Kenneth Starr reflects on truth and spin, history and heroism. “We live in the age of incivility and rancor.”
Former independent Counsel, 53, Washington, DC.
We now live in an age where motives are everything. Why don't we ask about the facts? Why don't we examine merits as opposed to motivations?
I believe it is heroic to be willing to go against the grain.
I'm reading an inspirational book called Halftime, about an individual who goes through a midlife crisis and determines that he is going to live the second half of his life for significance, since he lived the first half of his life for success. I'm finding that very intriguing.
History teaches us that we do in fact shape the course of events by our own conduct, by our own actions. We would do well to listen to the voices of history. One of my favorites is Churchill, who was calling throughout the 1930s for England to rearm. The vigilance of Churchill and the obtuseness of the overwhelming majority of the British people is stunning to me.
I think it is perilous for us to live in a poll‑driven, plebiscite democracy. The very idea of a representative democracy is that we rely upon the Churchills, Roosevelts, Thatchers, Reagans, and Trumans for leadership. They should not simply be a weather vane; they should be leaders coming to decisions based upon values and knowledge and saying, This is the right course.
Depending on polls, we would probably abolish one or more amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.
Spin is focusing on one specific fact and magnifying that fact as if it's the totality of reality. It leads to stereotypes. It leads to complete lack of rigor in thinking. It leads to bumper‑sticker life rather than a life of analysis and reasoned decision making.
We live in the age of incivility and rancor.
I guess my regret is that law enforcement was not more vigilant and vigorous in Arkansas to begin with, nor was, in an age of intense media scrutiny, the media especially effective in ferreting out what clearly were serious issues in Arkansas. Which of course is what gave rise to all this in the first place.
The challenge is to be able to communicate a principled basis for one's position in an age where attention spans are so short.
The president, through his lawyers, fashioned a constitutional rule and made it up out of whole cloth. There was no such thing, ever, as the idea of immunity of the president from a civil suit in his individual capacity. Just as the defenders of the Alamo could have gotten on their horses and ridden away, my colleagues could have done the same.
Faith, family, and friends. Those three pillars were very important in providing me with the support I needed.
I think each of us is that mixture of good and potential evil.
Felix Frankfurter quite rightly said the history of liberty is in large measure the history of procedure. The way to guard against the corruption of power is to have procedure and process.
I'm in the very early stages of writing a book on the Supreme Court. It's a book designed for a lay audience. I plan to use absolutely no Latin whatsoever. I started on Saturday, and I'm on page 22.
The last time I played organized sports was in the ninth grade. Football. Offensive lineman, which was a laugh. I wanted to be a running back, but I was terrible ‑slow and scrawny.
There are so many morality plays in sports, of testing oneself and then becoming a team person. You do things for the team. The quarterback sure better give credit to the offensive line.
I full well understand that the divisiveness that flowed from the impeachment is deep, and it was foreseeable. The history of this episode could have been entirely different if, in January of 1998, the president had seen fit simply to tell the truth.