by | Dec 20, 1998 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Hate wins. That’s the only certainty. From the bombs falling over Iraq to the verbal bombshells exploding in Washington, hate wins. We have, in so many ways, given in to this emotion we can’t even see straight.

It starts with the president. He is a kitchen of hate now. Although his approval ratings might suggest otherwise, it is hard to remember a president who engendered this much venom. Critics don’t just find fault, they want him skewered over the fire. He has somehow become to his detractors — most of them Republicans — the symbol of everything that is wrong with this country.

So that his lie about an embarrassing sexual affair is not just a lie, it’s the worst lie, the most heinous lie, a lie that undermines the whole legal system, a perjury that will destroy our nation if it isn’t cast out right now, right this minute.

Any reasonable person might say that this is overkill, that our legal system deals with the question of degree every day. But when hatred creeps in, there is no forgiving, no pause for rational thought.

Besides, the hatred doesn’t stop there.

The president hates, too. He hates his critics. He hates Ken Starr. He hates that he has been investigated almost since arriving at the White House. He hates that the only case they have is about Monica Lewinsky. And he hates that he got caught.

He hates that people won’t buy his concept of the truth, which seems to be whatever the last thing out of his mouth was. He hates that we don’t share his big picture view, that as long as he endorses good things and keeps the economy chugging, we ought to love him no matter what. He hates that his legacy is stained forever, that his vision of himself will never be the one history remembers.

But the hatred doesn’t stop there.

The parties clash

Republicans hate Democrats, perhaps more than ever. Does it stem from Clinton’s re-election? From Newt Gingrich quitting? Does it go back to Watergate?

Hard to say. But as a group, the Republicans seem so contemptuous of Democrats that they only see the president as one of “them.” Even a military action in a foreign country doesn’t warrant a few days pause in the march to impeach him. They hate him that much.

And the Democrats hate right back. They hate the bullheadedness with which the Republicans attack the president’s sex life, like a dog that won’t let go of your pants leg. They hate how Republicans won’t treat the president like a president.

They hate how Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, issued a statement the day the bombing started in Iraq, saying he questioned the timing of the move and could not support it. They hate how “Wag the Dog” has become a shadow for every move that Clinton makes.

They hate the fact that Republicans use their majority status like bullies, not even allowing the idea of censure. They hate how Republicans keep screaming “perjury” and “impeachment,” and won’t look at the bigger picture. And they privately hate the president for not keeping his pants up and avoiding this mess altogether.

But the hatred doesn’t stop there.

In fact, the worst is what follows.

Misleading the people

What follows, unavoidably, is the hatred that has spread to the American people, and now defines their feelings toward their leaders. We hate that all these jokers have dragged the country into this mess. We hate being embarrassed on a worldwide stage. We hate the hypocrisy of the president, and we hate the hypocrisy of his enemies. We hate that Clinton couldn’t control his sex drive in the White House, and we hate that two of his staunchest critics, Henry Hyde and Bob Livingston, decry his morals while both admitting to extramarital affairs themselves.

We hate how every Republican and Democrat talks about “nonpartisan” this and
“bipartisan” that, when every thing they do seems to be partisan. We hate being treated like we’re stupid.

We hate that the news media envelops us like a cloud. And we hate the fact that we are so hypnotized by it. We hate that our sons and daughters have to go into combat, and yet our leaders don’t have the decency to give it their undivided attention.

We hate the lies we know about, and the lies we suspect. We hate how these politicians, supposedly there to represent us, seem to follow their own agendas all the time except during elections.

All we want is someone to look up to, to follow because he or she inspires us with morals, courage and honesty.

Instead we hate our leaders, and we hate that we hate them. Choosing a politician is now choosing the lesser of two evils. Picking a side in this mess is picking the side least offensive. America is not supposed to be like this, a place where hate wins over compassion, over understanding, over justice. But this is where we are. One year from the turn of the millennium, and everyone seems to be wandering around dazed, asking over and over how we fell so far.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!