Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Oops! Pardon my mania!

Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

If New Hampshire does anything for campaign enthusiasts, it ought to sober us up. I’m embarrassed to be among those who got caught up in the political inebriation. Until New Hampshire, I had calmly assured everyone who asked me my opinion on what would happen that it would be Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. Then I got swept up in the noxious fumes emitted by hysterical pollsters and pundits. For shame, for shame! I actually said aloud, it looks like Barak Obama will swamp Hillary! To add insult to self-injury, I said McCain will bury his competitors.

None of this proved true. Hillary squeaked ahead of Obama by a nose, giving each an equal number of delegates, but giving her the comeback aura exploited so well by her husband in his bid for the White House. And McCain, while scoring a comeback of his own, only bested Romney by three delegates to the convention. (Romney is currently leading in the overall delegate count.) So, the contest continues apace. In other words, it’s far from over; it’s just started. So I’m back to where I started: Hillary is her party’s likely nominee. Whoever the Republicans pick better be ready for the battle royal. If there’s anything the Clintons are not, they most definitely are not quitters.

This should be enough to give my fellow Evangelicals pause. We were threatened with our own mania, acting as if God had delivered a new Moses in Mike Huckabee, but as one seasoned Christian leader recently wrote me, “Huckabee needs to get away from homilies and add a little substance.” This contest will be fierce—fiercely fierce, whether Hillary or Barack is the Democratic nominee. The pro-life, pro-family, pro-acknowledgement of God candidate will need to be formidable, substantial, articulate, tested and presidential. And, hold your breath and don’t hate me, he will need to appeal to women! Yes, women! Women voters will be a force in this election as never before. So, he better be attractive, nice and sensitive—and have a very good track record as a husband and father.

My point is we need a principled, experienced and appealing winner for the pro-life, pro-family and pro-acknowledgment of God platform. More importantly, he will need to be a highly capable and proven executive. It’s still way too early to pick a favorite. Evangelicals need to soberly, prayerfully and diligently examine each candidate. It’s not enough that he can “preach.” We’re not hiring an evangelist to conduct a week-long revival; we’re hiring the chief executive officer for the largest, most complex and consequential enterprise in the entire world. Just in terms of numbers, the next president will manage scores of agencies with millions of employees and contractors. He (or she) will control $3 trillion in spending—that’s $3,000,000,000,000! And, need we say any more about the awesomely demanding responsibility of guarding the safety of over 300 million citizens from countless unnamed and unknown threats?

OK, we got our cup of coffee and we’re seeing clearly again. Now it’s time to settle down, get ourselves together and fully appreciate what this is about. It’s about the most serious business in the temporal world. If it takes more than a good preacher to run a church, imagine what it takes to run the United States of America. We’re not done vetting our candidate, not by a long shot. Keep watching, keep praying, keep asking and keep probing. The slate is still wide open. If ever we Evangelicals needed to pick the right one, it’s this time. We did it with Ronald Reagan and we can do it again. But remember, we need a Ronald Reagan for this assignment, not a Billy Graham.

Your grateful missionary to elected and appointed officials,

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE
Washington, DC 20002