ISSUES IN FOCUS

Week of September 13, 1998

THE VIRTUE OF VICE


The verdict the American public eventually renders on Clinton will represent, for good or for evil, a turning point of profound significance for America.

Consider the worst possible outcome: Clinton is not held accountable for being a bald-faced liar and committing perjury in a civil deposition and before a grand jury.

If this occurs, America will cross a moral and political divide from which there may be no return.  It will represent a reversal of previously held standards, of going from the highest standards to the lowest standards, of going from upholding the good to openly sanctioning evil and wrongdoing, of going from public adherence to reason to the approval of flagrant rationalizations and evasions, of going from no man is above the law to one man—the president—is above the law.

Clinton’s henchmen, in their defense of what most admit is indefensible, are seeking to bring a new level of intellectual disintegration to America.  Cashing in on every false premise and contradiction they can find, they declare that perfection is no longer the standard, that nobody is perfect, even though they are sure this declaration is perfect in its alleged truth.  The best should no longer be expected, only the worst.   Our standards of behavior should be set by the lowest behavior, by the dishonest, by the corrupt, by the stupid, by the ignorant.

Applied to human behavior, the concept of perfection simply means the consistent adherence to a certain standard of action.  Some men are perfectly honest—meaning: consistently honest.  Some are perfect in their commitment to rationality and to other virtues.  Perfection does not mean infallibility, never making an honest mistake.  Perfection simply means consistency in action (except for honest mistakes) and, in this regard, some individuals are perfect in certain aspects of their life.

But statists do not wish to be held to the high standard of perfection (consistency) in action.  Such virtue should not be rewarded.  Vice is to be rewarded by the forgiveness of its evil, thereby turning vice into a virtue.  This is the penultimate, ugly, climax of statism and the welfare state, of everything for which it stands, of all of the premises on which it is based: the destruction of the good for being good, the sacrifice of good to evil and the glorification of wrongdoing and failure by bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

In their frenzied defense of Clinton, statists seek to intellectually destroy everything in their path.  The new standard is to be imperfection.  They declare we all lie—which is a lie.  They state absolutely there are no absolutes.   They are certain nothing is certain.  They claim they are right that there is no right and wrong. They claim a lie is the truth.  They destroy the English language in their hair-splitting attempts to make the real unreal.  Clarity is no longer the standard, only obfuscation, only the destruction of the meaning of words.

If statists succeed in their intellectual scorched-earth tactics, it will represent an ugly triumph of irrationality never before seen in America.  It will bring a new contempt for reason, for the truth, for honesty.  It will be the triumph of the worst over the best, of the dishonest over the honest, of the imperfect over the perfect, of evil over good.  It will bring us the explicit, open approval, by a majority, of the philosophy of the welfare state, a philosophy which has heretofore been largely tacitly approved.

The welfare state is designed to benefit the imperfect, the incompetent, the unintelligent, the ignorant and the dishonest, to protect them from the consequences of their failings.  It is the mechanism by which the able are subjugated to the unable, the intelligent are sacrificed to the unintelligent, the knowledgeable are shackled for the sake of the ignorant, the honest are regulated by the dishonest.  It seeks to promote the worst among us, not the best.  If America accepts the worst, not the best, as the new standard of behavior for a president, then it will take another giant step toward the ultimate end of statism: totalitarian rule.

On the other hand, if America upholds the idea that no man is above the law, that all men must be held accountable for their actions, that we should expect the best from others, that we should reward those who are perfectly honest and trustworthy and punish those who are not, then America will still have a chance.  If America affirms its commitment to reason and honesty, to the best in man, then eventually it will, once again, be the land of the free.

Fulton Huxtable
September 13, 1998

Copyright 1998 Fulton Huxtable

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