Casting Stones is Dangerous Business
Unless there is some earth-shattering development in the next two weeks, Hillary Clinton will become the nation’s next president. Donald Trump’s campaign has been on the decline ever since his crude remarks about women 11 years ago became public knowledge.
(Pause here to say that a woman I know very well remarked recently, “Anyone who had been paying attention knew what he was like from the beginning of the campaign. I recognized it months ago.”)
Still, when the ruckus erupted earlier this month, I had a Ralph Abernathy moment. For those of you who weren’t around during the Civil Rights era, Abernathy was close with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his autobiography, Abernathy included stories about King’s alleged sexual escapades, including on the night before his death.
What I remembered from the story I read about the book more than 25 years ago were its descriptions of the crude remarks commonly shared among those in the movement’s inner circle.
While there is no excuse for Trump’s lewd comments, I also detected a note of selective outrage following their disclosure. Because the Republican candidate has been so controversial and so flamboyant, it has been easy for his critics to scream, “See! This means he’s not fit to be president!”
Whether one’s background in business qualifies you for the highest office in the land is one thing, but I don’t see crude language as something deserving of dismissal from consideration.
Why? Because, as Abernathy’s book shows, if more private conversations of leading figures became public fodder, there would be few left unscathed from the outcry that would follow.
Public vs. Private
Another thought I had when Trump’s comments went public is how much things have changed the past 40 years. When I started in the newspaper business in the early 1970s, the leading dodge for dishonest politicians was: “I was misquoted.”
As recording devices became more ubiquitous, that changed to: “My remarks were taken out of context.”
Now, with smart phones, cameras and digital recorders flicked to the “on” position continuously, there is little hope of running away from one’s comments—as evidenced by Trump’s October plunge.
Ironically, at the same time the hysteria over Trump’s comments erupted, news surfaced of Clinton’s past remarks to Wall Street financiers. They included the observation that she has to simultaneously maintain a public position and a private one.
So it is for many of us. What we say in private, unguarded moments versus our pronouncements in public may be far apart.
Put another way, when it comes to those who have been piling on Trump lately, I would paraphrase John 8:7: “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”