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Jewish World Review / August 11, 1998 / 19 Menachem-Av, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Hiding behind a woman

DESPITE A UNISEX VIEW OF THE WORLD in fashionable circles, few things have been more basic to our history and our culture -- and perhaps our innate nature -- than the idea that a man should protect a woman. When the Titanic sank, most of the survivors were women and children. That was the decision of the men in charge.

Back in the days of slavery, when a young man and young woman stole away to be together and were caught, when time came for their punishment, the other blacks expected him to volunteer to take her lashes, as well as his own. If such a sense of honor existed among slaves, what are we to think of a man in the most powerful office in the world who lets a woman half his age take the heat for him?

Monica Lewinsky reportedly broke down in tears in her attorney's office while being rehearsed in the kinds of questions to expect in the grand jury room. For six months she has been under heavy pressure, as she tried to protect the president who called her "that woman."

It would have been so much easier for Clinton than for her to have admitted what happened and spared everyone six disgusting months. His admission could have been in general terms, without having to go into gory details in a roomful of strangers, as Monica Lewinsky has had to do. Instead, Clinton put her in legal jeopardy to save his own hide.

What could be more selfish or more gutless than a man hiding behind a woman, especially a woman young enough to be his daughter?

Clever people say that Clinton is entitled to "the presumption of innocence" -- and gullible people believe them. That principle does not apply to 99 percent of what we do in our lives. It applies only to the 1 percent or less that takes place in courts of law.

Perhaps it is too much to expect, after years of dumbed-down education, that people would understand the importance of context. Instead, they have been conditioned to respond like Pavlov's dog to certain sounds. The "presumption of innocence" is one of those sounds.

If you came home and found your spouse in bed with your best friend, would you give them the presumption of innocence? Of course not. You would be a fool if you did.

A judge and a jury have a special duty to perform, under the severe restrictions of the law. The rest of us as citizens have a very different duty to perform, which is to use our common sense over issues that can seldom be resolved to strict legal standards -- but which must be resolved anyway.

Does it make sense that everybody else is lying, except a man with a history of lying? That mountains of circumstantial evidence are just coincidences? That a man with a lifelong reputation for honorable behavior -- Kenneth Starr -- is now behaving dishonorably, in order to fabricate a case, while a man with no sense of honor is the innocent victim?

Does anyone remember the sexual charges against Senator Robert Packwood? Do you remember who Congress chose for the delicate job of reading Packwood's diaries, in order to give an assessment of them that members of both parties would respect? They chose Kenneth Starr. Later, when Starr was appointed as independent counsel, the New York Times characterized him as "nonpartisan."

When Starr was Solicitor General, his own staff nicknamed him "the Solicitous General" because of his careful and thorough work, dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. Now, through the magic of propaganda and repetition, that same Kenneth Starr is being scapegoated as "partisan."

The word keeps being repeated like a drumbeat. But those who use the word never even define it, much less offer a speck of evidence for it. They don't have to. They know that if people hear it enough times, they will believe it.

Starr didn't go looking for Monica Lewinsky. Linda Tripp took her tapes to him. He had the FBI check whether her story was for real. Only when Monica said the same things again, with FBI agents planted nearby and doing their own recording, did Starr proceed.

He was carrying out his duties because tampering with witnesses is not "the president's private sex life," no matter how many times that phrase is repeated. Anyone who tells you that this is about "the president's private sex life" will lie to you about other things as well.

8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.