President's Private Lifestyle
Former Clinton classmate,
now living in Olmsted Falls
by Shirley Tracy
In January of 1960, my father retired from the Air Force, and my parents
and I moved back to Dad's home town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. We built
a home on Lake Hamilton; Dad, opened his dental practice on Central Avenue;
and I transferred to Southwest Junior High. That fall, I was one of nearly
twelve hundred students attending Hot Springs High School, graduating three
years later in 1963. Each school day began with prayer and Bible readings.
We walked the same halls many of our parents had walked and sat at old
wooden desks in our classrooms, where we could look out the windows at
a sloping, tree-covered landscape. We read a variety of literature
from James Thurber to William Shakespeare; dissected frogs in biology class;
struggled with Latin, Spanish or French; and selected vocational training
classes or followed an academic curriculum. All of us took American history
and American Government. And it was in Mr. Leasure's American Government
class that I met Billy Clinton.
Billy was a junior that year, while I was a senior. He was tall, clean
cut, and a little on the heavy side. All of the teachers I knew seemed
to like him. I think that was because he was extremely intelligent and
congenial. Since I had poor vision, Billy was recruited to read a couple
of exams for me in American government class. Our political views were
quite opposite, I being conservative and Billy leaning way to the left,
but I remember him as friendly and cheerful. He always had a smile and
a pleasant word for me.
Hot Springs National Park nestles in the foothills of the Ouachita
Mountains. The city itself, a separate municipality, lies mainly in a peaceful
valley. It surrounds part of the park and is cradled by five small mountains.
In the early sixties, the town was growing, especially because of the influx
of tourists who came to enjoy our famous resort area; but everybody still
knew just about everybody else (or at least someone in his or her family).
My grandfather, Charles C. Disheroon, was acquainted with the Clinton family.
From him I learned that Billy's mother, Virginia, was a nurse. Her husband,
Billy's dad, had died either during or shortly after World War II. Virginia
married Roger Clinton, who adopted Billy. My father knew Billy's uncle,
Raymond Clinton, owner of the Clinton Buick Agency in town. In fact, my
dad bought most of his cars from Raymond, who was extremely proud of his
adopted nephew and often told Dad how he was encouraging Billy to go to
Our high school was rich in tradition. We cheered wildly at pep rallies
and football games. I sang in the high school choir, and every year at
Christmas, we had a beautiful candlelight program in which we sang, while
students acted out the birth of Jesus Christ. In the spring, we put on
a concert, singing a mix of Judeo-Christian songs as well as traditional
and popular selections. Our athletic department encouraged competition,
but also taught about good sportsmanship. Our drama department produced
plays like Ben-Hur and The Robe. The United States Supreme Court had not
yet made its infamous ruling. Though religion was never taught in class,
freedom of expression was encouraged, even freedom of religious expression.
Billy played in our high school band. He was in Student Council as
well as a number of other activities; but I don't remember his being particularly
popular. I don't even know if he dated much.
After high school, I went away to collage and graduate school, losing
track of most of my high school acquaintances, including Billy Clinton.
I was married and raising a family in Ohio by the time Bill was elected
governor of Arkansas. After the death of my father in 1984, I failed
to keep up with Arkansas politics. The next time I heard anything about
Bill, he was a candidate in the presidential primaries. While I disagreed
with Bill's position on the role of government, part of me was excited
that someone from my hometown might be elected President. Two things,
however, disappointed me from the beginning: First, Bill was pro choice,
even though he had attended Catholic school up through eighth grade and
was a member of a Baptist Church. Second, he was constantly talking
on television about being from Hope, Arkansas, with little mention of the
fact that he and his mother had moved to Hot Springs when he was very young.
I wondered how much I really knew about my former classmate.
Before we could catch our breaths, the election was over and Billy Clinton,
high school classmate, was William Jefferson Clinton, President of the
United States. It was time to support the new administration in Washington.
We know that anyone in authority has been put there by God Himself. Paul
tells us, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for
there is no authority except that which God has established" (Romans 13:1ÑNIV)
Unfortunately, Questions quickly began to surface about President Clinton's
ethical and moral character. I can only hope the stories are untrue. And
if any of them are true, is his personal life any of my business? The answer
is Yes! As a chosen leader of this great country, his behavior, good or
bad, is a reflection on the people he represents. In his inaugural address,
President Clinton himself said, "If we want America to lead, we've got
to set a good example."
Billy Graham is reported to have said, in a New York Times interview,
that a leader's moral character also influences the way he or she does
his or her job. Indeed, how can the two be separated? In addition, leaders
in business and government become role models, whether negative or positive.
What does God's Word say? "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is
a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NASB) Today, our nation is in
disgrace, whether we recognize it or not. As a society, we have allowed
greed, dishonesty, sexual passions, and thirst for violence to rule our
hearts. This immorality is growing and entrapping our children, partly
because Christians have failed to speak out. Good cannot coexist with unchecked
evil. Sin is like yeast. In 1 Corinthians 5:6B Paul asks, "Don't you know
that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?"
I believe we misunderstand scripture when we say it is not our place
to judge others. 2 timothy 4:2 instructs us to "Preach the Word; be prepared
in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage, with great
patience and careful instruction." (NIV) Would this not apply to our nation's
President and Congressional leaders as well as to its citizens? Though
the economy seems strong, we must not blind ourselves. Proverbs 16:8 says,
"Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice."
We have an obligation to hold our country's leaders accountable. As Christians,
we must not accept the false teaching that morality is relative. If we
believe there is a God, then we must also believe there is a universal
moral law in place, and everyone is subject to it. Otherwise, who sets
the standards? King David wrote, "An oracle is within my heart concerning
the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his
sin." (Psalm 36:1, 2).
What does God expect of a nation's rulers? Psalm 2:10,11 says, ÒTherefore,
you kings, be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with
fear and rejoice with trembling.Ó And when King David was dying,
he charged his son Solomon, who was to be his successor, to be strong,
show himself a man, and observe Òwhat the Lord your God requires.Ó
(1 Kings 2:1-3.)
One of God's requirements is honesty. Proverbs 17:7 says, "Arrogant
lips are unsuited to a fool, how much worse lying lips to a ruler." And
Proverbs 29:12 warns that if a ruler listens to lies, "all his officials
The Bible also speaks to a ruler's moral purity. Proverbs 31:3 instructs
":Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings."
The prophet Elijah confronted Ahab concerning his moral and spiritual depravity
(1 Kings 21), and God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David regarding
his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). David was a man after God's own heart,
and he repented; nevertheless, he had to suffer the consequences of what
he had done. (2 Samuel 12:13 and Psalm 51). In spite of this, God kept
his promises to David.
Throughout history, God has blessed those nations that have honored
Him. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, it says, "If my people, who are called by my
name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their
wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and
will heal their land."
The Old Testament gives example after example of kingdoms that rose
and fell as their people served and then rejected God and his moral law.
During the early church age, the Roman Empire fell into ruins primarily
because of a decadent government and a Godless society, who persecuted
God's people and who were controlled by their own lustful pleasures. Hitler's
Germany was defeated primarily for the same reasons. The Nazi cruelty resulted
in all kinds of atrocities and a disregard for human life.
God's word gives us the right, no, the obligation, to "correct, rebuke
and encourage." Jesus said, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he
repents, forgive him." (Luke 17:3 NIV)
Whatever goes on in Washington, we can take comfort in knowing that
Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms, "far
above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that
can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come."
(Ephesians 1:21 NIV).
I respect the office of the President, and I thank God we are blessed
with a government that is elected by the people. We should get involved,
learn about the issues and vote. Most important, we must pray for all of
our leaders. "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession
and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
This is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and
to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV). C