I’ve been in Little Rock all week at Presbytery Leader Formation and on our free afternoon yesterday, several of us visited the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. In these #MeToo days, I felt a little queasy to be perfectly honest. I believe the women who say that he assaulted them and/or harrassed them before and during his Presidency. And although I do not believe we should judge people based on the worst thing they’ve ever done, most of us haven’t forgotten that Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. Yes, he was acquitted on all charges. But we remember.
This post is not intended to be politically partisan. There are good things that each President of the United States has done regardless of party affiliation. Obviously every President’s library will highlight the good things, including quotes from supporters, and successes in the eyes of their own party.
But what struck me about this library were the world leaders whose words were played on video lauding this President for specific actions that benefited the world: Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair, Vaclav Havel, Ehud Barak. There was Clinton with other Presidents at the dedication of the George H.W. Bush Library. There was Clinton at President Nixon’s funeral. And there were numerous legislative highlights that – whether you agreed with them or not – were intended to benefit the poor, the uninsured, the refugee.
As my colleagues and I watched the videos, read the letters, toured the Presidential timeline, each of us felt the special impact of observing it all through the lens of 2018. We wondered aloud what our current President’s library might look like.
Again – I am not seeking partisan comments or snarkitude here. I simply wonder if there will be respected world leaders who laud this President. Will there be highlights of legislation that benefits the poor, the uninsured, the refugee? Will there be photos with other Presidents that exude mutual respect and dignity? What quotes will be featured on the walls?
I long for leaders who display good character. I crave leaders who visibly honor each human being’s value, whether those human beings are family members, business partners, political colleagues, or international neighbors.
This is my hope for our President – no matter who he is or – one day – who she is. Our country is too important, too special to expect anything less. We deserve leaders that our children can admire.
A good Presidential Library – like a good sermon – inspires us to be better.
Image from the Clinton Library that mentions his impeachment in his Presidential timeline. There is a single mention of Monica Lewinsky in the entire facility. (right)
It’s me two for all that you hope from our leaders. Thank you for your willingness to speak the words.