One of the most poignant -- and instructive -- stories we have read in many years is the article in Life magazine by Lee Atwater, the Republican national chairman who lies gravely ill with inoperable brain cancer, abjectly confessing his deep shame for the political viciousness which made his name a household word in the 1988 presidential campaign. The tone of Atwater's article is captured in this paragraph:
"In 1988, fighting [Democratic presidential nominee Michael] Dukakis, I said that I 'would strip the bark off the little bastard' and 'make Willie Horton his running mate.' I am sorry for both statements: the first for its naked cruelty, the second because it makes me sound racist, which I am not."
Clearly Atwater, at the young age of 40, is trying to pay his debts for his transgressions, and only a hardhearted person would deny him the forgiveness he seeks as he prepares, in the vernacular of the region from whence he sprang, to "get right with God."