Friday, June 3, 2011

Public sin requires public confession and repentance

Last weekend my wife and I watched the movie Frost/Nixon. It is a "historical recreation" of the background to the famous interviews that David Frost did with Richard Nixon in 1977, a few years after Nixon had been forced to resign as the President of the USA because of the Watergate scandal. It is certainly worth watching.

I thought the portrayal of Nixon was excellent but not of Frost. I had not appreciated how Nixon was such a "charmer" or his talent for obfuscation. The movie portrays Frost as a superficial smiling glamour boy but if you watch the original interviews or the interview of Frost by Mike Wallace (CBS 60 minutes) I think he had more substance.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This includes corruption of the critical faculties so one becomes delusional about what is actually right and wrong. This is highlighted by Nixon's classic claim: "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal".

The movie also made me appreciate what a wounding experience Watergate was for the American people. Many desperately wanted Nixon to clearly confess that he did the wrong thing, broke the law, and to apologise for it. Nixon also wanted public redemption, but on his own terms of self justification. Public sin requires public confession and repentance. Unfortunately, Nixon never clearly did that.

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