Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scott McClellan – Another Republican Wakes Up

I’ll be gentle here.

One of my wife’s best friends, a Republican woman with a Republican husband raising Republican kids, said the most amazing thing at Easter dinner two or three years ago. We had already been visiting nicely for probably two hours, and there we are at the dinner table wrapping up the meal when she says, “It’s time for George Bush to go.”

Just like that, a little bon mot dropped with the desert on the table. It would have been wittier if it weren’t met with a disgruntled groan of “Oh honey, let’s not get into that here.” from her husband. As it was I didn’t want to rile things up too much so I smiled said something along the lines of “yes, indeed, but what makes you say that now” and learned that it was the war that had her rethink the whole Bush thing. There may have been a few more sentences but I really didn’t want to push her husband’s buttons. He and I get along OK, but it really is one of my wife’s treasured relationships and I don’t want to goof that up.

Scotty McClellan woke up from a sweet dream that turned into a nightmare. He had been lied to and passed it along as the truth. He had believed in compassionate conservatism only to learn that at the highest levels it was purely greed and self serving goals. He had supported without question a fellow Christian whom he believed in only to realize that the man was more myth than substance, more a singer for Cheney and crowd than a maestro showcasing his own abilities, more a man seeking recognition, power and all that comes with it than a servant of the people.

But it isn’t just George Bush that has those faults. We are all born with them and succumb to them sometimes. Me-ism goes back to Adam and Eve. I don't know that we ever rise above it, but we can temper it a bit through faith. For that matter Gentiles have the concept of right and wrong written on their hearts, so they have that to call on if needed.

The Republican line is tempting to anyone that has read Ayn Rand and believes in building wealth on his or her own. Tempting for anyone that has gotten lucky through hard work or good fortune and been able to actually not just buy the stuff they want but put a little aside for a rainy day or old age. Tempting for anyone that thinks they have a chance of achieving those goals on their own, due to their own abilities, because they have what it takes. Tempting for anyone who looks at their taxes and says “That’s too much, it should all be mine.”

Matthew 4:8-9
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

We have a really bad habit of wanting stuff. We worship it. Gimme more money, a bigger house, more TV’s, gold, man I need gold the real stuff sitting in a safe deposit somewhere, a bigger car – dangit I don’t care what gas costs, I’m great and can pay the price, I want that V8. I made all this on my own and I deserve it!

So tempting. So easy. So wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with making money. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said “Hating me because I’m beautiful won’t make you beautiful.” And the same could be said about being rich.

Acquiring wealth is good, smart, and right to do. Doing so in a manner that takes unnecessarily from others, forcing them to cut necessities like food and health care so they can get to work is wrong. I was surprised to learn the other day that Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, is supporting Barack Obama. I guess my GEICO payments are going to a good company.

Wealth is a gift in any case. You can get it through hard work and a bit of luck, or you can sell out, get that degree in business that could actually do some good, but then go find the next Enron to work for. Your choice. It’s all legal by man’s law.

I wonder if Scott McClellan will vote come November 4th, if he’ll do so with a clear conscience, consciously aware of whom the players are and what their real intentions are.

I hope so.

How do you measure success?

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