Images Michael Barone is one of my top five favorite writers on politics and American culture. He is sensibly conservative without being on the fringe. He is willing to see the good in those he disagrees with but he doesn't throw out his mind in the process. This is what made his recent article "Dodge Facts, Skip Details, Govern Chicago Style" so engaging. I urge you to read it.

Michael Barone makes three telling criticisms of President Obama. In the process he significantly corrects my expression of good will about the president's approach to international tensions that I posted late last week. He refers to the president's policy toward Iran as "propitiating" our avowed enemies. I like that term better than some of the other criticisms I have read. I also think that after my piece appeared a great deal of new information suggests that Obama's "coolness" is potentially miscalculated. Barone writes that the president's "friendly words" are based on an assumption that the hearts of Kim Jon Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejab can be melted and then shaped for a new day of peace. Barone rightly questions the very argument I tried to make last week and reminds me of how much I want to see the perspective of this president in a good light but how often I am growing disappointed day-by-day. Barone makes my case far better than I can.

This all demonstrates why I do not wade into politics too often. I try to read and form my own opinions but when all is said and done I am not an expert, just an educated citizen with profound interest in the well-being of my nation and peace in the world. I guess what I find unattractive about so many conservative arguments is the way they are made and the failure to deal with modern issues in the light of true conservativism. Sometimes the arguments certain conservatives make are excellent but the manner in which they are advanced is too rhetorical and polarizing. My interests are far more in the advance of Christ's missional Kingdom and the making of disciples than in the advance of American values. One thing I am sure about—the two are simply not the same.

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  1. Derek Taylor June 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Michael Barone once described American being divided by two distinct philosophies – those who believe in “soft truths” and those who believe in “hard truths”.
    Most people who believe in hard truth didn’t start out that way. I think this is why many Christians (self included) usually find themselves on the conservative side of the equation.
    At one time, we “hard truthers” had an unrealistic and idealistic view of ourselves. But as they say, facts are hard things.
    When we can embrace the truth about ourselves and the depraved condition of humanity, we have experienced great freedom in embracing a wiser, more accurate view of ourselves and our limitations. Hopefully, this epiphany also leads us to an even greater truth. That is, we do not have to become pessimists – but we do need to transfer our misplaced hopes, confidence and optimism in Christ and Christ alone.

  2. Rick Russo June 28, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I tend to agree with you about Michael Barone. I was curious as to the other four writers on politics you trust and enjoy reading.

  3. John Paul Todd June 29, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Excellent point, Derek. The larger all-embracing liberty that goes beyond our own culturally bound and nationally formed bias is truly to be preferred, especially in these days in the American churches.
    It seems to me that John is seeking the wiser position as to commenting on the latest politically loaded statement. We can and must speak into this environment of ours but with a whole different and ‘supra-cultural’ message of Biblical faith.
    I find it very dangerous indeed to join those who have such a pessimistic and suspicious take on every word and action of our President so early in his administration and in the midst of so many critical and demanding problems that we are confronted with. We have to ask ourselves a question: Is our role as the light of the world really about this kind of scrutiny/passing judgement on our secular society? or is it first and foremost about announcing “good tidings of great JOY”!

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