Letter to the editor: "I just read your article entitled 'Pray for the President' in the February 21st issue of WORLD.... If I do mention Bill Clinton in prayer, it's likely to be a 'request' that he'll get a conviction and be removed from office. But what if Christians all across the country-all across the world-prayed for the conviction of the heart and soul of Bill Clinton? What if God answered that prayer with a yes...."
-Crin Pullins, Bloomington, Ind.
Dear Mrs. Pullins,
Here's a column inspired by your letter:
Bill Clinton's State of the Union address, 1999:
Mr. Speaker, my fellow Americans, one year ago tonight I stood before you and announced that the state of the union was strong. Many journalists commented on how strong I seemed, after a week of turmoil concerning charges of sexual and official misconduct that I denied. Some of my closest aides told me afterwards that the speech was the best performance of my life.
I am here tonight to do what no president has ever done. I am here to confess before all of you that the performance was only that: a performance. I had spent the previous five days in agitated thought: Should I confess the truth-that I had violated oaths to my wife and to my country-and then step down from office? Or should I deny, deny, deny?
Even my closest advisers do not know how close I came to resignation. Through the much-maligned work of Mr. Starr several are now on trial, but the responsibility rests with me; I was the one who insisted that we do whatever it might take to discredit those who wanted to get at the truth. I thought I possessed a greater truth: that no matter what I have done I am a good man destined to lead this country into the 21st century.
My fellow Americans, our external measurements show that the state of the union is still strong, despite October's stock market collapse, the Christmas terrorist missile attack, and the danger presented by Saddam Hussein's pan-Arabic agreement. But, even before those events transpired, I was realizing that my own state was not strong. For years I carried a big Bible to church, but last summer-I am still not sure why-I began to feel increasingly burdened to read it.
Reading the Bible, meditating on it, praying over it, has changed me. Before, I could compartmentalize, ignoring action I was privately ashamed of in order to conduct the public business in ways I thought were right. But, as I read the Bible, the words of Psalm 51, addressed by David to God after his adultery, became my understanding: "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight."
My fellow Americans, some of you will understand deeply what I am saying, and some of you will be mystified. But I tell you that I have no other choice but to announce that the charges against me of both adultery and obstruction of justice are true. My public face has stayed on these many months, but for some reason last summer I began to have in private the feelings David wrote about in Psalm 32 some 3,000 years ago: "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long."
So here I stand, and I can do no other. But I have also taken to heart words from God in that psalm: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." I expect that the wheels of justice will grind on, and I will take whatever punishment is exacted of me. Those who wish to pursue impeachment may do so. But I have two years left in my term, and I do not plan to resign. In fact, I have new energy to correct, I hope, some of the mistakes I have made.
Mr. Speaker, the first new piece of legislation that I hope to sign into law is a ban on partial-birth abortion. I ask your colleagues in the legislative branch to put such a bill on my desk as quickly as possible. Here is a list of other policy initiatives on which I will now look favorably....
The above is fiction. God could make it fact. Thanks for your letter, Mrs. Pullins. Let's pray.