Yesterday, Chuck Norris endorsed Newt Gingrich for president in what has to be considered at best a disappointing compromise of principle. Worse, Norris’ article carried a caveat designed to excuse the candidate’s serial-adulterous past, hint that political compromise can trump personal faithfulness, and use biblical language to lead evangelicals to accept these same compromised values:
We all have skeletons in our closet. If buried bones became unforgivable bones of contention, the world would never know or will never know another Benjamin Franklin, King David and others like them. We must remember that we’re electing a president, not a pastor or pope. And with the mainstream media and a billion-dollar Obama campaign coffer on the president’s side, we need a veteran of political war who has already fought Goliath, because he will be facing Goliath’s bigger brother.
I expect better from Chuck Norris, and indeed, Chuck Norris has been better in the past. In fact, he has been so much better that this sell-out on Gingrich is a virtual Chuck Norris-patented roundhouse kick to his own head compared to how he treated a previous presidential hopeful from the other party last cycle.
In 2008, Norris ran an article “An Affair to Remember,” in which he lamented the lack of public concern over John Edwards’ exposed and admitted adulterous affair: “Do we care? Do we think it matters? Do we believe that there should be any code of conduct or moral standard for those in public office, even if it is the highest one in the land?”
While he gave a sentence or two on repentance and restoration, Norris spent the entire rest of that article trumpeting the need for high moral character and marital fidelity in public officials:
I believe leadership should be above reproach. I believe those who govern should lead also in civility and decency and that their character should be congruent with their call to office. Like parents to children, a nation’s politicians’ integrity and character should supersede its citizens. But as long as we the people tolerate leadership immorality and elect corrupt politicians, we cannot expect the heart and character of our nation to improve.
It fascinates me that American naturalization law incorporates “good moral character” as a prerequisite for citizenship but no such legal standard is expected of those who govern our citizens. In a post-Clinton era, government trysts seem to be the rule more than the exception. Immorality is not only tolerated but also expected among public servants now. Have we at last severed or totally compartmentalized their personal and political lives so that never the twine should meet?
Norris even went so far as to say those who commit such acts in office should be removed:
Enduring public humiliation is not the only price a political leader should pay for improprieties; I think they should be disciplined and suspended, if not disposed from public service. The consequence of corruption also should be increased restrictions, if not a banning from certain areas of future public service.
The conclusion is clear: “If one cannot properly handle his private affairs, can we truly expect him to handle political ones?”
And these types of rules and solutions at this level of public representation should not be altered by repentance and forgiveness: “As Christians, we should be abundant in forgiveness; but as Americans too, we should be diligent in protecting political trusts from those who do or might abuse them.”
“An affair to remember” eh? Do you remember it now Chuck?
No. Norris is now 180 degrees from his former righteous self. Now he downplays all that moral-character-integrity-decency stuff and appeals to raw pragmatism.
“Have we at last severed or totally compartmentalized their personal and political lives so that never the twine should meet?” he asked in 2008. Well, let him tell us:
“[W]e’re electing a president, not a pastor or pope. . . . [W]e need a veteran of political war. . . .”
And the King David argument—which purported conservative Dennis Prager also wields—falls flat. David was not elected, the people had no choice in his rule. Not to mention, the kingship was God’s judgment on the people to begin with, from 1 Samuel 8. A God did not allow David to get away with adultery—God took David’s son as a punishment, remember. Further, in that same act, David was a conspirator and accessory to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah. Shall we now welcome convicted murders into the Presidency, even if they have “repented”? Further, David’s son Solomon committed worse sexual deviance on a scale of thousands of women. Shall we now admit serial-fornicators and large-scale polygamists into the Office as well?
No, this is not evidence that these men “deserved” the office—as Prager says—but rather is evidence of the type of questionable character that sees itself as deserving to rule and which repeatedly falls into the corruption that comes with such power. Indeed, this is a good argument for reducing the size and power of government and its offices, and strictly vetting those who get there, not for endorsing a widely-reported pervert and known serial adulterer for the highest office of the land.
Worse yet, Norris seem oblivious to the very criteria he laid out for his own decision. Those criteria include, ”Who is most committed to follow and lead by the U.S. Constitution?”
Yeah, I can’t think of anybody in the GOP primary more dedicated to the Constitution than Newt. Nobody. Not one. Not even “Mr. Constitution,” Ron Paul, for example.
Even if there weren’t another, Newt has described his commitment to the U.S. Constitution in these terms: “I’m frankly a Realpolitik Wilsonian.” And it was Wilson, remember, who advanced most strongly in the last century the idea of a “living Constitution” (read: wax nose). Wilson wrote,
All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.
Newt has also said multiple times his favorite president and “political leader” is the New Deal’s own FDR, because “he actually got things done.” Yeah, lots of “things,” despite the Constitution.
So much for that criteria. That alone should have left Gingrich off Norris’ short list.
Then we have, “Who is the most fiscally prudent?”
Who? The guy who took millions of dollars of taxpayer money for advising Fannie and Freddie while they failed? Prudent, for his own wallet, maybe.
And then the biggest joke of them all, “Who has clear and present moral fortitude?”
Perhaps we could have predicted such a choice from a mainstream writer, but it really is baffling coming from a conservative Evangelical Christian voice with such a stalwart, uncompromising image. Unless there’s some other motive beneath the surface Norris isn’t revealing here, this choice is as disturbing as it is baffling. It is especially so as Norris concludes with statements like this:
I’m tired of watching our country being torn to shreds by those who think the answer is more government debt and control. I’m tired of being in bondage to a tax system that robs U.S. citizens like the king of England did before the Revolution.
Norris should well know none of this will change under Newt, or Santorum or Romney for that matter. As Norris himself has said, there’s ONE GUY he would “trust”—because “he’s honest”—to help clean up the corruption in Washington. Norris says it clearly right here: that man is Ron Paul. Why he didn’t stick with this conviction of moral character and fortitude is baffling.
If Norris does not reverse his roundhouse of himself, he will certainly be kicking himself again for the next four years.
PS — Unlike Mike Huckabee in 2008, I am not afraid to disagree with Mr. Norris. Huckabee said Norris could “put this foot on that side of my face and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Sorry, Huck. That was Tom Laughlin, not Chuck Norris.