Character and Moral Leadership

I wish I could remember which blog (or blog combox) I read that said Mike Huckabee seems to be running for America’s pastor rather than American’s president. I don’t do lots of blog surfing, so it may be a sentiment that has been oft-repeated or picked up from an MSM expert or pundit.

Tonight as I was washing the dishes, I realised that if that’s what Mike is trying to do, then he has the right idea. What are Americans looking for in a president? They are looking for someone who is caring and comforting in time of need. They are looking for someone who can articulate a vision and inspire hope and courage. They are looking for someone who is not afraid to call evil “evil” and good “good”; someone with a fixed moral compass.

Should voters care about a candidate’s view on foreign policy? Not really. It doesn’t change much from administration to administration, because each has to deal with the exigencies of the day in a pragmatic way. Bush policy didn’t different much from Clinton policy until 9/11 and there’s nothing to say that Gore dealing with post 9/11 would have done it any different than Bush. Would Gore have been more forbearing of Saddam’s flagrant disregard for sanctions and the no-fly zones? Frankly, we don’t know who he would have had running State, Defense, and the NSA, so we don’t know which ways he would have been pulled. Had he invaded (an idea most everyone loved at the time), would he have been stuck in the same mire as the Bush administration? Probably so.

So much of the hype and focus by the MSM is based on red herrings. I would hope for more honesty in the blogosphere. From what I can see, the bloggers of the Northeast and the West Coast, as a few wannabes caught in the Red States in between, are stropping around the blogosphere, furious that a lot of Republicans don’t want gee-everyone-makes-mistakes-like-two-openly-adulterous-relationships Guiliani. They can’t for the life of them understand why Americans might not want a contest between a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion Republican and a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion Democrat.

Both sides know that these issues and others have little to do with the Presidency. It’s like Mike Huckabee’s answer about evolution. Why is somebody asking this of a candidate for president when it has nothing to do with the presidency? Those asking the questions are trying to show that Huckabee is a religious idiot – that’s what Blue Staters want to see and will see regardless of how he answers questions on evolution. No one in the Red States believes in evolution anyway, so all it does is convince them that Mike’s their man.

And for all of Bill Clinton’s “It’s the economy stupid” slogan, the Chief Executive actually doesn’t have a lot of control of that either, the OMB and the Departments of Treasury and Commerce notwithstanding. At the end of the day, it is about character.

It is not about competence. Just about every candidate running in the two main parties is competent to be president. All the Republicans want to be like Ronald Reagan and he slept through much of his second term, still managing to combine his moral leadership with that of some pastors in Eastern Europe to being down the Iron Curtain.

All the Democrats want to be like JFK, whose presidency was about fiascos and philandering. Oh, and he got himself killed. Assassination is the civil religion equivalent of martyrdom, so he’s now a saint.

No, it’s about character. It’s about moral leadership. I’m a firm believer that elections give the electorate what they deserve. If the Red States lose their focus on values, they deserve to get a valueless president.

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