The Worst President???

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.

4 thoughts on “The Worst President???

  1. I quite honestly struggle with what our comments should be in order to be responsible in a time of war. My brother who is serving in the Middle East right now says part of the problem is we are a military at war rather than a nation at war. I have supported President Bush and will continue to do so but I have also been vocal in speaking about the things I think could have been done better. (Primarily, failure to shut down or control our open borgders.)

    I have to say though that former President Carter calling almost anyone our worst president ever is unbelievably innapropriate. We can argue about what we should or should not say in a time of war but even if this were not a time of war President Carter’s comments are at best hypocritical and at worst the sign of a man no longer in touch with reality. (Since I have read and trust the recent accounts of meetings with him on the issue of drawing Baptists together I must conclude that it is not the second of these two options.)

    It reminds me of the words of President Theodore Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    “Citizenship in a Republic,”
    Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

    In my opinion President Carter was simply not in the battle. President Bush is in the battle.

  2. Ben,

    President Carter has the audacity to call President Bush the worst president? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black…

    In 1976, I was 25 years old, married with two children. I did not vote for President Carter but I did suffer through the four years of his presidency. I remember buying a house in Hickory, NC for $40,000 in 1977. My mortgage rate was 16.5% and I was glad to get that. President Carter was a disaster in domestic policy as well as foreign policy. I remember being shocked at the covert effort to free the hostages in Iran, but our helicopters were stuck in the Iranian sand and we left like a whimpering dog. Only when President Carter was defeated in the 1980 election by President Reagan, were our hostages released.

    Those who did not live through the Carter presidency and tried to feed, clothe, and house their families, have no idea what it was like. Historians have typically judged Carter’s presidency to be the worst. I guess President Carter is hoping President Bush might knock him off the bad president throne. Not today, bucko.


  3. “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.”

    I am greatly encouraged….still praying for you in the love of Christ….

  4. Secular politics isn’t Kingdom business, as much as some people like to make it so. When local churches are turned into political action committees, some of the resources that are provided for Kingdom work are diverted to accomplish a secular political goal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Christians should be involved in the political process and vote and speak their consciences. But that needs to be done without dragging it into the church, or dragging the church into it.

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