Reading Glenn Woiceshyn’s 1998 article The Lewinsky Sex Allegations Against Clinton are Totally Believable draws some interesting parallels to President Trump:
Clinton became president not because he is a deft man of principle, but because he is a deft pragmatist, one who skillfully monitors (and manipulates) public opinion, and alters his “principles” accordingly.
Pragmatism, the philosophy dominating modern politics, involves eschewing principles in the name of “doing what will work.” The classic example of a pragmatist was Britain’s then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who abandoned principles to appease Hitler’s power lust by giving him Czechoslovakia, all in the name of peace. The result was war. Without principles, one cannot identify what will and won’t work.
Pragmatism eschews valid moral principles, such as honesty, integrity and justice, which leads to a policy of “doing whatever I can get away with.” If elections can be won by making promises one knows one can’t keep, or deliberately generating false hope about disastrous and wasteful schemes like Medicare and Social Security, or accepting financial contributions from Chinese dictators, or lying about adulterous affairs (such as with Gennifer Flowers), then do it. Clinton’s latest big lie was his claim in his recent State of the Union speech that “We have the smallest government in 35 years.”
How does one know if one will get away with lying or adultery? Ultimately, by feelings. Pragmatism sinks to: “Do I feel that I will get away with it this time?” If one is impulsively driven by strong adulterous urges and gets away with satisfying them once, that builds “confidence” to try again. “Success” at fooling others breeds recklessness, and a perverted feeling of triumph over others and over reality. According to Gennifer Flowers, Clinton once asked her to have sex in a bathroom at the Arkansas’ governor’s mansion while his wife and 50 guests were outside on the lawn. (CNN — Larry King Live, Jan. 23, 1998.) Imagine the “triumphant” feeling of getting away with that!