President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in the White House yesterday. Then Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration for Labor Secretary. Most days, such events would dominate today’s news.
However, the media continues to focus on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned from his position last Monday. Even the conservative Weekly Standard believes that “there will be plenty of questions and revelations about and around Flynn’s resignation over the next days, weeks, months, and likely years.”
Why? What makes his resignation such an important event?
Let’s begin with his personal story. Michael Thomas Flynn served in the United States Army from 1981 to 2014. He was highly decorated, rising to the rank of Lieutenant (three-star) General. On November 18, 2016, Gen. Flynn accepted Donald Trump’s offer to become National Security Advisor, reporting directly to the president on threats to our nation. Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice are among the twenty-four previous occupants of this position.
On January 22, 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn was being investigated by US counterintelligence agents over his recent communications with Russian officials. The Washington Post then reported that the Justice Department informed the Trump administration that Flynn misled senior administration officials regarding his communications with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US. According to the Post, Justice also warned that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. On February 13, Flynn resigned from his position after admitting that he failed to adequately inform the administration about his phone calls with Russian officials.
Democrats are calling for an investigation into connections between the Russians and the Trump administration. Republicans are focusing on press leaks that revealed wiretaps reportedly exposing Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak to the FBI. In addition, there are reports that former Obama administration officials worked for months to discredit Flynn and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran.
What makes Gen. Flynn’s resignation a larger story is the dysfunction it reveals in our political system. According to some, Flynn is either a Russian colluder or a political victim. His resignation is ammunition for each party in attacking the other party. Politics today are a zero-sum game: for me to win, you must lose. Bipartisanship is virtually obsolete. Compromise is viewed as weakness.
Of course, we must sometimes take principled stands we refuse to change. For instance, I will always believe that life is sacred from conception to natural death. However, working with those with whom we disagree is often vital to political progress and personal witness. Evangelicals must especially learn this lesson today. We are often known for what we’re against and seldom for what we’re for.
So let’s “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). But let’s also “have mercy on those who doubt” (v. 22) as we give God “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever” (v. 25).
Ronald Reagan said it well: “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”
NOTE: For more, see my latest website article, Ronald Reagan and the art of compromise.
Publication date: February 16, 2017
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