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Leading by Example By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 22, 2000

"DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO." Thus have parents always admonished their children. But as British conservative statesman Edmund Burke in 1796 observed: "Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other." Our children are shaped far more by our behavior than our words. So it is, too, in our nation. When politicians preach one thing but do another, they offer the tribute vice pays to virtue—hypocrisy. But they teach the citizenry to do as they do.

Great leaders should lead by example. Let's ponder how this could be done with some of today's hottest political issues. If you have other ideas for how our leaders could lead by example, not mere words, let me know.


1. Gun Control
President Clinton, First Lady Hillary formerly known as Mrs. Clinton, and Vice President Gore deplore gun violence and want tough new restrictions on firearm purchasing, carrying, and use. The Clinton Administration endeavored to outlaw possession of any firearm within 1,000 feet (roughly 1/5 of a mile) of any school (including unmarked home schools, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)—which, in any crowded city with many schools, would effectively outlaw all possession of guns. It has banned firearms from virtually all federal lands, including forests where hunters for centuries tracked game. Those using such weapons to "poach" deer, e.g., can now be punished as they were in the days of kings. "Assault" weapons are gradually being outlawed, their definition being expanded bit by bit to include any semi-automatic firearm or any gun with more than ten-shot capacity. "Cop-killer bullets" capable of penetrating a bullet-proof vest—e.g., every cartridge used for deer hunting—have been targeted for prohibition by the Clinton Administration.

How could these Democrats lead by their example to a more peaceful, gun-free America? All have said that guns are dangerous and unnecessary. And they have assured us that we can and should rely on our local police to protect us in our homes, cars, and persons.

But when these three politicians travel, they are not alone. Each is surrounded by a Praetorian Guard of Secret Service agents heavily armed with—you guessed it—guns. In olden days when I worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., some of those agents surrounding the President carried beneath their jackets hanging from a shoulder strap a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun. Others carried sawed-off shotguns.

What higher-level weapons they carry today I do not know. It's been reported that the Clinton Administration purchased more than 65,000 Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine guns. As small as an Uzi, these weapons are capable of firing 800 rounds of 9mm ammo per minute. When asked why such weapons were needed by the more than 10 percent of American law-enforcement people who are now Federal "police"—everything from armed Forest Rangers to IRS agents—a Clinton underling reportedly replied that such weapons were needed for "crowd control."

The Secret Service Protective Detail agents around the President, Vice President, and First Lady are so heavily armed that if, God forbid, an angry mob closed in on them, these agents combined could gun down more than a thousand people in a matter of seconds. They are undoubtedly armed with fully automatic, high-bullet capacity "assault" weapons forbidden to ordinary citizens, and they are routinely allowed to carry these weapons into churches, airports, schools, and lots of other public places off-limits to everybody else carrying as little as a Swiss Army knife.

Such protection is needed for our rulers, they will say, because ours is an armed and violent society. But if it is too hazardous for our leaders to appear without a small army of gun-toting bodyguards, is society not likewise too dangerous for law-abiding citizens to be denied arms for self-defense? Before the birth of the imperial presidency, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson could walk unprotected on the streets of America with no fear of harm in an age when almost all voters possessed firearms.

Secret Service agents are selected for their great courage, skill, responsibility, and willingness to lay down their lives to protect our leaders regardless of political party. But however well screened, they are human and at the beck and call of some high-handed politicians.

During last Friday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City, some of the agents protecting Hillary reportedly got rough with at least six reporters. "The Secret Service just lost their minds, in my opinion," WABC reporter Glenn Shuck told local talk host Sean Hannity on air. "I mean they just started pushing and shoving; female camera people five feet tall were getting thrown to the ground, cameras flying. Myself, I was grabbed by the shoulder, I was thrown back over. I think somebody from Channel 11 landed on my back," as reporters trying to question Mrs. Clinton were forced to the ground. One Secret Service agent reportedly raised his hand in front of a CBS cameraman's lens to prevent videotaping of the crowd booing the First Lady. The establishment national media did not report anything about this heavy-handed "crowd control" of journalists by Secret Service agents.

Mr. President, Mr. Gore, and the New York Senate candidate formerly known as Mrs. Clinton, please lead by your example on this issue. To demonstrate how unnecessary firearms are for self-defense, order your Secret Service contingents to disarm. (Frankly, it looks silly when you give speeches calling for gun control while surrounded by a Praetorian Guard armed to the teeth with assault weapons … and it sends a conflicting message louder than any words you could say about this issue.) If you will not take away their guns, at least require each agent to have trigger locks in place, and to carry their weapons in a locked, tamper-proof suitcase for safety. Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with you—and your example.


2. Gas
With fuel prices soaring, America needs to see our leaders conserving energy. How wonderful an example it would set if President Clinton and Vice President Gore stopped all their flights around the country to attend fundraisers, flights that waste many thousands of gallons of jet fuel daily. Hillary likewise could stop her use of Air Force corporate jets. She has to date made approximately 70 flights to and around New York State for her campaign at a cost to taxpayers of about $1.4 million (of which she has reimbursed $30,000, roughly 2 percent of the bill to taxpayers). Harder to figure, because Hillary's flights are given the priority of Air Force One, hundreds of commercial airliners are forced to circle or divert course across the Northeast whenever she flies to, from, or around New York. This wastes tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel and lost commercial airlines passenger productivity.

To lead by example, these politicians should stop using jet aircraft. They should appear at fundraisers and campaign stops only by remote satellite TV broadcasts or via Internet video and audio. If they must travel, it should be only by the kinds of collectivized transit into which their "urban sprawl" propaganda aims to force us—light-rail systems, crowded urban buses, or at most the flying buses known as commercial airliners. Show by your example how wonderful and reliable such "peoples" transit systems can be for We the Sheeple of the United States.


3. Green
To make sure he did not scrape bottom during that notorious canoe photo-op a year ago, Vice President Al Gore's operatives released from a utility dam in drought-stressed Connecticut enough water to flush all the toilets in America for nearly one day—including all the toilets not yet forcibly converted to 1.4 gallons per flush by Mr. Gore's enviro-authoritarianism. President Clinton's operatives, to enhance his photo-ops, cut down native plants at the edge of the Grand Canyon and removed old-growth trees from downtown Youngstown, Ohio. After being told by a constituent that she appeared snooty and "not like us" by arriving at Upstate campaign appearances in a limousine, Hillary spent more than $125,000 taxpayer dollars to buy and bulletproof an SUV so she would appear more appealing to suburban families. This SUV, alas, burns more gas and seems less environmentally correct than the already-paid-for limousine she garaged. Mr. Gore was gung ho for putting an additive into our gasoline to reduce smog. But with new evidence suggesting that it seeps into and increases the health hazard of ground water, the Clinton–Clinton–Gore Administration is now rushing to replace it with Archer-Daniels-Midland taxpayer-subsidized ethanol—another quick fix that may have future health consequences.


To lead by example, Gore should learn to hold his water, outdoors and at White House meetings where his fundraising assignments are being discussed.. Clinton should repent by replacing the environmental trees and shrubs his arrogance destroyed—and by planting a Bush in the Oval Office. Hillary should take a hike, or a bike, and stop stepping on the gas. All should publicly confess that if it is wrong to tamper with the ancient order of natural ecosystems; it is also wrong when socialists like themselves try by force to overthrow America's natural political and economic order that has evolved over centuries. Any true conservationist, they should admit, should also be a political conservative. Any true conservationist should also be an economic libertarian who recognizes that, as the book Bionomics makes clear, laissez faire is the natural ecology of economic reality. Capitalism is the only natural economic system, the only system fully compatible with human rights and liberty.


4. Graft, Education, and Goodness.
It appears both schizophrenic and self-contradictory when Al Gore declares himself the champion of campaign-finance reform in speeches before organized labor or million-dollar lobbyist fundraisers. It seems surreal when Hillary proclaims her moral superiority while stuffing her New York carpetbag with cash from Pakistan. Hillary is two-faced when she marches in New York City's lavender-and-green gay Irish parade, declaring herself a Gaelic, and then after pocketing their money betrays gays and lesbians by marching in the traditional St. Patrick's Day parade that permits no gay or other political banners. But by now all Americans understand that Bill, Hillary, and Gore have betrayed everybody—especially the most loyal traditional supporters of the Democratic Party. Blue-collar union workers are discovering how this Administration sold them and their jobs out to Communist China, favoring instead the ascendant white-collar government-employee unions whose members love high taxes, bigger government, and do not look too hard for the union label when a Red Chinese product at Wal-Mart costs $2 less than an American one. Bill, Hillary, and Al have turned the Democratic Party into a wholly owned subsidiary of the foreign power whose Beijing bucks elected and reelected them to the White House.


To lead by example, these three politicians could instantly reform American politics overnight. Just stop taking money from special interests. Take no soft money. Take no hard money. Take no money so slippery that you cannot tell whether it is hard or soft. Denounce any and all ads done by others to attack your opponents or to enhance your reputation.

Do not refuse to stop raking in money on the grounds that this would unilaterally disarm you against Republican opponents. Such an argument is like the old adage that the only lawyer in a small town cannot find enough work to pay his bills—but when a second lawyer moves to town, there is suddenly more than enough work to make them both rich. This mercenary arms race has already turned our politicians from public servants into cash-raising machines devoting most of their time not to serving voters but serving big-money contributors.

Americans are fed up with having the best government money can buy. If you genuinely believe today's politics is legalized graft, then lead by your example. Stop pocketing the payola. If the game is crooked, walk away from it and ask the American people to support you for your honesty. In thus redeeming yourself, you might redeem our Republic. You might even shame the other side into following your lead.

All three of you call for reforming education. But you have chosen to send your own children to private schools while denying such choice to ordinary Americans, forcing these parents to entrust their children to inferior politicized socialist public schools to serve the selfish interests of your teacher-union allies. In these schools the three "R"s taught are racism, recycling, and reproduction.

But every president is an "education President," teaching our children about life by his or her example. The Clinton–Clinton–Gore Administration has for our children been a school for scandal. (Is this why you ignored the Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent call for you to encourage Americans to get tested for AIDS by setting an example by being publicly tested yourselves?)

Mr. Gore, you have acknowledged that President Clinton made "mistakes" in his personal moral behavior, and that you made "mistakes" in 1996 fundraising. It is clear to everyone in this country with an IQ above 85 that you and Mr. Clinton won reelection in 1996 by cheating. Had that campaign been based on honest fundraising and truthful politics, you would not be Vice President today.

Every day that Bill Clinton remains president, he is like a giant billboard sitting in front of our children's faces on which they read from his example the message "Cheating Pays! Look at the hundreds of criminal and immoral things I did, and I'm still President!" Unless this message is erased, it will poison our nation for generations to come. It could spell our demise as a moral and spiritual force for good in the world, and end our future as a great nation.

Mr. Gore, you could today pledge in writing that under no circumstances would you grant a presidential pardon to Bill or Hillary Clinton, or to any of your or their criminal accomplices. What message does it send to our children that thus far you have refused all requests for such a "No Pardon" pledge?

Or even better, Mr. Vice President, you could become a hero whose name and honor will be remembered proudly a thousand years from now throughout the Earth and in the thirteen Mars colonies. You could repudiate the Clinton politics of greed and arrogance, of "truth" without consequences, of phony confession without repentance or penalty, of power and self-glorification at any price. You could announce tomorrow that you will no longer try to grab the top rung of a ladder you climbed dishonestly, no longer use the office of Vice President you reached unethically and have exploited dishonorably.

You could at noon tomorrow resign the vice presidency and release your delegates to the upcoming Democratic National Convention. You could call on the Clintons and all other corrupt politicians in our land to do likewise, and to submit yourselves for arrest and trial. By this action you would achieve a greatness and immortality far beyond that of just another petty Caesar who briefly stole the presidency. By resigning to affirm the primacy of honor, truth, and justice, you would gain the moral authority to reform and renew our society. You would lose the presidency but save your own soul—and, by your example, America's and humankind's.

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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