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There Goes the Judge, Sigh…

August 10th, 2013 - 12:08 pm

Judge Clark has died at his California ranch.  Steve Hayward tells his story very well, as is his wont.  I was not an intimate, but I always got a hearing from him when I requested it, and as Steve says, he was a real gentleman with a unique strength:  he didn’t really want to be in government, and he really didn’t care who got credit for success.  He was a real friend to Reagan and a great treasure to the nation.

I think the essence of the man was manifest fairly early on.  He was deputy secretary of state to Haig, who faced a nasty decision:  Israel had asked for the extradition of a Palestinian killer who was in an American jail.  The case was very contentious, and it was clear that if we agreed to the Israeli request, there was a real chance of attempts at revenge.  Haig asked Clark, who was, after all, a magistrate, to evaluate the merits of the case.

Clark waited until Haig was out of the country, which made the judge “acting secretary of state.”  And then he quietly ruled that the terrorist should be extradited.  That meant he assumed full responsibility.  Anyone wanting to avenge the decision would have to target him, Judge Clark.

That was a real profile in courage, which was rarely noted either then or afterwards.  For me it defined Judge Clark.  A rare man, a brave and gentle man, a hero.  That he was so ferociously challenged by some of the others is a reminder of the pettiness that is so common in political life, and of the jealousy that true greatness so often provokes.

Arrivederci.

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Top Rated Comments   
In government at any authoritative level, you have to be brave to even have convictions, not to speak of actually acting on your convictions.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Was it bravery, or was he simply contemptuous of them? It is the decision of the civilized man. You do not let the thugs call the tune.

You may call it bravery, but I call it conviction. Fear and faith are opposite things. When one has faith in the principles of civilization, when one and one's beliefs are inseparable, there simply is no fear.

That said, that level of conviction is possessed generally only by the great people. Maybe that is what defines greatness, where the principle and the person are inseparable.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (5)
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It says a lot about the writer, as well as those written about, when it comes to the words chosen to communicate what the writer wants to shed light on.

Thank you, Michael.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for the focus on Clark here. As an intensive student of Reagan's political years, I have always wanted to meet Clark, but now never shall. Here was a man... he wouldn't like the implied comparison with Lincoln. Clark was, by all accounts, quiet and true, happy to work out of the limelight. But I think we may fairly say that his lordly cedar going down leaves a lonesome place against the sky.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Was it bravery, or was he simply contemptuous of them? It is the decision of the civilized man. You do not let the thugs call the tune.

You may call it bravery, but I call it conviction. Fear and faith are opposite things. When one has faith in the principles of civilization, when one and one's beliefs are inseparable, there simply is no fear.

That said, that level of conviction is possessed generally only by the great people. Maybe that is what defines greatness, where the principle and the person are inseparable.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Maybe that is what defines greatness, where the principle and the person are inseparable. "

I think so.

I recall hearing a definition of truth that went this way, "When the word and the deed are one."


35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
In government at any authoritative level, you have to be brave to even have convictions, not to speak of actually acting on your convictions.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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