Former President Clinton, eulogizing Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia at Senator Byrd’s funeral last week said the following:
“He once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, what does that mean? I’ll tell you what it means. He was a country boy from the hills and hollows from West Virginia. He was trying to get elected. And maybe he did something he shouldn’t have done come and he spent the rest of his life making it up. And that’s what a good person does. There are no perfect people. There are certainly no perfect politicians.”
We live in fascinating times where heroic imaging is more important than heroism, where perceived principles however illusory are more important than being principled, where the narrative has become more important than the objective fact.
Senator Byrd had more than a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, actively joining a racist organization notorious at the time he joined for vigilante lynchings on the basis of race, became a local leader of the organization, and espoused its principles for as much as ten years after joining.
Is it remotely conceivable that there is a benign explanation for wanting to be part of a racist organization? Is it feasible to formulate an image for the single purpose of securing an election, than deny it once safely elected? Obviously- it happens all the time. Yet the sanitation of terribly improper acts by the later performance of “acceptable” acts is what gets us into the position of doubting anything our leaders say. This is, at the least, the fundamental definition of a hypocrite. When is the last time we had a leader who defined specific principles that ruled their life direction and performance, and by which we could use to predict their future actions? I think the power of deeds and actions provide us with more insight regarding a leader than any set of politically correct opinions ever can. What did they do, when they had a chance to act; how did they act, before they had a chance to know how their actions would effect the outcome?
Upon stating the above remarks, Mr. Clinton was interrupted with applause by the assembled. Enough with the applause for such twisted thinking. Its time we, the Assembled, support leaders that live their lives like their ideals, and stop supporting those who think, the joke’s on us.