President Barack Obama has come under fire in recent days both from the political Left and from the Right for “flip-flopping” on campaign promises.
Among the so-called flip-flops are the following:
• Candidate Obama promised to close Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) while President Obama has kept it open.
• Candidate Obama said he would repeal the “Bush tax cuts” while President Obama has left them in place.
• Candidate Obama supported the healthcare single-payer mandate while President Obama compromised and dropped it from his healthcare proposal.
• Candidate Obama pledged to get the U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2010 but, under President Obama in 2011, the troops are still there.
I can see why the Left would criticize the President for what they perceive to be “flip-flops” and a failure to keep campaign promises, but I cannot understand why the Right is joining in the criticism as well. After all, it is one thing to view an issue from the outside and something all together different to view it from the inside.
For example, when I was an associate pastor I was pretty certain that, were I in charge, I would do things better and much differently. I couldn’t understand why the senior pastor thought, behaved, and acted the way he did.
The problem, of course, was perspective. I was in charge of a limited program in the church and he had to contend with the Big Picture — the whole church. I had no experience in leading and managing a church while he had decades of the same.
When I became a pastor, and the whole responsibility was now in my lap, it was an eye-opener. As St. Paul said, “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” Later, when staff members would criticize my decisions and actions, there were times when I had to remember that I was once where they were. I learned that lesson all over again when, in 2007, I became a bishop.
Instead of criticizing and lambasting the President, why not, my friends on the Right, give the President a break and simply assume that, now that he is no longer a Senator or a candidate, he has had a change in perspective?
When President Clinton veered toward the political center during his term, many saw this as progress and a good thing. Is it so different now?
To be sure, for conservatives — and even for many centrists — there is much about which to disagree with President Obama. But when, from the perspective of the Right, he changes his views to more agreeable positions, why not give him credit?
Personally, I am relieved that the terrorists are staying on Cuban soil, that at least some taxes have not been raised, that the government requirement for a healthcare single-payer mandate is no longer there, and that we did not beat a shameful and hasty retreat (as in the cases of Vietnam and Somalia) from yet another conflict.
For these things, I say, “Thank you, Mr. President.” That doesn’t mean that I support certain other policies but — who knows? Maybe some of these will be moderated to my liking as well.
Like it or not, vote for him or not, Barack Obama is the President of the United States and deserves our prayers, our input, and, when he gets it correct (as we see it), our support.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]