I never thought I would see the day when the most powerful man in the world would allow himself to step into our world as much as our president has. In an ever changing story line from “I don’t know all the facts” to new rumors that he anticipated and even wanted the question, we now have the president of the United States, on government time and our tax dollars, setting up a meeting over beer with a police officer and an arrested professor. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the presidency is a cushy job where this man has nothing better to do.
Here’s my problem. One, he allowed himself to get involved on the national stage in a local level issue. Now everyone who has a conflict with the police, a principal of a school, a warden or guard in a prison, or their boss is going to want national attention. They too will want to sit down with the president and let him hash out their issues. Why not? After all, he’s got nothing better to do.
Will there be a news story on the president’s offer for all parties to sit down and have a beer? Should we add a beer tax to help pay for our medical costs? Should he even drink beer knowing the statistics on alcoholism and drunk driving in America? Is he setting a good example for our children? Hey kids, sit down over a beer and work out your peer pressure and clique issues! If you can’t work it out, email the White House and ask for a six pack.
Two, it has played into the hands of his critics and at the same time made his supporters wonder why the president would say a police department acted stupidly. Cops aren’t perfect, but I’m glad they are on the street. If I were to lock myself out of my house and try to bust down my front door or climb in through a window, I hope my neighborhood watch group would call the cops. Better for them to show up than for someone to say they didn’t want to get involved while my house is possibly robbed or my family threatened.
Three, why can’t he say, “I spoke stupidly. It was stupid for me to get involved in this. I should have left it to the local authorities. I should have waited to speak, if I was going to speak, until all the facts were in.”
Mr. President, to speak on this was stupid. Admit it. I’ve had to admit when I’ve said stupid things. I’ve had to apologize when I crossed the line in a sermon. Usually I know it the minute I do it. Often it takes a friend or fellow laborer in the gospel to point it out to me. I hope I’m teachable enough to surround myself with people who see the big picture when I fail to see it. Apparently no one in the inner circle at the White House can tell the president he needs to reconsider or apologize.
Four, he has taken to the highest level an issue that could have been solved at a lower level. People love to delegate up. I refuse to deal with issues as a pastor that can be handled by a staff member. I refuse to get involved in secondary issues between church members—all that’s ever done is to make someone, one side or the other, mad at me. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.
Five, he brought race into the issue. Race was not the issue. The person making the 911 call clearly didn’t know whether the person was black, white, Hispanic, or otherwise. When pressed they thought one of the men “might be” Hispanic, but they weren’t sure. Obviously, the police were not responding to a call assuming it was a black man breaking into a house. They were responding to a call about a possible break-in. Don’t bring race into every issue and divide the country you say you want to unite.
Maybe our president, who says he is a Christian, should read the advice of Moses’ father-in-law. Moses tried to do it all himself. His father-in-law advised him to break the decision making down to the lowest possible level. He told Moses to only deal with the big issues. “You are wearing yourself out dealing with every little petty conflict among the people. See the big picture, Moses. See your role as a leader. Function like a leader, not like a mediator of the masses.”
Maybe our president, who says he is a Christian should follow the principles of Acts 6. Remember when there was murmuring and controversy in the early church among the widows? The disciples clearly said, “We don’t have time to be involved in this squabble. It does need to be dealt with, but we need a lower level of leadership to deal with this. Let’s select deacons and let them intervene.” As for the apostles, they chose the high road, the road of strong leadership. They would not neglect prayer and the Scriptures for waiting on tables. It’s not that they were too good for it, but they recognized the need for organization and structure. The guys in Jesus’ inner circle didn’t need to be worrying about petty things in light of the big picture.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I would much rather the president spend the time he plans to spend with the beer, the professor, and the policeman doing something significant. Maybe like how to catch the terrorists. Maybe how to keep our troops encouraged. Maybe how to provide bullet proof vests for police officers who risk their lives every day answering 911 calls. Maybe getting the car companies to pay back what they took out of my taxes. Maybe he could figure out a way to stop messing up my health care coverage with a plan that is not a plan. Maybe he should read the bills before he signs them. Maybe he could spend the time with members of Congress and tell them something like, “Pass no legislation that allows you, in any way, to live at a higher level or with better health care or retirement than the average American who voted for you.” That would put a gag order on Congress for the next 20 years. Now there’s a pleasant thought.
Mr. President, act like a leader. Maybe you could learn something from some unlearned fishermen and a guy who was once banned from Egypt because he didn’t act like a leader, but acted in haste. Who knows, the Bible might help you in learning to make better decisions about when to speak and when to be silent.