Maybe you’ve had this experience: you find an On Demand program to watch and settle down in a comfortable chair…and an ad comes on. You scramble for the fast-forward button when this horrifying and distressing message appears:
Fast forward and other functions not available on this program.
I thought of that last night when Bill Clinton was speaking and he said “fast-forward to 1997.” He was, innocently enough, telescoping Chelsea’s childhood; but as much as I like Bill Clinton, he doesn’t get the opportunity to pick and choose elements of his life he prefers to discuss.
I’m not suggesting he fill in all the details we already know—people like Kenneth Starr did enough of that two decades ago and has, himself, publicly repented—but I’d have loved Mr. Clinton to say, amidst all the praise he was heaping upon Hillary, that she was a better wife than he was a husband, maybe a better parent too. That would have been enough—we’d have all known what he meant and we’d have all accepted it as contriteness without self-pity.
No letter A on his chest, no sackcloth, no public flogging, no parade through town naked while thousands jeer “Shame, shame.” (Game of Thrones fans will remember that things did not end well for those jeerers.)
It has nothing to do with forgiveness. For one thing, our forgiveness, acceptance, or rejection doesn’t matter if his wife and daughter have moved past it. But someone with the oratory skills of a Bill Clinton could have covered every base last night and still won everyone over. He did good: he portrayed a woman for whom the word tireless is inadequate. Ditto indefatigable, unswerving, indomitable. Her litany of accomplishments, often done quietly and out of the spotlight, stands in stark contrast to the self-promotion and bombast of the rapacious and egomaniacal Donald Trump.
If I may continue shamelessly to mix TV and sports metaphors…yes, Bill Clinton did his job, but I don’t think he touched second base; and although his foot may have landed in the vicinity and it still counts as a hit, it wasn’t a home run.