Deceived by the Adversary in the Garden of Eden, human beings from the time of the Fall from Grace to the present have deluded themselves that they are the equal of their Creator. Contingent beings who did not create themselves — and whose bodies are destined for the corruption of the grave until the Last Day — come to believe quite pridefully that they can do whatever they want with utter impunity. No one is to have any authority over them, not God generally, not His true Church particularly, not any of their fellow human beings. And no law is superior to the dictates of their own disordered wills, not God’s law inscribed on the flesh of human hearts and by His very finger on the stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and not any human law made in recognition of the binding precepts of God’s immutable laws and in subordination to them. We are rebels by our fallen nature, creatures who believe that we are never in need of any direction or correction from others.
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins that affect all human beings. However, pride affects those in positions of power more than others. Those in positions of power and influence have a pronounced tendency to think of themselves as virtual demigods whose lives and actions fall outside any limits external to their own designs. Historically that has been true of those who have held positions of temporal authority in civil government. It has been true of those who have headed organized-crime families. It has been true, sadly, of a number of ecclesiastics over the years. (The devil uses that to try to discourage the practice of the Faith by those who do not recognize that the bad example given by bishops and priests is simply that — bad example — and that we do not use the bad example of others to commit spiritual suicide by ceasing the practice of the Faith.) And it has been true of those in corporations and labor unions, men and women who come to view their little fiefdoms as birthrights that authorize them to act as they see fit in whatever circumstances they find themselves.
The likes of Caligula and Nero and Diocletian and Trajan and Marcus Aurelius and Herod the Great and Henry VIII and Napoleon and Lenin and Stalin and Hitler and Castro and Mao and Capone and Gotti, although separated by centuries, have had one thing in common: a belief that they were “special” people whose very acquisition and retention of power justified every means they employed to accomplish their ends. Niccolò Machiavelli even gave philosophical respectability to such lawlessness and pride in his Discourses on Livy. The powerful believe that other human beings are objects for their own aggrandizement or pleasure, and that the property of others belongs rightfully to them as a matter of personal privilege befitting their high station in life. Thus, it is a minor matter for people possessed of such a notion to reward their friends, punish their enemies, loot the treasuries of others, and arrogate unto themselves possessions and privileges that feed into their narcissistic world view.
Former President Bill Clinton is merely one in a long line of petty tyrants and thieves who believes in his own exemption from the laws of God and those of man. Although quite symbolic of his own narcissistic and indulgent generation, Clinton would have felt very much at home in John Gotti’s Mafia crime family. He would have been quite comfortable with Lenin and Stalin, whose essential ideology and methodology of rule he adapted for his own purposes. And he would have had the time of his life with Caligula and Nero and Henry VIII. Boy, the three of them would have had a number of belly-laughs about how easy it is to intimidate people and to make off with that which is not your own.
The number of Clinton apologists, however, is dwindling somewhat. Interesting to note, though, that most of those who still defend Clinton are black liberal leaders, many of whose own people live in poverty as the victims of the destruction of the black family engineered by Margaret Sanger and Rexford Tugwell in the 1930s — and implemented by Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society in the 1960s. Many black Americans have been made wards of the state through the promotion of contraception and divorce, and through entitlement programs created to deal with the state-administered breakdown of the family — programs that create constituency groups who must be convinced that it is impossible for people living in poverty to live without the beneficence of the state. The incongruity of blacks’ poverty and the opulence and naked greed of Bill Clinton does not register for a single moment in the mind of the District of Columbia’s nonvoting member of the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton. It makes not a whit of difference to Fidel Castro’s favorite representative from south-central Los Angeles, Maxine Waters, who defends almost everything Bill Clinton says and does (while refusing to vote in the affirmative to wish former President Reagan a happy ninetieth birthday). Harlem’s Representative Charles Rangel continues to minimize all of Clinton’s contempt for the law and contempt for the dictates of simple decency. Still, more and more of those who have defended Clinton have come to realize that the man they have defended for so long is nothing more than a self-aggrandizing crook.
Indeed, the man who admitted to giving deliberately “misleading” information in his January 17, 1998, deposition in the Paula Jones sexual-harassment lawsuit still likes to live on the edge of legality, defining terms as he sees fit. His pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich was defended by his own former White House counsel (now the lawyer for Rich), Jack Quinn, partly on the grounds that Rich wasn’t really a fugitive because he had never been convicted of a crime and partly on the grounds that no crime had been committed at all. That is just another application of “it all depends on what the meaning of is is.” It all depends upon what the meaning of “fugitive” is. Well, the FBI quite regularly puts people on its Ten Most Wanted list who are wanted for crimes for which they have not yet been tried. Such folks are fugitives from justice precisely because they do not want to be tried. If the case against Marc Rich was so inconsequential, why did he flee the country?
Naturally, none of that matters to Clinton. Rich’s former wife, Denise Rich, has given millions of dollars to the Democratic Party, including loads of money to Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the newly minted junior senator from New York. It has now been documented that Denise Rich has given at least $400,000 to the Clinton presidential-library fund, and the actual figure may be far in excess of that amount. Marc Rich and his ex-wife have money. Bill Clinton likes money. He believes that he deserves to have the money of other people. Never mind the fact that Marc Rich made profits dealing with Iran and Libya when this nation had imposed economic boycotts against those terrorist states. What should a little thing like treasonous activity mean when Rich had renounced his American citizenship? After all, you can’t accuse a man of “trading with the enemy” if he is no longer a citizen of a country from which he is not really a fugitive, right? And what’s the big deal about making a few dollars off the enemies of the United States when you yourself denounced your own country in no uncertain terms while “studying” abroad at Oxford after you had maneuvered to dodge your country’s military draft?
In November 1973, President Richard M. Nixon said, “The people have a right to know whether their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.” A liar and an obstructor of justice, yes, but not a crook. Bill Clinton is a crook and a liar and a perjurer and an obstructor of justice. Through it all, however, he just skates above the fray, giving his usual obfuscatory answers to direct questions, refusing to admit publicly that anything he does or says is in the least bit corrupt or suspicious. He has long believed that no one has any right to judge him or question him or hold him to objective standards of conduct founded on the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. He is so arrogant that he believes that he can not only grant pardons to fugitives from justice but also take whatever he wants out of the people’s house, even though many of things he took had been given to the White House in perpetuity, not to him or his wife personally.
As I noted in January’s issue of my Christ or Chaos newsletter, Bill Clinton’s contempt for the rule of law and for the property of others is a relatively minor matter when you consider his contempt for the sanctity of innocent human lives in their mothers’ wombs. He has no regard for others because he, like the legions of the powerful before him, has no regard for God. Indeed, Bill Clinton has nothing but contempt for God’s true Church, the only sure foundation for order within souls and within societies.
The antidote for the poison of pride is to look at the instrument upon which the God-Man suffered to redeem us: the Holy Cross. It is by constantly fixing our gaze upon the Crucified Redeemer that we can come to exercise the virtue of humility, recognizing that we must subordinate every aspect of our lives under the authority of Christ the King as He has revealed Himself through His true Church. Those who fix their gazes upon the wood of the Holy Cross come to realize that we must work out our salvation in fear and in trembling, as Saint Paul reminds us, knowing that we will face Christ the King in the Face at the moment of our own Particular Judgments. The Particular Judgment is rendered upon the souls of the mighty and the weak, upon the powerful and the powerless, upon the rich and the poor. Christ the King is no respecter of persons. Each man will find the sum total of his life reflected in the standard of justice Who is Christ Himself, and there will be no bevy of attorneys present to make rationalizations or to spin reality into something it is not. The fact that a man had political or financial or cultural power in this life will not mean a blessed thing in the next. There is no affirmative-action program in Heaven for the rich and the famous and the powerful.
As always, we pray for the conversion of all people, starting with ourselves. It is one thing to sin and be sorry. It is quite another to persist arrogantly in sin and to pridefully assert that everything one does is right because one asserts that is so. While we pray for the conversion of the former president and his wife, it is important to point out that their insistence on being exempt from the laws of God and man in this life may very well wind up costing them dearly in the next. May we understand that it is so easy for any of us to follow in their perverted wake.
Our Lady, Mirror of Justice, help us to look always to the standard of your Divine Son’s Holy Cross, finding in It the symbol of humility we need to remind ourselves that we must be about the business of obeying God and not to feed the siren sound of our own egos.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives