I would like to comment on three items on the blog. Two of these were brought to our attention by Peter Schramm. The third is Mickey Craig’s entry on Condoleezza Rice’s remarks to the National Prayer Breakfast. The connection is God and politics.
The first item is Ken Masugi’s analysis of the President’s recent State of the Union Speech. Masugi says the speech was inspired by the Declaration of Independence. I don’t see this. The speech does not mention equality, as far as I know, except when it speaks of treating investors equally in the tax laws. Bush’s focus is on freedom and, as Masugi notes, freedom as a gift of God. This marks Bush’s difference from the Declaration most clearly. The Declaration speaks of the laws of nature and of nature’s God and declares that certain truths are self evident. Because nature and a rational God is the standard that the Declaration appeals to, it can claim universality. Bush speaks of gifts and Providence, emphasizing the willfulness of God and the potentially unique character of His gifts. (I know that the idea of providence occurs in the Declaration at the end but, interestingly, this was not in Jefferson’s original draft.) Bush does say that liberty was God’s gift to humanity but how does he know this? With the President, we are not dealing with the laws of nature but with special revelation. Greg Dunn’s analysis of the State of the Union speech is more accurate than Masugi’s, I think, because it recognizes the revealed personal ground of the President’s politics and admits that this makes people nervous. This brings me to Mickey Craig’s praise of Rice’s speech. Rice may be worthy of higher office but surely not on the basis of her touching account of her personal relation to God.
I recognize that the God of the Declaration is not necessarily incompatible with the God that speaks to Bush and Rice but which God we have in mind when we think about politics and act politically makes a difference. This is especially so as we confront an implacable enemy inspired by his own special revelation.