Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Presidential Peace

I just now heard Gerald Ford died yesterday. That made me a little sad - probably because he was the first President I really remember from my childhood.

I have a memory from 1976 of getting into a fight with some kid at the Day Care Center because he was pro-Jimmy Carter and I was pro-Ford. At the age of nine, we weren't exactly students of the intracacies of presidential qualifications. The true source of the conflict was that his dad was going to vote for Carter, and mine was casting his ballot for Ford.

I'm nowhere near as passionate about politics as I was then - quite the opposite. Frankly, I can stand neither liberal fault-finding nor conservative conspiracy-theorizing. I hate politics in their entirety - both because they are so ludicrous, and yet are so necessary.

But the one thing that really bothers me is that ever since Nixon's fiasco of criminal activity in Watergate, the press has viewed the office of the President with disdain. In the last few decades, it's been open season on the man in the White House. (Insert Dick Cheney joke here if you must.) Yes, being in the public eye makes you fair game. But poachers who will kill at any cost are a danger to any society.

I remember that one misstep on the steps of Air Force One turned Gerald Ford into being portrayed as a klutz. He was lampooned on Saturday Night Live to the giggles of millions, but the press began broadcasting every one of his golf and tennis gaffes.

Not one of us could live up to the scrutiny of being on camera 24 hours a day. Never mind that Ford was a college football All-Star. He was a clumsy oaf because the press said so.

Today, George W. Bush is portrayed as a brainless chimp. I've never been behind the scenes as he discusses the war in Iraq with his cabinet members and advisors, so I can't explain all of his decision-making rationale. And I've never personally met the man, so I can't speak to his character.

But I CAN say this: You don't get to the most powerful office in the world by being an idiot. Whether he is a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal, the President of the United States of America will always have my respect because of the office he holds, the responsibility he bears, and the authority with which he has been entrusted. I may not always like him, I will rarely agree with him, but I will always respect him.

My encouragement is: Debate the issues, stand up for your rights and beliefs, operate within the boundaries of the laws of our nation. But do it without using childish and uninformed insults like "idiot." We'll all be better off. As the apostle Peter said, "Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king." (1Pet. 2:17)

And to Gerald Ford, I say, "Rest in peace, Mr. President."