To those of my traditionalist, religious countrymen who have given this presidency their support I say, quoting Jesus in the Gospel According to Matthew: "By their fruits ye shall know them."
So, even if many of this leaderships words have been good, lets look at the fruits. And I dont mean the unintended fruits, like the failures of this administration that have become visible. Lets look at the fruits that have been consistent, the ones harvested even more bountifully when this administration was at the height of its powers, and thus had its freest hand, than more recently when events have weakened it.
In particular, I would ask: Is it a sign of goodness to sow division?
Here the talk was indeed good: Im a uniter, not a divider. But with regard to the fruit, is there anything more consistent in the record of this presidency than its pattern of dividing people?
This has been true both within America, and between America and the world.
As a result, it has become exceptionally difficult for Americans of different leanings to talk with each other. Across the country, innumerable friendships have broken apart because of the extraordinary polarization our present leadership has fostered.
So also has this presidency created enmity between America and the world. Till our present leaders came to power, America had been for generations more trusted than any dominant power in history. But beginning even before 9/11, and before this war of choice with Iraq, this president has been alienating our friends and making us lots of new enemies.
Is not this pattern of creating division and strife a meaningful clue to the moral nature of this leadership?
Turning people against each other --rendering the human drama into an Us against a Them-- has been the practice of destructive rulers throughout history. Such division furthers not goodness, but its opposite. For when people are focused on their conflicts, theyre unable to build a more whole world based on their common goals and their common humanity.
A leader who diverts our attention and energy into quarrelling about divisive, hot-button issues (like, for example, gay marriage), disables us from coming together to make progress on the basis of our shared values and from addressing those questions that will have the greatest impact on how good and just and healthy our society will be in the future.
In its history, America has made great achievements of a moral nature. But can one point to anything like that being achieved today?
Likewise in the wider worldthe divisive spirit throws obstacles in the way of human progress.
For two generations, America led other humane societies in creating international orderrules and structures to maintain peace, to foster the rule of law, to promote the well being of humankind. But this American leadership has systematically undercut such order.