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Jewish World Review / Sept. 2, 1998 /11 Elul, 5758

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout

IF YOU BELIEVE THE OPINION POLLS, the public is less concerned about the character of the president than the strength of the economy. That could quickly change as the stock market heads south and Russia unravels economically and politically.

Some reader letters are harshly critical of me for "harping'' on character questions, imploring me to get on with the "real business of the country.''

As a former member of the scouting program, I thought I would revisit the Scout Law of the Boy Scouts of America to see what I was taught. Did the scoutmasters think that building character, virtue and integrity ought to be the real business of the country? Did they believe such things mattered only when boys are young?

The first law is that a scout is "Trustworthy. He tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.''

A scout is "Loyal. (He) is true to his family ... and nation.''

A scout is "Friendly. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.''

A scout is "Obedient. (He) follows the rules of his family .... He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.''

A scout is "Clean. (He) keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals.''

Finally, a scout is "Reverent. (He) is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties.''

In the Scout Oath, he pledges, among other things, to be "morally straight.''

According to such standards, Bill Clinton could not be admitted as a member of the Boy Scouts of America. Were he already a member, his admitted lies and behavior would be grounds for expulsion.

The president may have never been a Boy Scout, but he twice took another oath. Based on what we know about him and his behavior in office, that oath, which is required by the Constitution, bears reconsideration: "I, William Jefferson Clinton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'' Most add, "so help me God.''

These words have meaning, as do the Scout Oath and Scout Law. They presume the oath-taker will live up to his pledge or accept the consequences for violating them. President Clinton solemnly swore, indicating the seriousness of the oath he twice took. Has he faithfully executed the office, which is not his personal property or a spoil of political war, but a hallowed institution as old as the nation? Has he done to the best of his ability everything he could to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, or has he attempted to circumvent, undermine and redefine by lawbreaking and debauched behavior our most fundamental document?

These are questions an impeachment panel will want to consider. But if Bill Clinton were a Boy Scout, it wouldn't even be a close call. He would be a goner. Why do we promote one set of standards we admire in a Boy Scout and pretend these same standards, not to mention constitutional standards, don't matter or are somehow voided when a boy grows up to become president of the United States?

Those letter writers who say this doesn't matter should consider what Scott Ritter, the former U.N arms inspector who resigned last week, told ABC's This Week. Ritter predicted that Saddam Hussein will resume development of weapons of mass destruction within six months. Why? Because, he said, the United States can no longer mobilize an alliance to stand against Iraq. Clearly that's because world leaders do not believe or highly regard the American president. And that is fundamentally a matter of his bad character.


8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
homosexual behavior
7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.