We have a slogan in this country: “no man is above the law.” The slogan is only intermittently true. Case in point: Timothy Geithner was confirmed by the Senate despite demonstrable evidence that he committed tax evasion. Just what you want in a Secretary of the Treasury.
Not only did he lie about his crimes, but supportive senators lied about his lies. Two of a kind.
We might ask why, or even whether, it matters if high officials break the law. There is, of course, the odious spectacle of officials who break the laws they enforce on the rest of us.
But there’s a deeper issue at stake. A basic function of the law is to protect the weak from the strong. The less powerful from the more powerful.
Left to their own devices, powerful men and women will use their power to crush anyone who gets in their way. David’s affair with Bathsheba, and subsequent cover-up, is a classic example. David was acting like an oriental despot, and had he been an oriental despot, he would have gotten away with his crime. What he did was standard operating procedure among monarchs at that time and place.
David, however, was a constitutional monarch rather than an absolute monarch. Israel was a theocracy. Even kings were subjects. Divine subjects. They, too, were under the law of God.
In that respect, the law functions as a social and moral leveler. It brings everyone down to the same level of accountability for their actions. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. But in a land with a passive, ignorant electorate, many officials flout the law with impunity.
BTW, there’s an obvious difference between God’s law and man’s law. Some laws are bad laws. Some laws are good laws under ordinary circumstances, but unsuited to extraordinary circumstances.
I’m dealing with situations in which officials break the law for no good reason. Mere self-aggrandizement. And are rewarded for their crimes.