Clinton's Repentance--And Ours | Sojourners

Clinton's Repentance--And Ours

Many of those present for Bill Clinton’s prayer breakfast repentance were moved. Unlike his August 17 address to the nation, this speech was contrite enough to convince. Of course, many of his spiritual advisers have been counseling Clinton for many months to tell the truth for the sake of his own soul, his family, and the nation. To admit "sin" now, after having been caught by a relentless prosecutor, cornered by a grand jury, and run out of delaying and obfuscating tactics clearly has not persuaded everyone of the sincerity of the president’s repentance. My religious mother (who voted for Clinton) put it this way: "He didn’t really repent, he just got caught."

But even "foxhole conversions" can be genuine. In the wave of ever-stronger reactions, even from his own party members, to the president’s "immoral" and "disgraceful" behavior, Clinton is becoming increasingly sorry, but he still wants the nation to forgive him and to "move on."

By anyone’s definitions, Bill Clinton has much to repent of. But, maybe, so do the rest of us. Much has been said about Clinton being the first "baby boomer" president. And to be honest, the now terribly public revelations of the president’s behavior are embarrassing to many of our generation. While Bill Clinton may be characteristically excessive, are there ways that his behavioral style is all too representative of an America led by our generation?

WHILE CLINTON’S moral failures are astounding, are they also archetypal, and do they give us all reason for reflection? Perhaps there is more to repent of here than just his betrayal of his family and the public trust.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 1998
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