So imagine this: you are a young woman who has been taken into custody in a strange, dark foreign country. For five months you are held captive, tried as a spy and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. You leave behind a young husband, a little girl, a way of life. You desperately, frantically try to get help but you know how impossible such an effort is. Then one day you are told you are going to a meeting. You think, “this is it, I'm being shipped off to some horrible work camp, it's all over for me.” Can you imagine your despair, fear, and grief?
You are taken to your meeting and, when you walk through the door, there before you stands President Bill Clinton. Tall, handsome, elegant, respected by the leader of the country in which you are imprisoned. How do you keep from fainting? I can't imagine. I just can't imagine the relief that Laura Ling and Euna Lee must have felt. Relief, nothing --- pure, overwhelming, unadulterated joy. We are not forgotten! All I can think is that in that moment President Clinton must have looked like Superman and Hercules and Jesus Christ incarnate to those two young women.
I have watched this story with utter and complete fascination for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I love Bill Clinton --- always have, always will. As my friend Liz said when I was talking to her about it, “I'd do him in a heartbeat.”
It's been fascinating watching the various news outlets over the past 24 hours. MSNBC is overjoyed, Fox News has already moved the story off their home page (no sour grapes there), and Huffington Post's Commenters have been hilarious. My favorite was the poster who said, “Only Bill Clinton could fly to North Korea, have dinner with Kim Jong Il, pick up two chicks and take them home with him.” Followed by, "Just proves when Bill Clinton wants to pick up girls not even North Korea can stop him."
Of course there are the predictable bitter cranks whose whining is reaching a crescendo of protest about giving the North Korean's what the want (respect and an opportunity for good will?), what the negotiations are going to cost us, what about all the other prisoners in the world who don't work for Al Gore? Whine, whine, whine. The concept of finding joy in one success is way beyond their ken.
Another commenter wrote that, had this happened a few months ago, the previous administration would have used it as an excuse to declare war on North Korea. To which someone added, “...and bomb Bolivia.” I admit I laughed out loud when I read that.
But here is the thing that kept going through my mind as I watched the story unfolding, “This is diplomacy. This is what America was once honored and respected for. This is what we need to reclaim.” Diplomacy is a beautiful word. It carries with it the message that no one need is less worthy of being considered than another. Diplomacy is a sign of respect --- not just for those the diplomacy is negotiated with but for those who do the negotiating. Diplomacy is self-respect, this is something the naysayers will never understand.
Someone on Huff-Post posted, “Bill Clinton is a god.” I know for sure that to Laura Ling and Euna Lee he must have looked like one. The spin doctors are hard at work spinning, spinning, spinning. Trying to find a way to diminish this incredible story. But President Bill Clinton did something wonderful for our country yesterday --- he demonstrated to the world that we still have the elegance and intelligence and maturity to be diplomats. Thank God for you, President Clinton.
Thanks for reading.