By Robert Ross



A Bumpy Road Ahead

"Listen to me, I'm going to tell you this once, I did not . . ."
                                        -President William Jefferson Clinton


In January 1998, we as a nation embarked on a journey. This journey began slowly, with a statement by William Jefferson Clinton; a statement which was communicated to the Cabinet, politicians, and directly to the American people. This statement was a denial of an "inappropriate" relationship. Unfortunately, instead of bringing closure to rumors and speculation, this assertion quickly took on a life of its own. T.V. talk show ratings soared as pundits debated the subject. Parents were confronted with questions about how to talk with their young children about these explicit topics. And civic teachers had to address the use of graphic language in their classrooms.

As this "denial phenomena" grew, uncertainty gripped the financial community and we began to see wild fluctuations in the stock market. The nation was quickly polarized into camps. One camp said "hey, this is private," the other camp said "the public has a right to know." Then, in September of this year, it was revealed that the above statement by William Jefferson Clinton was false.

The bumpy road ahead
Politics aside, we as a nation are going to be facing a bumpy road ahead. The journey began with the denial, and will end at some point in the distant future with some type of resolution and closure. The road will involve hearing details that many would prefer not to hear. It will involve a nightly barrage from news commentators fixated on one subject. And, as with the O.J. trail, books will be written and careers will be made.

During this process some people will be hurt, government officials will be humiliated and embarrassed. Many will demand that we put this whole issue aside - that we just let it go. But, we are going to have to go through this. The process is going to cause a great deal of uneasiness and insecurity, not only at home but also abroad. We will, as a nation, be both, at our most vulnerable, and at our strongest. Vulnerable, because the integrity of our leader will be under examination; strongest, because we have the determination to find the truth and decide, based on the facts, what a just punishment will be.

Silver lining
Is there a silver lining to all of this? Sure. You may want to fill in the blanks for yourself, but for me there are a couple of issues that stand out. First, I enjoy writing, so as this process has unfolded, it's been a letter writer's paradise. I've written the White House more times in the last month than in my entire lifetime. I've sent letters to Congressional Representatives and Senators on a daily basis. I've also used this crisis as an opportunity to learn about how government works, the House, the Senate, and the various committees. In fact, I've been so obsessed with this current scandal that I'm even considering taking a trip to Washington, D.C., to get a first-hand look at where and how things work.

In spite of my "silver lining," this is not going to be a pretty spectacle as we move forward in the investigative process. In fact, it's going to be downright bumpy!

The definition of bumpy
Just so there's no confusion about definitions . . . bumpy means day after day of never-ending talk of censure and impeachment. Day after day of world leaders asking if we're capable of maintaining the role as the world's super power.

And if the recent wild fluctuations in the stock market are any indiction of things to come, then it would be wise to assume there will be more of the same. I think it would be advisable to prepare for the worst - economic uncertainty, global uncertainty, and political uncertainty. Hope for the best, and let the chips fall where they will. This too will pass, and in the end, we'll all be a little wiser, and a little stronger.

Copyright 1998 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

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