Last night in St. Paul, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin addressed the nation on prime-time TV. Tonight, Senator John McCain will be giving his presidential nomination acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention.
And once again this morning, I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop in deep blue Boulder, sipping my favorite blend of green tea, and enjoying the view of the Flatirons. But this time, instead of just listening to great music, I've also been listening to Mark Driscoll preach about King Jesus from the book of Revelation. And once again I'm reflecting on what's going on in our country.
Truth-in-Blogging Disclosure: I haven't read any of John McCain's books. I haven't read the biography of Sarah Palin either. (Okay, I've skimmed the opening chapters online, but that's it.)
Sen. McCain's book was written with the help of his speech-writer, Mark Salter. The biography of Gov. Palin was written by Kaylene Johnson. I'm not aware of any books written or co-written by Gov. Palin. If you are, please comment.
To read my thoughts about Sen. Barack Obama, click here.
What I Like About John McCain & Sarah Palin:
1) Both have publicly professed their faith in Jesus Christ. In the recent Saddleback Civil Forum, McCain repeated his oft-told story of worshiping God through Jesus Christ one Christmas in the dirt of a Vietnamese prison yard. I have not yet found anything with Sarah Palin's full Christian testimony in it. If you have, please comment.
2) Both McCain & Palin display a strong commitment to their spouses and children. McCain said that his greatest moral failure was the failure of his first marriage (he made this confession during the Saddleback Civil Forum, see link above). I love the fact that he and Cindy have adopted children from other countries who have skin colors different than theirs. I also loved seeing the face of Trig Paxon Van Palin during last night's RNC TV coverage. Children with Down's Syndrome are as much a gift of God as any other children! I'm sad and disappointed that Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock, and I'm sad and disappointed that her pregnancy has become an issue in the national media. From all appearances so far, Palin and her husband have a strong marriage and as strong a family as many Christian families in the US.
3) I like that fact that McCain is old. Proverbs 20:29 says, "The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair." With greater age often comes greater wisdom. One thing people in this country need to do is learn to respect our elders.
4) I like "straight talk" and a loyalty to country and principle over party, as well as the populism reflected in Palin's small-town persona last night. Neither McCain nor Palin are perfect in these areas, but they do have impressive records and speak with credibility (ethos) about them.
5) McCain has pledged to run an honorable campaign. Quoting a recent Wall Street Journal article: "At a campaign rally in Cincinnati earlier this year, Mr. Salter [McCain's advisor & speech-writer, see above] intercepted Sen. McCain before he could take the podium. He whispered to his boss that the local radio host warming up the crowd had just made disparaging remarks about his Democratic rival, calling him repeatedly by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama. "You have to disavow his comments," Mr. Salter said. "Now." Sen. McCain apologized for the speaker's inflammatory remarks and promised to run an "honorable" campaign. (Hopefully, we'll see more of this type of behavior from McCain & Palin between now and November 4th. One can hope, right?)
7) John McCain wants to end the war in Iraq. Whether or not you think that his proposals to end the Iraq War are responsible, doing one's utmost to end war is good and right. And the fact is that he was one of the few in our congress who spoke against the Bush administration's management of the war. Whether the Iraq War is a just war or not, we've got a war on our hands, and what a mess we have gotten ourselves into! Such is real life our fallen world. As the two ways to live outline says, humankind has failed to rule ourselves or society or the world as God would have us rule the world under His just and good authority.
8) Both McCain & Palin have a witty sense of humor. I'll admit it; Sarah Palin had me laughing out loud quite a few times last night (especially with her joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull).
What I Don't Like About John McCain & Sarah Palin:
1) The sarcastic attitude displayed in last night's speech by Sarah Palin (and likely to be copied in some way by McCain tonight). Did Mark Salter also help Sarah Palin with her speech last night, or was all that sarcasm and mockery her own? To quote the same Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year:
"Mr. Salter and his boss [John McCain] have comparable world views, and both say they have sarcastic streaks. Sen. McCain said in an interview: "Mark writes the way I think. We have shared values and somewhat similar personalities. He's a true partner.""While shared values and similar personalities may make a good partner in campaigning, it is no excuse for speaking so sarcastically against Obama. He is now a leader of one of our major political parties and more than that, he is made in the image of God. Christians shouldn't treat other people that way, especially other Chrstians, and especially their enemies. Didn't Jesus say something about that? Obama has also served this country in many good and right ways and he loves this country too. How committed is McCain to "running an honorable campaign"? Too much sarcasm in the future just may backfire on him. I certainly don't want Sarah Palin to start behaving like Ann Coulter, but I'm afraid that is her trajectory right now.
2) Why couldn't McCain give a better answer to Rick Warren's question, "How rich is rich?", during the Saddleback Civil Forum? Obama was right in saying that McCain is out of touch if he really thinks the rich/poor threshold is someone who makes $5 million a year or more. That's not where most Americans live. Not remembering how many houses he and Cindy own didn't help him look like much of a populist either. It made him look at least as elitist as Obama. Let's face it, as U.S. Senators, they both live in a world of power and prosperity that most of us have never experienced.
3) McCain/Palin '08 won the hearts of many evangelical voters last night (at least that's the perspective I'm getting from my email inbox this morning). I'm thankful for their stands and records on what I think are the most important issues in this country: life issues and marriage issues. But why don't Republicans seize the moment and recast the vision of the compassionate conservatism that got George W. Bush into office in the first place? I heard a lot about victory in Iraq last night, but I wish I had heard more about victory in the classroom, the hospital and the grocery store too. Evangelical voters need to remember that God will hold us accountable not only for our votes related to issues of life and marriage, but also for issues of peacemaking and social justice. I'll say it again: I'm more than willing to have the range of issues that evangelicals are concerned about expand to include education, health care, affirmative action, economic opportunity and ending war.
Concluding Assessment of John McCain & Sarah Palin:
John McCain is a great man and Sarah Palin is a great woman. Now that they seem to be gaining traction with evangelical voters in the US, it's time for them to do a heart check. The Republican Party is not the "Christian Party" in this country. To quote the politician-turned-prophet, Chuck Colson,
"Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that's where our hope is in this country. And that's where our hope is in life."The City of God is not The City of Man, as Augustine wisely taught. Jesus is (should be?) the real leader and ruler over American Evangelicals. Jesus' kingdom has come and it is coming:
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33, ESV)So, who am I going to vote for, you ask? If you've come this far and don't think you have a good guess, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org