What two presidents, one former and one current, might have said this week.
President Bill Clinton, when asked by Craig Melvin of NBC about the #MeToo movement and Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky while Clinton was president, might have said something like this:
“Craig, I welcome the #MeToo movement. Men in power have for too long used their power and privilege to treat women in inappropriate ways for their own pleasure. I am guilty. I did that while I was president with a White House intern. It was irresponsible and reprehensible behavior. My actions caused great pain and embarrassment to my wife and daughter. I broke faith and it caused me great anguish. To add to that, I then lied directly to the American people. It also negatively affected my ability to govern and brought about my impeachment. I am sorry for my role in that.
“Craig, I am deeply sorry. In the two decades since I have sought spiritual and practical counsel and believe that I have made good strides to being a better person. My family has forgiven me. I believe that God has forgiven me. But I still bear the pain and embarrassment for what I did.
“You asked if I have apologized directly to Ms. Lewinsky. I tried to do so in a public way years ago, but I have not done so directly. I believe it would cause more pain to my wife and daughter if I spoke to Ms. Lewinsky, and perhaps even to her. But if she is listening, I will use this opportunity to say again how sorry I am for my behavior that involved her and brought her pain. I was in the wrong. There is no one to blame for that but myself.
“Craig, perhaps you can understand how I would like that terrible chapter in my life to be over. It is painful that you brought it up now. I hope that you having done so now will serve in a redemptive way.”
President Trump, upon hearing that many of the Philadelphia Eagles would not show up for the White House ceremony celebrating their Super Bowl victory last February, might have said something like this:
“I have been informed that many of the Philadelphia Eagles do not plan to attend the scheduled White House celebration of their stirring Super Bowl victory. I understand that they are troubled by what I have said about NFL players that have chosen to kneel during the playing of the national anthem before games and the recent action of NFL owners about the anthem.
“This saddens me. As president, it is my oath and solemn duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That document ensures the right to free speech. While I wish they would see it otherwise, it is their right to kneel, or sit, remain in their locker rooms, or stand and raise a fist in protest during the playing of the national anthem. Some Americans see that as disrespectful of our flag and our military, but I have been told that those are not their concerns. Their concern is the unfair and unjust treatment that African-Americans still receive in our nation, often at the hands of law enforcement officers, which is a valid concern.
“I am a white person of privilege. Perhaps this is a time for me to learn from them. If the Eagles would be willing, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with them and hear their concerns directly, whether at the White House or a place of their choosing. I have been elected to be president of all Americans, not just privileged white Americans. I hope their decision will now serve in a redemptive way.”
Clinton and Trump might have said words something like those, but they didn’t.