So the inauguration was only a few hours old and Lincoln’s bible was still warm from Obama’s touch, when I received this email in my inbox. It’s the same stale issues in the same strident tone: abortion, gays in the military, same-sex marriage, activist judges, eroding values. Don’t get me wrong. These are all important issues worthy of discussion. But for Focus on the Family, they are also hot-buttons, guaranteed to provoke a response from the faithful.
Obama delivered a stirring speech. He called for Americans to put aside “petty grievances” and work together to solve huge, intractable problems. He called for sacrifice and hard work and unity of purpose. It’s hard to imagine better values for building a nation or a family. Of course, none of that matters because he favors the right to abortion, rights for gays, and is relentlessly liberal.
I admit I’m skeptical. I didn’t vote for Obama. It’s possible his smooth talk and high-sounding phrases will be nothing more. It’s possible he’s just another politician who knows how to work the crowd. I think, at least for the time being, Obama means what he says. I think that’s a hopeful sign, even though he is a liberal Democrat.
I’ve never seen so many people get so excited about anything before. The spirit was infectious. I very nearly got excited myself.
So why the blues? Because the Christian right is so predicatably Christian and so predictably right.
To my dear Christian friends and family, devastated by the results of yesterday’s elections, I offer these words of comfort from Psalm 46:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
No matter how cataclysmic or catastrophic events seem, we will not fear because God is our ever-present help. So let’s continue to pray and work and hope for the best. President-elect Obama is also in the hand of the Lord.
Sometimes it’s good to remember how fleeting popularity is. President Bush’s popularity is the lowest of any President since Richard Nixon was forced from office by scandal. Yet for a few months following September 11, 2001, he was golden. The man hasn’t changed, but our perception of him has. Once he rose to the occasion, calmed our fears, took charge, and made us feel that everything was going to be all right. We would find the terrorists and make them pay. We would not be cowed by Muslim fanatics. We would fight. We would win.
Now Bush is the man who got us into a needless war. He’s the man who allowed the economy to collapse. He’s the man who has not found the terrorists and has not made them pay.
Abraham Lincoln once observed that the real test of character is not adversity but power. For power exposes your insecurities. President Bush was not secure enough to welcome difference of opinion among his advisers. He has surrounded himself with those who tell him what he wants to hear and pushed away those who would tell him the truth. He has leaned too heavily on his Vice President in areas where he lacked experience. These failings, which seem too small to earn him such scorn and derision as the media and much of the public have heaped upon him, were too great for him to overcome. When he leaves office, he will likely leave as one of the country’s all-time least popular Presidents. But time will probably be kind to him again.
Meanwhile here is a picture of him from two years ago on Halloween. He was visiting Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The little girl getting a presidential hug may have a very different perception of Bush than his current popularity would suggest.