What's up with Bill Clinton?
Bill Clinton, whose character flaws had a disastrous effect on his presidency and his legacy, is turning out to be one of the finest ex-presidents in U.S. history. Actually, he's achieved far more in the six years since leaving office than he did during his eight years in office, rasing money for tsunami and Katrina victims as well as forming a charitable foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to focus on a variety of issues.
The master politician of his generation, he has typically presented a very slick, intelligent, controlled public image, even in the midst of difficulties and scandals.
Which is why I was so surprised to see the footage yesterday of Bill Clinton being interviewed on FoxNews Sunday by journalist Chris Wallace (son of 60 Minutes legend Mike Wallace). When asked if his administration had done all that it could have done to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, Clinton lost his temper. He railed about a conservative conspiracy (apparently headed by FoxNews) and angrily attacked Wallace. Wallace later said, concerning the interview and Clinton's behavior, "Former President Clinton is a very big man. As he leaned forward--wagging his finger in my face--and then poking the notes I was holding--I felt as if a mountain was coming down in front of me." (You can read Wallace's impressions here.) Though obviously more than a little intimidated, Wallace did a good job of continuing the interview.
Why did Bill Clinton react with such venom? I really was quite surprised to watch the interview, and watching made me very uncomfortable.
Is he sincerely angry at how his legacy is being portrayed? What made him blow his fuse on national television? Analyst William Kristol has three suggestions as to why Bill Clinton lost his temper. One or all may be true.
But, from a pastoral perspective, something seems wrong with Bill Clinton; this reaction may be merely symptomatic.
As I've posted previously, Bill Clinton is not responsible for 9/11. Had he had any idea that such a tragedy were coming, he would have done everything in his power to prevent it; the same is true of current President Bush. Folks who accuse either man of causing or failing to prevent 9/11 are woefully mistaken.
This is an intelligent man with a keen political mind. Was this part of a political strategy, or an emotional outburst? Has the criticism from some bothered him this much? Surely, he's accustomed to that. This is why I am perplexed.
If something is wrong in his heart (and that may not have anything to do with the subject of terrorism), then the Christian reaction to Bill Clinton's outburst is clear: we need to be in prayer for the man. Whether or not we agree with his politics or with his lifestyle choices, we must pray for him, and hope that he finds some peace in the midst of a difficult time for all world leaders.
(You can watch the interview by clicking here.)