For the week of December 16 thru December 22, 1998  

Life goes on without the indispensable

Commentary by PAT MURPHY


When Sun Valley’s own, skiing gold medallist Picabo Street, was unable to seal a deal as Sun Valley’s wintertime poster girl, she found a welcome mat– and an amiable cash offer– at Park City, Utah, a Sun Valley ski resort competitor.

Those who’re anguished that Picabo’s absence from Sun Valley might cripple our tourism industry are victims of humankind’s haughtiest myth-- that some among us aren’t mere mortals, but indispensable deities whose presence is necessary to insulate us from perdition.

Disappointed, yes, that Picabo’s public persona is now associated with Park City and not Sun Valley. But count on this: Sun Valley will not shrivel up and die without Picabo, despite the town’s deep affection for her.

The mythology of indispensability is debunked everyday.

Corporate CEOs are fired and business continues as usual. NFL quarterbacks are benched. Generals and admirals retire and the armed forces remain alert. Popes of the Catholic church die and are promptly replaced with no interruption of the church’s worldwide functions.

Now the White House is treating us to a preposterous and shameful hoax in hopes of deifying a man’s indispensability: cynical presidential propagandists predict cataclysmic consequences if President Clinton is removed from office.

Uttered in appropriately grave tones with the president’s unquestioned approval, their declarations hint at the apocalyptic – the U.S. government will grind to a halt in gridlock, the Supreme Court can’t function while the chief justice presides over a Senate impeachment trial, global economies will collapse, panic will break out in the streets of the nation without the man from Arkansas at the helm.

Such balderdash, such a callous con job.

Presidents come and go– 18 in this century alone - and yet the government remains intact and operating throughout. Ditto the world economies.

Four U.S. presidents in the 20th century died in office– McKinley and Kennedy by assassin’s bullets, Harding and Franklin Roosevelt of heart attacks. One, Nixon, resigned midterm in disgrace.

Government didn’t grind to a halt, panic didn’t erupt in the streets, global economies didn’t collapse without popular U.S. presidents suddenly out of office.

This cynical ruse to sanctify Bill Clinton is what Caesars of Rome did in their day to transmogrify themselves from mere men to god-like immortals.

No surprise: this precisely is the objective of the calculating Mr. Clinton and dutiful tribunes, who’re in frantic search for new ways to hold onto their slipping power, even if requires ????? (unexpected end of file)

Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.

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