Thursday, July 19, 2007

How to Love GW?

Jesus tells us to love our enemies as well as our neighbors. I do believe that. I'm not sure whether George W. Bush is my enemy -- since he's my president I can't say he's my enemy. But he is frustrating and I think he has done considerable damage to the nation's image at home and abroad. The War in Iraq, rather than serving to keep terrorists at bay has created a whole new brigade of them.
Should he be impeached? I don't know. I think he comes close and Dick Cheney even more so. In fact I sent a letter to my Congresswoman asking her to pursue that course. But then again, would that serve any real purpose at this point, and would such a course be seen as "politics of retaliation"?
Diana Butler Bass argues against pursuing impeachment, in large part because it is an ineffective remedy and it's not "loving George W. Bush."
She writes:

Impeachment is the politics of retaliation, a tool of political violence that should be used in the most extreme of circumstances (and something that was wrongly used against President Clinton). Religious progressives should not practice tit-for-tat politics. We are supposed to be peacemakers, agents of forgiveness, and those who build bridges across human divides. Drawing from this disposition, we are called to practice reconciliation—to create restorative possibilities for trust, healing, and shalom where no such hope currently exists.

Like many Americans, I am angry. And I am not particularly in the mood to forgive an administration that has endangered the course of human history for the next century. As much as I hate to say it, I am called to love George W. Bush and I do not think impeaching him serves that end. As a Christian, and as a religious progressive, I must move beyond revenge politics to reach deeply for spiritual dispositions and practices that nurture God’s dream for shalom. And I
fear that if the religious left only becomes part of the “base,” our desire for a wiser and more just America will fail before it even begins.

Tonight I will attend a meeting of religious leaders and one of our local political leaders, who is a bit uncomfortable with too close a relationship of religion and politics -- and with the GOP as our guide it's no wonder. But is religion a private matter and if not, how does the relationship between religion and politics work?
Check out Diana's complete post at God's Politics by clicking here. You can leave comments there are start a thread here!

7 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

since he's my president I can't say he's my enemy.

Well, maybe you can't say that--but I can.

As for Diana Butler Bass's comments, I think she is talking nonsense. The reason for impeaching Bush has nothing to do with tit-for-tat and everything to do with using the constitutional processes as they were intended. (In my case, by the way, I was no fan of Clinton, didn't consider him "my" guy, so I feel no need to get even for what was done to him.)

Removing from office Presidents who lie to take their nation into war isn't "retaliation". It's called democracy. The right to remove a politician from office when they abuse that office is fundamental to the democratic process.

I've had problems with things she's written before on the subject of politics. In her book "Christianity for the Rest of Us", she made comments suggesting that she felt that people of faith should avoid being ideological. I think her conception of "progressive" is a lot different from mine. How you can be a non-ideological progressive isn't something that she has explained fully. While I do think that being partisan can be deadly to religious integrity, I think that people of faith can be independent voices of conscience. And progressive politics means speaking truth to power and resisting evil.

This idea that we should all just play nice with people in power who will do anything and everything to get their way, and whose actions have serious consequences for the fate of the nation and world, is just plain crazy talk. You don't let people in power act with impunity. That makes a mockery of democracy.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

She's wrong. Impeachment is not the politics of retaliation, but defending the rule of law and justice against an imperial presidency. Bush and Cheney have committed crimes. To refuse the constitutional remedies is not to love G.W.B., but trash the common good and the constitution.

Butler Bass seems to have a sloppy agape.

Bush is my enemy. Jesus was far more realistic. Commanding us to love our enemies starts with the admission that we HAVE enemies. I prefer Jesus' realism to Butler Bass' "politics of nice."

Richard Bass said...

Please.

George Bush is not your enemy. If he is, why stop at impeachment? Why not Civil War? Take him out! That's what we do with our enemies, right? (I thought that's what we dislike so much about Bush.)

There are processes for this stuff. Sure, impeachment is one but it will not be helpful here. First, Cheney will have to go first. Second, there isn't enough time. Third, do we really want to consume all of our political capital on an impeachment when a resounding electoral repudiation of Bush is in grasp? An election has the chance to actually take us in a different direction. An impeachment only takes us further into the current mess.

A number of people (over at Sojourners and MS here) have dismissed the notion of tit-for-tat in relation to this post, but I for one am very uncomfortable with the emerging parallels between what the left is becoming and what the right has been. Let's do better.

Diana's my wife, Bob's my friend. They are both people, I've found, who are trying to help people think deeply about the issues that face us and to help us make good choices so that "we" can be a "we" again. Of course Bush has much enhanced the "us" vs. "them" climate, but to paraphrase his line about the terrorists, don't let him win.

Mystical Seeker said...

George Bush is not your enemy.

Speak for yourself, but don't speak for me. He is my enemy.

As for suggesting that "taking out" is what we do with our enemies, that is a total non sequitur. As Michael Westmoreland-White pointed out, Jesus explained quite clearly that violence towards one's enemies is not a desirable option. That doesn't mean that you ignore the existence of enemies. Jesus understood that enemies do exist. He understood that well when he overturned the moneychangers' tables at the temple.

If we allow Presidents and Vice-Presidents to get away with whatever they want to do while they are in office, and simply wait until the next election to repudiate their actions, then we are essentially granting Presidents imperial privilege during their 4 year term. In fact, Bush essentially believes exactly that, which is why he has been invoking executive privilege, issuing signing statements, and the like. The dangers in allowing Presidents to abuse their power with impunity and with no recourse than to wait for four years are incredible. We should not be electing dictators for four year terms. When they abuse their power, the people have the right to demand removal. That's call democracy.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Wow, when I put out this post I didn't realize it would get under everyone's collar.

To say that George Bush is my enemy is pretty strong. Impeachment is there for high crimes and misdemeanors, and it is possible that GW and DC have engaged in them, but I guess I'm a pragmatist. Unless they do something (like decide to invade Iran) entering into impeachment efforts right now during a presidential primary season could get ugly and likely backfire.

As much as I dislike GW's policies and I believe he is going down a dangerous path toward imperialism, he will be gone in less than 2 years.

Michael has challenged me on my entrance into partisan politics (my backing of Obama), but I think this is where the battle must be fought. In 2008 we will likely have some choices. Both Fred Thompson and Rudy Guliani (and perhaps Mitt) seem to have similar imperialistic tendencies. Barack Obama is a stark contrast to them. So, in 2008 we can choose either to embrace a continuing of the imperialistic era or reject it with our votes.

I'll admit that part of me wants to see GW and DC thrown out of office, but the dangers of going down that route are signficant.

In the mean time we can support congressional efforts to hold the administration accountable.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Why don't I declare civil war? Because I am a Christian and therefore committed to nonviolence. But George W. Bush is my enemy which means, as a Christian, I must pray for him and love him. That doesn't mean tolerating his illegal, unconstitutional actions. Impeachment is necessary; then he should be turned over to the International Court of Justice and tried for war crimes after the U.S. courts try him for the crimes against our laws.
This isn't "revenge," or "retaliation," (like out a CIA agent because she's married to someone who exposed your lies), but upholding the bare minimum standards of legal justice.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Bob, I challenge your backing of Obama because you are a pastor. I know you wouldn't endorse him from the pulpit, which could get your congregation in trouble with the IRS, but I think it is inappropriate for pastors to formally endorse any politician or political candidate.

This doesn't stop a pastor from highlighting important issues and comparing candidate positions (if done fairly). Calling for impeachment is different. It recognizes a major legal crisis--and says we cannot wait until January 2009 to restore the rule of law, to end "extraordinary rendition," close the Gitmo Gulag, stop torture, stop domestic spying, stop signing statements and other actions which place the Executive Branch above the law (something we want to make sure no other administration of any Party attempts), to prevent attack on Iran, etc.