A Parable of Image and Truth

People often tell me it must be hard for the Sojourners Community to live in the midst of the inner-city poverty and violence of the nation's capital. It is, though it has many rewards. What's often harder is being so close to what happens in the rest of the city, the dominions of power where a morally impoverished politics is practiced every day. From a Washington, DC point of view, the "Thomas/Hill hearings" became a grotesque parable of our so-called political process.

The key word here is parable rather than aberration. The triumph of image over truth -- which defines Washington politics was never more apparent. During one of those made-for-TV journalist ego clashes and shouting matches, a Washington reporter coined the phrase "political lying" and nonchalantly stated that it occurred throughout the Thomas confirmation hearings. Another participant tried to ask if this was to be distinguished from personal lying but was drowned out by other voices.

From George Bush's proclamation that Clarence Thomas was the most qualified man in the country for this job and his race had nothing to do with his appointment; to the White House political handlers' preparation of the nominee to evade Senate questions, deny his record, and testify under oath that he had never even discussed the controversial abortion case of Roe vs. Wade; to the Democratic senators and liberal groups opposing Thomas claiming that no one had been looking for dirt on Thomas, or recruited Anita Hill, or manipulated her and the whole process by leaking the hot story to the awaiting media -- it was clear that we were not going to get a straight answer from any of the politicians. Not only did the whole truth not come out in the process; it never even had a chance.

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