Roger L. Simon

Mentir Est Honteux

Running around NYC the last couple of days, getting my news reading the NY Post standing up in the subway, I am only now sitting down at 9:30 on Friday night to scan the blogs. Of course the first thing to catch my eye, since I am not in the midst of a Florida hurricane, is the Glenn Reynolds’ link to the SF Examiner. The dam of silence in the major media about Kerry may be beginning to break.

I am glad but I am also sad, because the great flaw in Kerry is the great flaw in most of us (in me) — the inability to tell the truth and admit our mistakes. When I was adapting Isaac Singer’s Enemies, A Love Story, naturally I read the book many times. I identified with the story because it was about man who was dishonest with women. I have been that, alas. I paid for it with my own pain and suffering and that of others, of course. And I’m not alone obviously. That’s part of the reason the book is a classic. One of the lines from the book that always gave me the shivers was a simple quote for the Talmud: “Great is truth. Mightiest of all things.”

Hard to deny, isn’t it? When people ask why I left the Democratic Party, I think that’s part of it. It began before 9/11 when Clinton waved his finger at the television camera and told hundreds of millions of people he never had sex with “that woman.” Wow – talk about mentir est honteux. I can’t conceive of being able to say something like that under those circumstances. These days I would have difficulty lying about where I had breakfast, let alone that. And I’m glad of it. Since then it’s been hard for me to take Clinton seriously. He seems a coward to me, in a fundamental way.

And since I don’t see Kerry as an honest man either, I don’t take much of what he says seriously. The reason for his vaunted flip-flops is nothing was there anyway in the first place. There is nothing to flip from or to. It’s all made up, like his trip to Cambodia.

Is Bush better? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect somewhat. Even though I am an agnostic, I think there is something in that religious makeup of his that makes him nervous about lying. It’s like the fear of God that Herman Broder, the haunted protagonist of Enemies, always talked about. That remark Bush made to Tenet quoted by Bob Woodward (that the CIA didn’t have enough information about WMDs) is an indication of a predepostion to honesty a little greater than most politicians. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m not reading him right. But that’s what I see now. Does that mean I am about to join the Republican Party. No, not at all. I’m too burnt for that. But I don’t see the point in joining any political party at the moment. I see it as a compromise.