President Clinton & the Nature of Truth

by on September 8th, 2006

It’s now been confirmed that ABC executives made the decision to redact and revise a number of scenes in its upcoming mini-series “The Path to 9/11.” The pressure exerted on ABC from former President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, et al, has been in direct proportion to their fear that their legacies would be tarnished by evidence about which most Americans are unaware.

While the producers generally work hard to achieve fidelity to the facts, there is an element of discretionary artistic license that must be exercised when making such a film, as Oliver Stone can attest.

Ironically, when Stone produced his largely fictional account of the Kennedy assassination, there was little outcry about the gross liberties he took with the facts, ditto for The Davinci Code. Yet those were major films, the first challenged the conventional wisdom about a seminal event in our nations history and the second savaged perhaps the most hallowed icon in Western civilization.

Although they were in a somewhat different genre, all three films purport to provide a version of the truth, which for our post-modern sensibilities, is as close to a declaration of verisimilitude as we can hope to get. But in neither the Kennedy nor the Davinci film was there any hint of restraint or handicapping with respect to the veracity of its presentation of “facts.”

From press releases we know that the intent of the 9/11 series is to present an accurate rendering of events that led up to the attack which makes the producers’ obligations for fairness in their handling of information and evidence more burdensome. Viewers and film critics will have to decide whether they have achieved their goal.

But from a veracity perspective, Mr. Clinton is a mirror image of our MSM in that their exquisite sense of selective truth-telling is perfectly balanced to suit their political goal du jour.

There is no reflection, there is no hesitation, no fact-checking or, God forbid, humility. As the nation learned during the impeachment hearings, truth for them is a tool that is malleable and purposely crafted to immunize them against political liability and, in the case of Mr. Clinton himself, to further his insatiable drive for unalloyed power.

What’s most remarkable is the left’s unapologetic defense of this man for whom honesty is an ever-elusive characteristic. As Shelby Steele wrote when the impeachment process was in full throttle, we’ve entered a new era wherein if one’s politics are “correct” one’s sins are forgiven, and, for Mr. Clinton, those sins included perjury and a variety of other unsavory indictments.

So we should not be surprised when he and his legions of former cabinet members and senior staffers become apoplectic at the notion that, among other well-documented charges, he squandered the opportunity to capture bin Laden.

Indeed, they afford themselves a robust revisionist leniency that is absent in their appraisal of President Bush’s performance vis a vis Iraq and the war against the Islamic terrorists.

It’s shameful but wholly predictable.

Philip Mella