Alrighty now! It’s time for the second installment in the President Bush Under Examination series — who cares if it’s just little ‘ol me “examining” him, and maybe three or so people (by the way, I love you, Mom and Dad) reading this? It’s a free country…so examining I will go!
My friend, the one who was very upset by my statement that I think our President is a good guy, had this to say (you can read the original post, the rest of her comment, and her sister’s thoughts too, here):
“He’s a moral man? He leaves his interns untouched? Are you kidding me?? Now I don’t agree with Clinton having an affair but really, what does that have anything to do with being a president? Now you’re making it sound like you think Clinton is immoral JUST because he had an affair… that that’s basically how one is judged on BEING moral. Yes, true, bush hasn’t had, or hasn’t been caught at least, having an affair… but how is HE a moral man??? Who cares if he totally and completely LIES to the American people, wiretaps American homes, cuts our civil rights, ignores the Constitution, sends innocent men and women into harms way for his own family greed, FLIPS OFF television cameras… as long as he doesn’t have an affair, that’s what really matters. unbelievable.”
I don’t know George W. Bush personally. I can only know of him what I have seen of him on T.V., what I have read of him in books, what I have read that he has written (speeches, articles, etc.), what those who know him best say about him. With as much insight as I can humanly have, I think President Bush has had a real transforming experience with the God of Grace. You can read about other reasons why I like Mr. President, in this post, or these comments.
But is George w. Bush a moral man simply because he has never had a sexual affair? What does our sexual integrity say about our status as moral individuals? In many ways it says a lot, and yet in many ways it says not much at all.
The original challenge I set out to answer (you can read Eireann’s comment for me here) was “Name one thing President Bush has done that is truly in line with Jesus’ teachings.” One of my answers was that he “leaves his interns untouched.” This marital fidelity is very in line with Jesus’ teachings and is even a requirement for leadership in a New Testament Church. It is a bit of integrity that I deeply respect about our president.
That said, any of us with sexual issues would be in good company with many great men throughout history: King David, Solomon, Martin Luther King Jr., many more. All of these men were in love with God, and yet struggled with sexual sins. I like what Phillip Yancey said, “We are all in trouble if a flawed messenger invalidates the message.”
Truth be told, it is not just Bill Clinton’s checkered past that makes me not so terribly fond of him — it is his message. To re-word Phillip Yancey’s thought, if the message already stinks, the messenger can only work to make it more palatable or easier to turn away from. What is Clinton’s message? Well, how do you think he fares on the Catholic Voter’s Guide’s question of the 5 Non-Negotiables: Abortion? Euthanasia? Human cloning? Embryonic stem cell research? Homosexual marriage? Of course, Clinton has other issues that he would say are at the heart of his message. But, because of what is important to me, as a woman of faith, these 5 Non-Negotiables represent the most important part of a politician’s moral code(actually, for me personally, I would have 4 Non-Negotiables, I think: an anti-Abortion stance, an anti-Euthanasia stance, and a belief in the validity of monogamous heterosexual marriage, and a desire to protect the freedoms our country has fought for in the past). The economic policies, social politics, how to deal with unemployment and immigration, how to deal with social security, education, ad infinitum ad nauseum (although very important issues) are negotiable. A politician’s morality, for me, is strongly rooted in his ideas on these non-negotiables.
I do think George W. Bush has flaws. I think all of us have flaws. I don’t think his flaws invalidate his message.
Back to my friend’s concerns about President Bush. Is Bush characterized by the following actions, and if so, do they make him an immoral man?
Lies to the American people. Well, politicians are like the proverbial used car salesman and I don’t see George W. Bush as above this description. However, I think my friend was referring to Bush “lying” about Weapons of Mass Destruction being in Iraq (correct me if you were thinking of something else)? Everybody and his mother thought Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (except my dad). For example, Bill Clinton, in February 1998, said, “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. We want to seriously reduce his capacity to threaten his neighbors.” Or how about Sandy Berger, former Clinton Security Counsel, who said (also back in 1998), “The lesson of the 20th century is, and we’ve learned through harsh experience, the only answer to aggression and outlaw behavior is firmness…He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983.” How about the letter to George W. Bush, signed by Joe Liberman and plenty of others, which states, “There is no doubt that … Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.” Read more examples here.
Wiretaps American homes. Hmmm. This is a tough one for me. There are LOTS of good points on both sides of the argument — for and against the wiretapping. In fact, I know very MORAL (not to mention highly intelligent) people, whom I respect deeply, who are on both sides of this political fence. I don’t see how holding either position would make someone immoral, and I don’t think this action serves to make George W. an immoral man.
Cuts our Civil Rights. I guess I need an explanation on this one. What civil rights has he cut? My right to kill my child?
Ignores the Constitution. Although ignoring our constitution sounds like a very stupid thing to do, I wonder if it would make someone immoral. I need specifics on how the President has done this so I can think this through.
Sends innocent men and women into harm’s way for his own family’s greed. George W. Bush sent us to war to protect our country and to rescue people in harm’s way. You can read my thoughts on the war in Iraq and George W.’s motivation for going to war here and here.
Flips off television cameras. You’ve got to be kidding me that flipping someone off is considered immoral along the lines of having an extra marital affair. I’m still laughing (and flipping off the computer screen — oh, just kidding. Great, now I’ve lied too! Any chance of my going down in history as a moral woman has just been flushed down the toilet!) Seriously…flipping off television cameras — an immoral act?
Yep, I think George W. is a decent man. Again, he is not Jesus. He is not Billy Graham. I wouldn’t want to marry him, I wouldn’t want him as my pastor, I don’t want to be like him when I grow up. I’m not even a Republican (but I may become one if the Crunchy Cons can take over) But do I think he is a moral man? Yes, I do.
For more of my attempts to address a friend’s issues with President Bush:
I. Whether or not George W. Bush should be considered Pro-Life (try here as well)