A (tepid and highly qualified) defense of President Bush

I am a garden-variety lefty on many political issues, but I am not so sure that I agree with what former secretary of state Madeline Albright is saying in this Reuters story from CNN’s Web site.

Here’s Albright: “I worked for two presidents who were men of faith, and they did not make their religious views part of American policy…”

Well, she knows these guys and I don’t, but I find it very difficult to believe that if they were people of strong faith (and even his most ardent critics would concede this about Carter) that this faith didn’t inform their religious views. If you have real faith, it can’t be compartmentalized. It isn’t part of your worldview. It is the font of your worldview.

Albright again: “President Bush’s certitude about what he believes in, and the division between good and evil, is, I think, different. The absolute truth is what makes Bush so worrying to some of us.”

I’d agree the Bush is disastrously stubborn; he’s fact-resistant. That said, there are things about which faith bestows certain convictions. The real struggle is in deciding which of your convictions arise from your faith, and which arise from self-interest or personal preference and then get classified as matters of faith so as to make them non-negotiable.

Albright seems to be saying that Bush’s religious views make him rigid, which I take as a knock on religion. Don’t believe in Jesus too hard boys and girls or you’ll become rigid. I’d say that in Bush’s case, the need for what I guess you could call a rigid creed (although, if you were being charitable you could call a firm creed) preceded the embrace of a particular strain of Christianity. But the same can be said about anybody who believes anything.

In embracing the Christian faith, we don’t escape our own subjectivity. But we do hope to temper it through membership in a community that holds us accountable to a vision that is larger than our own.

I am no fan of the President’s policies. And I think he has granted influence to people with theocratic tendencies. But I think he has done so for political reasons–They are his base.–not religious ones. I wish people would refrain from criticizing his faith. It isn’t fair to him, and it isn’t fair to God–who doesn’t deserve the wrap for what is happening in Iraq.

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