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Saturday, August 18, 2007

On President Bush

I don't normally blog about truly political matters. Generally I consider politics to be a lot of useless noise and I don't pay much attention to it. But there are some fundamentals of politics that I believe all must pay attention to. They have to do with leadership.

Those who are our elected representatives, from the city council to the federal president, are called upon to be leaders. They agree to lead, tell us they have the gift of leadership, and we agree to install them to lead our cities, counties, states and federal government.

I have always been a registered Republican, generally voting the Republican ticket in most elections, and eschewing the socialist state that I thought the Democratic party tends to drift toward. But I voted for Bill Clinton. Both times. I was disappointed in his moral failure with Monica Lewinsky, but felt that he was generally a good president and that efforts to impeach him were probably more of that political noise that I referred to before. I didn't consider those efforts to be necessary and never really thought they would succeed. I was impressed with his repentance and perhaps even more impressed with how Hillary stood by him. As a wife, she was put in a very difficult position. I admired her tenacity to work through such a calamity. ( I still do.)

When George W. Bush ran for president, I was pleased to see his faith on his sleeve. An openly Christian president seemed right for the times. So I voted for George. Both times. I also joined the prayer chain that was praying for President Bush and prayed in earnest for his leadership. I prayed that God would give him wisdom. I prayed that God would lead each of his decisions, especially the big, important ones! I prayed that George's decisions wouldn't be made with his own mind or emotions. I prayed that George's decisions wouldn't be made with Dick Cheney's mind or emotions, or even those of anyone else. I wanted George W. Bush to yield to the Holy Spirit's leading in all of his decisions.

I fully expected President Bush to listen to his trusted and highly-credentialed advisors on important matters. But then I expected him to get on his knees before his master and seek God's wisdom on each matter. Was this a reasonable expectation for a voter to have? If I were the president, would I make decisions this way?

The opinion polls and news media are happy to tell us that President George Bush's approval ratings have fallen to record lows. I don't put much credence in such things, because I know that sometimes the right decisions don't leave one with the approval of others. (I've been in that position myself!) But as a Christ-follower myself, and a brother in Christ to George Bush, I wonder if he thinks about where he is at as a leader with his country and why that might be.

I'm looking at the war in Iraq. The first thing I notice is that we waged war on a country without the consent of the U.N. That's a collaborative body that we agreed to submit to. Did God tell President Bush to do that? Did God tell President Bush to wage war on Iraq and build a so-called coalition outside of the U.N.? Does God not want us to submit to the collaborative authority of the U.N. anymore? President Bush has set a precedent with the U.S. and the U.N. I can only hope it's a precedent we as a country are comfortable living with.

I'm looking at the national debt, and noticing that it is spiraling ever higher. Today, the debt that's on the books, coupled with the debt that's considered, in accounting terms, as "off balance sheet," is somewhere in the neighborhood of $543,000 for every family in America. Could you pay off your share of that? And when you do, could you contribute toward paying off the share of others who are less fortunate than you? Is President Bush on his knees before his Lord, asking what he should do about that? It has been more than 40 years since the U.S. made any reduction in the principal on our national debt. Could that really be God's will for our country?

One cannot fly today without noticing the extraordinary security measures that President Bush's leadership has imposed on us. Mountains of government, commercial and private citizen expense are being imposed on us in the name of making our skies safer. The rules are being followed --- at the expense of reason. For example, I was traveling through London recently, and purchased some shower gel and lotion for my wife at a duty free shop as I was boarding a flight to New York. I was allowed to carry these items on board (my luggage had been checked). When I arrived in New York, I had to clear customs and claim and re-check my luggage.

Then I had to change terminals for my flight to Dallas. I had to go outside of the security zone to change terminals, and when I went to clear security again for my flight to Dallas, the shower gel and lotion were not allowed. I explained that I had just flown with those items, and they were still in the duty free bag, with the receipt. No matter. No boarding. So I returned to the ticket counter to try and check my carry-on bag. American Airlines wanted an additional $80 to check that bag. I only needed to check it because of the shower gel and lotion, which I'd paid $68 for. Mind you, if I had known I was going to have to exit security or that this could be a problem, I could have slipped these items into my checked baggage before I changed terminals. Being unwilling to pay $80 to transport $68 worth of merchandise, I was forced to forfeit the merchandise that I had just hand carried from London.

Of course I was miffed at American Airlines. My letter to them yielded a $63 travel certificate and no apology. They could have accommodated me better than they did. But they have their rules. The core issue though is the government bureaucracy that George Bush's administration extended when the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) was created. Their rules and procedures are costing us more than just the direct payroll and other expenses. They just cost me, a private citizen, $68! Do you think President Bush is aware of this? Do you think he decided to create the TSA after a solid prayer session?

So my point today is simple. I voted for George W. Bush both times. But he has not met my expectations as a leader. My primary issue? I no longer believe that he gets on his knees before his Lord to make decisions. The evidence is all around me. Our country is worse off. We are worse off. Conditions are deteriorating. People are being hurt. The tragedies of 9/11 were severe; there is no question. But what we do with tragedies is also very important. I don't believe that we have done what God would have us do. I don't believe the mess this country has gotten into under President Bush's leadership is God's will for our country.

I don't pray for President Bush's leadership any more. I don't think he's listening or yielding to God. And the God I know will allow a rebellious, stubborn individual to lead himself and his followers right into failure. So I pray that our country can somehow survive George Bush's leadership. I pray that leadership will be provided in the next election that can lead us out of this mess. Our next president has a significant amount of damage control to undertake. I pray that he (or she) will be up to the task. Moreover though, I pray that our next president will be someone who never, ever forgets to get on their knees and submit their leadership to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps one day, we can attempt to run this "one nation under God" as if it truly were under God!

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