Tuesday, December 13, 2011

America is Looking for Leadership

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While President Obama is asking Iran to please "give back our DRONE spy plane," citizens are trying to figure out who can actually lead this country and a recent study found that Americans don't even know who would be the most influential Christian leader in the country.

Some thoughts on the request to Iran, Barna's recent survey looking for spiritual leadership should Newt be the candidate and an open letter to Newt Gingrich from Dr. Richard Land, Executive Editor of christianpost.com and president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988.

There was not a more strident supporter of Barack Obama than MSNBC's Chris Matthews. In fact it was Matthews, a former Jimmy Carter staffer, who said on live television that he got a quiver in his leg when Obama spoke.

Apparently the quiver is gone. He is becoming more and more publicly disenchanted with the President's ability to lead. So are others among the progressive left community.

This last position taken by the President, asking Iran to give back our DRONE spy plane that they have in their possession, is one more mark of an empty suit in leadership. It's hard to find leadership in that kind of response.

If they don't return it, what will our President do? Tell Russia to make them return it? Or, what if they gut it, analyze and gather all the classified data and then publicly return it? That's a real confidence builder for America as we look for leadership.

More and more liberal progressive Democrats are looking for leadership as they become disenchanted and publicly express more dissent toward the President and his policies.

A recent Barna Study found that Americans can't even decide who the most prominent Christian leader is in our country.

Meantime the GOP looks for leadership.

Who can lead? Who can win?

Is Newt the one? Frankly, I have not made up my own mind who can best lead America. I have a short list of those whom I am certain cannot.

Russ Jones, writing for ONENEWSNOW, says, "The latest debate among GOP presidential hopefuls held in Iowa Saturday night has made it clear that Newt Gingrich is now regarded as the man to beat."

Carol Swaim, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, and most often a banner carrier for our most important social issues says, "In spite of his flaws, Gingrich has the most experience to bring to the White House" and says she thinks he would be a forceful leader.

But what about the flaws?

Infidelity. Divorces. Affairs. Does that matter? Newt says God has forgiven him. Is that enough to trust him as President?

Rick Perry says people who cheat on their spouse, will cheat on their business partners and shouldn't be trusted. Especially in the presidency.

Candidate Rick Santorum, a person whom I've had lunch with and talked with at some length in the past and believe to be the real deal in his own personal life says, "I would not say its a disqualifier; I wouldn't go that far, I think people make mistakes and you are held accountable for those mistakes...and the public will listen to the circumstances and make the decision."

Dr. Richard Land, whom I mentioned above, has some of these same questions. Last month he wrote the following candid and pointed open letter to Newt Gingrich:

Dr. Richard Land: An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich
By Dr. Richard D. Land | Executive Editor

Mr. Speaker, Well done! You have risen beyond relevancy to serious competitiveness by your grit, erudition and intelligence. You have come back from the political equivalent of Hospice care to become a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president.

You’re obviously extremely bright, knowledgeable, experienced on the issues and fully able to go toe-to-toe with the formidable campaigner President Obama has amply demonstrated that he is.

By the way, your idea of a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates between you and the president if you are the nominee is a great idea. Those debates would do much to clarify and explain the critically important decisions that Americans will be making about their and their children’s future in the 2012 election.

However (and you have known me long enough to know that the “however” was coming), you still have some significant problems with Evangelical voters. These voters are, and will be, an important factor in both the primaries and general election.

Over the past three years, I have conducted more than 200 informal focus groups with Southern Baptists across the land, in rural, urban, suburban and exurban settings. Mr. Speaker, I have good news and I have bad news.

The good news is, as you know Evangelicals are a forgiving people, who having experienced redemption and forgiveness in their own spiritual lives, are most often willing to extend it to others who ask for it. Consequently, a high percentage of Evangelical men are willing to cut you some slack over your turbulent marital history. The bad news is that Evangelical women are far less willing to forgive and let bygones be bygones. There is a large and significant gender gap on the issue of your two previous marriages. My research would indicate a majority of men, but less than a third of Evangelical women are currently willing to trust you as their president.

Even my own mother, a rock-solid Evangelical, was extremely uncomfortable voting for Sen. John McCain until he acknowledged to Rick Warren that the failure of his first marriage was the greatest regret of his life and it was his fault.

Mr. Speaker, if you want to get large numbers of Evangelicals, particularly women, to vote for you, you must address the issue of your marital past in a way that allays the fears of Evangelical women.

You must address this issue of your marital past directly and transparently and ask folks to forgive you and give you their trust and their vote.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to pick a pro-family venue and give a speech (not an interview) addressing your marital history once and for all. It should be clear that this speech will be “it” and will not be repeated, only referenced.

As you prepare that speech, you should picture in your mind a 40-something Evangelical married woman whose 40-something sister just had her heart broken by an Evangelical husband who has just filed for divorce, having previously promised in church, before God, his wife and “these assembled witnesses” to “love, honor and cherish until death us do part.”

Focus on her as if she were your only audience. You understand people vote for president differently than they do any other office. It is often more of a courtship than a job interview. I know something of your faith journey over the past 20 years. Do not hesitate to weave that into your speech to the degree that you are comfortable doing so. It will always resonate with Evangelical Christians.

You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others including your former spouses. Make it as clear as you can that you have apologized for the hurt your actions caused and that you have learned from your past misdeeds. Express your love for, and loyalty to, your wife and your commitment to your marriage. Promise your fellow Americans that if they are generous enough to trust you with the presidency, you will not let them down and that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House.

Such a speech would not convince everyone to vote for you, but it might surprise you how many Evangelicals, immersed in a spiritual tradition of confession, redemption, forgiveness and second and third chances, might.

Your fellow American,
Richard Land


And so the search for leadership continues.

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