Monday, August 1, 2016

The Part Bill Clinton Didn't Say


Bill Clinton still has his charm, doesn't he?

With his white hair and blue eyes, he has a bit of a drawl, a bit of a wink, and an impish, aw-shucks grin. And while I am not a card-carrying member of the Democratic party, I couldn't help but be drawn in by his nostalgic and romantic story of meeting Hillary - the long-haired girl with the huge glasses.

But as he told the story of how they met, how he pursued her, how she mothered Chelsea, and what she accomplished, I noticed that he skimmed right over the crux of their story . . . his infidelity and their reconciliation.

That was the part I wanted to know about. Didn't you?

It's not because I am a scandal seeker. I just want to know how it worked. How did she go on after the Monica affair? How did she forgive his infidelity? Was he remorseful? Was she angry? How long did she hold it against him that their marriage had imploded on a national platform? What did it take for her to stay when she probably wanted nothing more than to run screaming from the White House.

It was a marital fight gone rogue. And we all had front row seats.

It felt like I was reading a book with a few chapters ripped out. Or, in the old days, when I missed a few weeks of my favorite television show and couldn't Netflix it to find out what happened.

I'm sure that they wanted to avoid the topic altogether. But, I think the Clintons missed an opportunity in Bill's speech. If I was his speechwriter, I would have pushed them to deal with it, to put it all on the table. After all, we can learn from mistakes. They are horrible, certainly. They are embarrassing, without a doubt. But in acknowledging failure, we learn and grow. And, by owning them, we earn respect.

I think that Bill could have talked about how, while he succeeded in politics, he failed in his marriage commitment. He could talk about how he hurt his wife and his daughter. He could explain how, as a couple, they walked through dark and conflicted times, but that Hillary chose to stay, to remain in his life.

He could talk about what grace and courage it took to make that type of choice and why he respects her today. He could say thank you, publicly, to this woman who he harmed in such a grand way.

But he didn't. We heard everything but that...

Of course, I didn't really expect anything different. That's what politicians do; actually, that's what we all do. We smooth over the tough stuff. We delete the ugly photos from our phone. We cover up our under eye bags with a very high quality concealer. We want to put our best foot forward and never let them see us cry.

But maybe he should have. And maybe we should, too.

It's in revealing our weakness, in our vulnerability, that we find we are all just human after all.

Even Bill. Just a guy who met a girl...