The fevered scandals surrounding the president are strikingly like Watergate. I’ve been avidly watching the unfolding drama and the sensational allegations. I’ve also watched the feeding frenzy and sensationalism, which I must say has brought back a flood of memories. For despite what the media says, this kind of fevered scandal is strikingly like Watergate.
Now, I’ve turned down many requests for interviews and comments. I’ve been concerned, as one who’s been a partisan and through Watergate, that almost anything I said could be misconstrued. But my heart is heavy for the country, and I’ve decided to speak on this issue to the BreakPoint audience, recognizing the great gravity of this scandal for our leaders and for our nation.
First, let me suggest some caution. As a veteran of the granddaddy of all political scandals—Watergate—I hope Americans will be discerning about what they read or hear in the media from either side. Twenty-five years ago, as I sat inside a besieged White House, I discovered that roughly half of everything that appeared in the press was wrong. And as a result of the mass hysteria it created, what ought to have been the deliberate processes of justice were cut short.
So I suggest a healthy dose of skepticism toward the media frenzy. Let’s allow the legal processes to do its work, both for the sake of the country and for the sake of fairness for everyone involved.
THERE IS MORE AT STAKE HERE THAN ONE MAN’S FATE.
Second, we should avoid taking any glee in what’s happening to the president. I know there are those who oppose his policies, but taking delight in the misfortune of others is unworthy of a Christian. We ought to remember that there’s much more at stake here than one man’s fate. At the root of America’s moral decay is a declining respect for authority. Whether it’s the government, the church, or the family, Americans are increasingly disdainful of the authority of these God-ordained institutions. As a result, we’re rapidly becoming a land of 260 million supreme beings. And this current scandal only reinforces this dangerous trend.
Third, if there was wrongdoing, I’m waiting to hear somebody say: “Sure, we did some wrong things, plenty of them, and here’s what they are. I would like to ask for forgiveness.” Had President Nixon done this during Watergate—had he admitted wrongdoing and apologized—I’m convinced he would have served out his entire presidency. The American people are very forgiving—and so should we be as Christians. None of us—Democrat or Republican—has any business being self-righteous.
Fourth, there’s an awful lot of hypocrisy in all this. The president’s friends—who seem to be the first ones calling for his resignation—are the same ones who used to tell us, “character doesn’t matter.” Well, if this scandal doesn’t teach us anything else, it ought to teach us what integrity means. The word itself means “wholeness.” It means the same person offstage as onstage. Indeed, character does count.
There is one thing I hope you will do. This scandal threatens to divide our nation deeply. We belong on our knees, praying for the president, the nation, and for righteousness. Not only because the Bible tells us to, but because before this is over, I suspect that our nation will desperately need a healthy dose of God’s healing grace.