Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Character of the Presidents

On my drive home to Scottsville I finished up a four cassette series on the character of Presidents Reagan, Johnson, Carter and Nixon.  Each of the lectures was presented by a person with a favorable view of the particular president (usually a staff member or political wonk); but even so I found the series to be mostly fair.  I felt like I got to know the presidents as people instead of the cardboard cutouts they are often made to be.

I especially appreciated one of the anecdotes about President Reagan.  As he was wheeled into surgery after John Hinckly, Jr. attempted to assassinate him, President Reagan said to his wife "Honey, I forgot to duck"--which was a kind of subtle grace in the midst of chaos.  And as the surgeon put an oxygen mask on his face, President Reagan removed it to smile and say "I hope you are all Republicans."

I mean...that's funny. 

The surgeon, who is reported to have been a liberal Democrat, said "Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans"--another subtle grace in the midst of chaos. 

Grace in the midst of chaos is a gift.  These men who have served as our presidents spend many a day in chaos, and I got to thinking we could be better givers of grace to them.  Of course they make mistakes and it is more than fine to vigorously disagree with any of them; however I hope we remember they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  I really hope we remember that.

Whether it is President Carter or Nixon, Johnson or Reagan, Obama or Bush--I hope we make room for a little grace.

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