A Convergence of Errors

Washington Times  9.08.98
Balint Vazsonyi

The day after Bill Clinton was first elected president in November 1992, I happened to be in Dartmouth, NH, to give a piano recital and hold master classes at the venerable College. An old classmate from elementary school in Budapest, Hungary - now teaching at Dartmouth - offered the hospitality of his home.

My friend's life partner, also a member of the faculty, turned out to be Austrian - emphatically with no intention to become American - and a proud socialist. The elections dominated our first evening. "We are now in the White House!" she proclaimed with euphoria and a strong Germanic accent. Speaking with an accent myself, I should be the last one to comment on someone else's, but it was impossible not to react to the use of "we," and the manner of her speech. Too many unwanted memories.

The conversation then turned to Mrs. Clinton. "There will be none of that 'first lady' nonsense," our hostess announced, wagging a finger. "She will be equal in the presidency, and that's that."

Even our hostess could not have suspected that Mrs. Clinton would get to run the country all by herself in return for rescuing her husband.

But all rescue attempts may be frustrated by the sheer weight of high crimes and misdemeanors. And, while the media bought the whole basketful of outright lies about the state of the union through which the presidency was won in 1992, this time around some decided early to stop buying. On January 21, 1998, when reports of the president's unacceptable conduct were confirmed by his demeanor, Cokie Roberts of ABC News, Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" and Wolf Blitzer of CNN left no doubt in this viewer's mind that for them Mr. Clinton had become unworthy of the presidency.

With many others it has taken very long to see the obvious and that is unfortunate. For now is a time when the ghosts of past errors are converging upon us, threatening our placid and self-indulgent world.

The first error occurred as the Soviet Union was collapsing. Scholars proclaimed "the end of history," and similar products of a fertile imagination. As always, realistic observation would have offered wiser counsel. The collapse of the Soviet Union was merely the end of a phase in the history of socialism, just like the fall of the Third Reich. Socialism will always be with us because it is the only doctrine that supports the acquisition of power with a seemingly benign excuse it calls "social justice."

The second error was articulated by yet more distinguished scholars in the assumption that "Europe was dead - the future belonged to the Pacific Rim, Latin America, the emerging, fresh economies." Eager as we are to do penance for "oppressing and exploiting everyone in sight," reality beckons once again. So long as creative thinking and the fountainhead of invention remain with Western Civilization, other countries may supplement but will not supplant the main arena of activity.

The third error has to do with the confusion caused by the Christian command of "goodwill toward man." In the thoughts of many, this became the equivalent of regarding all inhabitants of Planet Earth as "Americans in different stages of development." Such delusions were aggravated by the proliferation of persons around the globe who could line up before American news cameras and recite words like "human rights," "free markets," or "the right to self-determination." As one who came here as a young adult, needing a thorough reeducation to become truly American, I know for a fact that most others cannot comprehend our freedom, our independence, our common sense.

We now look upon a world which is collapsing economically outside Western Civilization. We look upon a world in which Western Civilization itself continues to be split between American principles and socialism. We look upon a world in which America has become the sole reliable protector of the ideas and ideals that have succeeded over time.

Dreams of a global village, and other expressions of the one-world concept, are nothing more than dreams. Clearly, a world governed against its will by Western powers is neither feasible nor desirable. America voluntarily stepping onto the quicksand upon which the existence of most other nations is built would be preposterous and help no one. We have to preserve our ways for the benefit of our descendants, and for the benefit of the world at large. Our Constitution is the only game in town.

But the stability of our system is in serious jeopardy. We have a president who has become untenable. We have a vice president who - already during the 1992 campaign - chose to adopt Team Clinton's methods of deception and who has now been rendered equally untenable by his own camp. The nation would not countenance simply swapping one special prosecutor for another pursuing the man in the White House. Continuing the line of succession, the Speaker of the House would never be accepted by Democrats who would claim the right to retain the White House as did the Republicans in 1974. Further down the line, the current Secretary of State has created an indelible vision of leaping to the microphone as she proclaimed her unconditional faith in Mr. Clinton's word.

A complex sequence of musical chairs, such as produced Gerald R. Ford president upon Nixon's resignation, is not an option because it requires the cooperation of all concerned. It seems likely that Mrs. Clinton - were she and her husband ever willing to go quietly - would want to name their successor but, hopefully, by then the nation would have had enough of her nominees.

All the foregoing bring me to the purpose of these ruminations. In the current turmoil, leaving the future of the nation in the hands of pollsters and politicians with a short-term approach represents clear and present danger. Perhaps the time has come for elder statesmen to sit together and consider the road ahead. We still have some in our midst: Henry Hyde, Jesse Helms, Sam Nunn, Daniel Patrick Moynihan - to name just a couple from both parties.

"Adolescents of the world: Unite!" has been the motto long enough. Let grown-ups chart the course now.