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Hart's Withdrawal From the Presidential Campaign

May 15, 1987

In 1960 author Joseph Wood Krutch wrote a now-famous essay, "The New Immorality," which dealt with the growing rift between private wrongdoing and the need to maintain a public stance of moral well-being. Former Sen. Gary Hart's fall from grace would seem to justify the author's fear in the face of a growing national problem. The matter here isn't simply one of not casting the first stone or any stone, but of realizing that there is no line that can be drawn between any person's "private" and "public" lives

Each of us has, to a certain extent, a face that meets the public every day and influences it; ideally, it is the same one that, without too much distortion, stares back in the morning from the bathroom mirror. The growing feelings of resentment on the part of the people toward their elected officials seems still to reflect this belief in the inherent goodness and idealism of those we would have lead us, and whose mirror, in the morning, must mirror us , whose posters must show us our most truly representative selves, whose speeches must speak in our absolutely honest behalf. Hence the letdown, the sorrow, and the anger when self -betrayal occurs.

Yet more and more frequently we hear that politicians' lives, however full of misconduct, should have no bearing on their public ones; that when it comes to "performing well in public office" their performance alone should be judged. They will do well out there, on that stage, we say; just don't tell us what happens to them in the wings. In the wings they are "human," just like us, that's all; but in the glare of the lights they must be different, better, higher, nobler. They must give us back, in other words, ourselves.

Perhaps Hart's main flaw was that he courted Hollywood, and grew too used to the wings. As we have. Perhaps it is time for the performance, on all levels, to end. Time for us to see ourselves again, undistorted, undivided, in the mirror of conscience.

MARTIN SHEA

North Hollywood

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