Prayers and politics (Jan. 20, 2009)

Somebody once said there are two things you should never talk about with people: politics and religion. If that’s true, brace yourselves, because — with all due respect to that anonymous orator of conversational etiquette — I’m about to discuss both in one post.

This was perhaps the most unique Inauguration Day in the history of America, and the next four years are sure to be some of the most pivotal.
This was a day of firsts.
The first African-American president now calls the White House home.
This is a long-awaited event for many across the country, and it seems fitting that Obama would occupy the Oval Office on the day after the nation celebrated its greatest Civil Rights leader.
Here in Alabama, Obama’s election bears extra historical significance.
Marchers once again journeyed across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and schoolchildren watched the inaugural ceremony from various points along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous Selma-to-Montgomery March.
The state boasts many Civil Rights landmarks — including the Rosa Parks Museum, complete with a tribute to the bus stop where the seamstress sparked the now-famous Montgomery Bus Boycott and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — and today’s events were a major step in the King’s dream of Civil Rights.
Today was, for some, great progress in the pursuit of equality.
Moreover, unity and pushing forward toward a better life was a goal of Obama’s address, and we as American citizens play a vital role in the long-term success of that goal. We must be a unified nation because, in the words of another Illinois senator-turned-president, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Though I did not vote for Barack Obama on Election Day, and still do not agree with some — or most — of his political views, he is the president, and it is my duty to support him, because that’s the way God intended it. Every one of us has a duty to do so, whether we cast our ballot in his favor or not.
That said, I am a journalism major and I have become acquainted with the media and its sly, sneaky way of getting its agenda across, be it a conservative or liberal outlet.
We call it bias or spin, and, from my point of view, this election had plenty of it- from both sides of the aisle.
The spin that made me, a staunch conservative, mad as a wet hen lasted until well after Executive One took to the skies carrying the outgoing Chief Executive to Andrews Air Force Base on his way back to Texas.
In my humble opinion, George W. Bush has gotten a bad rap from the media and the American people in general.
I know some of you do not agree with me, but consider the life-altering events of the Bush administration and try to imagine how you would have handled the hand he was dealt.
Bush faced monumental happenings such as September 11, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and a floundering, unstable economy.
I am in no way suggesting that George Bush is even close to perfect, because only Jesus has that distinction, nor should he be enshrined in the pantheon of great presidents.
I believe as the leader of the free world for the last eight years he should shoulder some of the blame, but not nearly as much as he has been encumbered with.
Katrina and the Iraq war seem to be the hot-button issues Bush detractors site as the downfall of his administration.
Hurricane Katrina was one of the greatest natural disasters the country has ever seen, and its scope of devastation was unparalleled.
While the response was criticized, and in some cases rightfully so, remember that nothing of that magnitude had occurred, at least in modern times.
Bush, as well as the rest of the country, was not prepared for the disaster, but he responded the best he knew how.
Bush was asked in a recent Larry King interview about his legacy, and his handling of those situations.
He said simply, “What’s new? When you make big decisions and tough calls, you’re going to get criticized.”
In the interview, Bush addressed the economy and the war, and also expressed his disappointment in the Washington name-calling, saying one of the lowest points of his time in office was being called a racist after the storm, which, in my opinion was undeserved and highly unnecessary.
A storm of that magnitude was something new to everyone, and despite popular opinion Bush said there were Coast Guard members plucking survivors from flooded rooftops a short time after the weather calmed enough for them to operate.
When King asked him why he thought we were better off as a country now than when he was inaugurated eight years ago, Bush relayed the fact that the American government and people are more understanding and cautious of the dangers of the times and world in which we live.
That is something we I believe we can all agree on.
One of those dangers is the ever-present threat of terrorism.
The effect September 11 had on our nation goes without saying.
That day was one whose likes we as a country had never seen, and I pray will never see again.
President Bush and the rest of our leaders refused to be intimidated, and because of their resolve, and that of thousands of uniformed men and women all over the globe, America has liberated a war-torn country from the grip of a ruthless dictator and stands willing to hand power over to a fledgling democratic society, when the time is right.
We have subdued one of the greatest terrorist organizations in the world, and deprived it of a highly-desired operating area in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Our valiant efforts have also kept terrorists out of our homeland, as there have been no more attacks on America since that fateful day.
Though his approval rating is paltry, and he was certainly not one of the nation’s greatest leaders by any stretch of the imagination, I have a feeling history will look more kindly upon the second Bush administration than we now realize, and he just might have done a bit better of a job than we now want to admit.
Thank you, President Bush, for your eight years of service, leadership and dedication to this nation.
Now, as a new day dawns and we turn our attention to a new administration, we must put our trust not only in the man who became the 44th president of the United States just 12 hours ago, but also in the One whom he is ultimately accountable to.
We must put our trust back in the God who created us and endowed us with the unalienable rights that make us Americans.
We must again trust the fate of this nation to the One who brought her from Valley Forge to today, a day many thought they would never live to see.
It is with great optimism and hope that we begin a new chapter in our country’s long and illustrious history, and it is with that same hope that I say God bless President Barack Obama and his family, and God bless the United States of America.

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