November 26, 2011


Gratitude for the Fall: an interview with Timothy S. Goeglein (Kathryn Jean Lopez, 11/25/11, National Review)

TIMOTHY S. GOEGLEIN: The root of any sin is our fallen human nature. And yes, I think at some level all of us understand what our vulnerabilities and weaknesses are or could be. Bill Buckley once wrote it was a remarkable thing to be having a conversation with a president of the United States and see him taking notes while you are speaking. I was never a confidant of the president nor was I on the senior White House team. But I know what Bill meant. The contrails of that kind of power can be long and winding. The White House and its environs can be a heady place: the history of it all, its projection of influence, the place where the most powerful man in the world both works and resides.

I do believe the capacity for self-deception can be large, and so while I was aware that pride was taking root, I did not face it directly. I deeply regret that now, as I make clear in the book, and it is why I chose to begin my memoir with a powerful verse from Proverbs: "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom." I learned firsthand the power of that passage, and it cut with a serrated edge.

LOPEZ: "Even as I write these words, the horror of that morning and the events of that day come back to haunt me with the pain and awfulness I inflicted on others but most especially the three people I love most in the world, my wife and sons. I embarrassed them all deeply in a betrayal rooted in self-centeredness and ambition, both of which were venal." But Tim, you worked in the White House. Why did you need to show off in your hometown paper?

GOEGLEIN: Your question perfectly encapsulates my failure, and later, my confession and absolution in Christ. I did not need to do what I did, but pride seeks all kinds of vacuums and silos to fill. This is the nature of sin. " [...]

LOPEZ: "Whatever punishment was to follow that day and in the weeks to come, I deserved it completely." Did you deserve the forgiveness you seemingly received? Or is that the point of the story?

GOEGLEIN: I did not deserve the forgiveness that was extended to me by President Bush, by my family, by my White House colleagues, and by my friends. I expected a kind of decoupling to take place, and to be cut off from those I loved and worked with -- and whose friendship had been my joy and privilege.

By God's grace and mercy, the opposite happened through no merit of my own.

I chose to open my memoir at the nadir of my life, and I describe in detail my Oval Office exchange with the president. I still cannot fathom his extension of forgiveness to me. It flowed from his own faith. 

Posted by at November 26, 2011 5:37 AM

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