One of the most disturbing meta issues about the upcoming election is the role of faith in President Bush’s administration. I’ve been reading for a while how policy was left to dogmatic truths and maxims instead of pragmatic reality. There are definite pragmatic advantages to this type of decision making. The first is that gives a very consistent record. The second is that it resonates with ideologues and the evangelical. The weakness is in the results. An inability to adapt to new situations and a general inability to admit mistakes and fault. So far all of this fits the administration to a T. I have spent the last couple months looking for signs and hints from the president that it isn’t true, that it is just a categorization made by his opponents. After the third debate, there was no hope left. The only sign in the campaign was a point where Bush said that you can’t truly defeat terrorism. I was overjoyed at the comment, but instead of sticking to his guns and explaining the reality of the statement, it was quickly dismissed and never saw the light of day again. The only hope left is, that as a friend claims, Bush is terrified of saying anything like that because it will get used against him.
Both of the possibilities are frightening. Either Bush is afraid to state the reality of the situation to the American people, or he can’t get passed blind faith to deal with the reality of the situation. Neither allows him to act in the best interest of the country and neither possibility allows me to trust him. The president’s entire campaign message of optimism and steadfastness just becomes an inability to see the truth and an inability to be flexible or agile. These are fatal flaws in someone running America. With the recent change of plans of the company with Longhorn, I was given a stark contrast between Microsoft’s leadership and Bush’s leadership. Microsoft was open and honest about the need to change course to meet our objectives, and after getting over the let down, I see how the new plan is a better plan in the long term.
Ron Suskind recently wrote an article about the nature of faith in the administration, drawing it as “a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.”
That very issue is what Jim Wallis wishes he could sit and talk about with George W. Bush. That’s impossible now, he says. He is no longer invited to the White House.
”Faith can cut in so many ways,” he said. ”If you’re penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it’s designed to certify our righteousness — that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There’s no reflection.
”Where people often get lost is on this very point,” he said after a moment of thought. ”Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not — not ever — to the thing we as humans so very much want.”
And what is that?