Moist eyes—from Rousseau to Clinton
READERS of The Public Interest know that ideas have consequences, sometimes long delayed ones. Even so, the notion of a link between Rousseau and Clinton may seem tenuous. Except, perhaps, to a certain kind of codger, who would snort that the two had at least one thing in common: their obvious moral depravity. And that snort would be justified, at least to this extent: The goodness that both men have sought to project—and compassion has been important to them primarily as evincing this goodness— is for both of them a substitute for virtue. And this entitles us to regard Clinton as the beneficiary of a moral upheaval instigated by Rousseau.