President Jimmy Carter has lit the national news afire with his recent comments about George W. Bush’s foreign policy, labeling the current president’s record on international relations as “the worst in history.”
I lack the perspective to make such a sweeping assessment of President Bush’s administration in this regard, but I have to confess my disappointment with the current Commander-in-Chief. Whatever the case, President Carter is entitled to his opinion of Bush’s foreign policy, even though many who agree with him would question the propriety of his making his opinion public.
“Priggish,” they are calling Carter. “A doddering old fool and a quack.”
The cacophany of bloggers who see Carter’s criticism of Bush as further cause to despise his Baptist identity will surely commence. To many, criticizing George W. Bush is blasphemy. Asking serious questions about the injustice occuring under the current administration is high treason.
There are others — I for one — who are just as tired of Democratic potshotting and grandstanding over Bush’s foreign and domestic policy blunders as we are seeing Southern Baptists entangled excessively with the Republican Party. America is in a mess in Iraq. The Department of Justice is led by a man who thinks torturing detainees in Guantanamo is both acceptable and commendable.
I’m willing to say it myself: Alberto Gonzalez rivals Janet Reno as the worst Attorney General of my lifetime. I believe that George W. Bush, however, is a Christian brother trying to balance his personal religious commitments with his immense political responsibilities. Jimmy Carter is doing the same.
I’m also willing to admit that it took the tough arms race of President Reagan to end the Cold War. Peace treaties failed where military strength prevailed.
For Bush, Iraq is evil, and the only moral thing for America to do is to prevent the spread of evil by the use of force. For Carter, preemptive strikes are evil, and the only thing moral for America to do is to clip the wings of the war-hawks in Washington.
Sure, I wish Carter hadn’t said what he did about Bush….just like I wish Bush hadn’t done what he did in Iraq. Nevertheless, I believe Baptists can align themselves on either side of the political spectrum — for Bush or against him, pro-Iraq or against — and still work together in shared commitment to those things which transcend momentary political skirmishes.
And for all the ugliness of political rhetoric in modern America, it comes nowhere close to the ways that Baptists have spoken of each other in our quarter-century fight. We can all agree that these things should not be. It’s just a little hard to move that mental assent into moral action.