The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

January 24, 2013

Caught in a lie, what do you do?

Friday, January 25, 2013 — What should a public figure do when caught in a mistake or telling a lie?

Any experienced political advisor will urge, “Stop lying, tell the truth and get the whole story out in one fell swoop.”

Further lying or delay in telling the whole story makes it worse. Day after day, the news media’s reports reemphasize and compound the negatives, destroying the troubled public figure’s chances for rehabilitation in the public’s mind.

Lance Armstrong and John Edwards compounded their disasters by delaying acknowledgement of errors and continuing to lie to the public.

Duke University history professor William Chafe, author of “Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal,” agrees. “The cover-up is worse than the crime and it is going to come back and get you. When you’ve done something wrong, ‘fess up.”

For every rule there are exceptions. Professor Chafe describes how Bill Clinton saved his presidency by maintaining and adjusting his untruthful story about his relationship with Monica Lewinski, waiting several months before admitting the truth.

“He buys six months” Chafe told me recently, “and that six months saves his presidency.”

During those months the country got used to the idea of having a president who had an affair with an intern and lied about it. Several things helped Clinton. The country’s economy under his leadership was doing well. Ken Starr, the special prosecutor, and the Republican impeachment team came across to the public as political and unnecessarily oppressive. Most importantly, Hillary Clinton stuck by her husband, even though he had cheated on and lied to her.

How can Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary loyalty to her husband be explained? Chafe’s book takes on the task. Chafe “became convinced that the only way anyone could understand either one of them – and the politics of the 80s and 90s – was by examining the chemistry of their relationship. Their intimate life animated and ultimately determined the roles they played politically.”

Chafe examines the Clintons’ lives from their troubled childhoods through the struggles of a marriage rocked by Bill Clinton’s serial womanizing. He describes how each time Bill got in trouble, Hillary rescued him. When the publicity about his affair with Gennifer Flowers blew up during the 1992 primary campaign, Hillary was rehearsed and ready to join him on national television (Sixty Minutes) to persuade Americans that, although there had been trouble in the past, their marriage was strong and durable.

Why would she do this? Chafe explains, “By doing so, she not only rescued Bill’s candidacy, but ensured that her own power in both the personal and political relationship would increase.”

It was Hilary Clinton’s final and most important rescue that made possible the success of Bill Clinton’s six months of deception. Chafe explains, “After the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in 1998, Bill Clinton thought for a brief period he would be forced to resign in disgrace, just as Richard Nixon did in 1974. But for the last time, Hillary came to his rescue, standing by him even after he admitted his guilt and faced impeachment. Only this time, by saving her husband — and their co-presidency — she also liberated herself to become her own person in politics.”

Saving her husband’s presidency, Chafe argues, gave her the freedom to chart her own political course. While the Senate was voting on the impeachment charges brought against her husband, she was meeting with political advisors to plan her campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from New York.

The Clintons’ experience was a rare exception. I agree with Bill Chafe about the general rule: When you get in trouble, stop lying, tell all, all at once.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Patrick Gannon Don’t forget the losers in state lottery

    RALEIGH – Behind every state lottery dollar that goes to education is a loser.
    There’s also a winner – the teacher whose salary it pays, the student who gets a scholarship or the district where a new school gets built. But we hear about the winners in advertisements and in press releases.
    This column is about the losers.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hodgepodge Cooling an overheated hedgehog and other summer travel stories

    Anybody with a pet during the summer inevitably finds themselves facing this question: What do I do with my pet on vacation?
    There are kennels for dogs, day cares for cats. Shoot, you can even find a friend to take care of your guinea pig.
    But what do you do with a hedgehog?

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • North Carolina Boasts Top Wildlife Magazine and A Success Story

    The following opinion piece was released by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission:

    RALEIGH  — When Wildlife in North Carolina, the magazine published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named recently as the nation’s best in its category, it reflected more than accolades as a quality publication.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    CHICAGO - A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content