I thought I had seen almost every possible poll imaginable until AP-AOL News issued its leading "good guys/bad guys" poll today. President Bush tops both polls. People either think he is worse than Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden or they think he is the best guy of the year. (His numbers for best guy were much lower than for worst!) In fact, President Bush won the villain poll by a huge landslide, with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein very far behind him.
Regardless of your political views, and regardless of whether you like or do not like George W. Bush, you have to admit that this kind of response reveals far more about our culture than about the president. Bush may offend you, with his confident and brash Texas style, and he may be wrong about a lot of important issues as well. There is clearly room to disapprove of Bush’s handling of the job. The ratings say most Americans do disapprove. But to compare Bush with Saddam and Osama as the "bad guy of the year" is beyond sanity. I have to say that I do sincerely fear for a people, a country and a culture that picks President Bush as the worst villain in 2006. We seem to have lost all reasonable ability to disagree without demonizing those that we disagree with. There are many reasons for this, and the media is clearly a major one, but in the end this kind of hatred reveals how shallow and stupid many Americans really are at the end of the day. Our culture is crumbling and the evidence for this conclusion abounds.
Look, I did not think too highly of President Clinton but I would never would have voted for him as the biggest villain of the year, ever. And I think Jimmy Carter has become an unmitigated public diasaster (politically) in recent years. But I still respect him as a former president even though I strongly dislike his public stance on almost everything that he speaks about politically. The partisanship in our land has become so severe that I wonder if we will ever find a leader we can respect in the foreseeable future. Given the names that are likely to run for the presidency in 2008 there seems right now to be little hope for some kind of public respect, and good will, being restored to the office of president. This all reflects more on us than on the men (or women perhaps in the future) who have held, or will hold this office. Our culture is sick and it would serve Christians well to contribute to healing it rather than by adding more poison to it.