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Every four years—or what increasingly is every two years, fast moving toward every year—candidates vying for the office of President of the United States proclaim their religious affiliations and affirmations to the voting public. It’s a US phenomenon and not a bad one, really.

A would-be-President’s religious convictions are interesting to know. As free-society voters we probably ought to know what a candidate believes about religious matters because in some way, small or large, these beliefs help define his or her character, personality, and possibly approach to leadership.

Then again, if history is any guide, we might be forgiven for asking whether a duly elected President’s religious views mean much to everyday governance.

Let’s take a look:



© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2014

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at


During the 2008 presidential campaign then Senator Barack Obama’s website “won” the beauty pageant with other candidate’s websites hands-down.

And it wasn’t just “beauty” in the sense of a good style and look. It was a fantastic landing page that brought you immediately into a backstage video one on one with the candidate. Then you heard him announced, got a glimpse of the raving crowd, and “followed” him up the stairs to the podium. You were there. You experienced the excitement. How could you not get enthused and vote for this candidate?

President Obama’s 2008 campaign also set new standards in using the Internet to raise funds and get out the word. In 2012, the current crop of Republican Party presidential candidates is pushing the Internet’s political envelope again.

Clearly, one way to get to know presidential candidates is to visit their websites. Obvious enough.

But you learn more than what the candidate thinks about given issues. You learn something about either their creativity/vision or perhaps the creativity/vision of their webmasters. Of course some of this is a function of available resources. But whatever the source, presidential candidate websites are a lot alike yet can vary dramatically.

Of 7 Republican candidates (counting Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman who’ve now dropped from the race) and President Obama, 5 websites used Landing Pages, 6 offered a Store where campaign items can be purchased, and 3 presented some kind of blog.

Most Interesting:

--Ron Paul’s site features a large inset box in which a counter works continuously before your eyes tallying gifts to his campaign. In addition, donors’ names and residences are listed as in Rex Rogers, Grand Rapids, MI. Both the dollar total and the names change rapidly. Eye-catching.

--Another Ron Paul distinction: his site includes a fairly lengthy Statement of Faith, like one might find on a preacher’s, author’s, or Christian college president’s website.

--President Obama’s site not only asks for volunteers to host events, the site lists numerous examples of the kinds of events a Vol can sponsor. Good seed-sowing. And, like 2008, the site is classy and well organized.

--Mitt Romney’s site uses a landing page, features more space as opposed to overwhelming text which makes the site more visually appealing, and creatively uses icons.

Most Uninteresting:

--Rick Perry’s site, Rick Santorum's website, and Jon Huntsman's site are for me least attractive. Rather basic and not visually exciting.

--Newt Gingrich’s website is text-heavy…which is to say, wordy. Surprised? So is the candidate.

Most Self-Promotion:

All candidates promote themselves, of course, but some candidates promote more than their political experience. Some promote their books.

--Michele Bachmann’s now suspended campaign website is basically selling her book.

--Newt Gingrich’s site features his wife in a section called “Callista’s Canvas.” Actually, Newt has a couple of sites marketing both his campaign and also his books and their company called Gingrich Productions. 

Most Kids:

--One interesting thing about this bunch of Republican presidential wannabes is the number of children the candidates have:

Michele Bachmann, 5 along with 23 foster kids;

Rick Santorum, 7;

Jon Huntsman, 7 including 2 adopted;

Mitt Romney, 5;

Ron Paul, 5;

Newt Gingrich 2;

Rick Perry, 2.

That’s a lot of kids. The Obamas have 2 girls.

Candidate videos telling their personal stories range, at least the ones I identified, from about 1:00 minute to well over 5:00 minutes.

So, when it’s said and done I give the website creativity prize to Ron Paul. Stands to reason, I guess. He is the maverick in this campaign.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

If you listen to most conservatives you’d come to the conclusion that government can do no right, and that it’s a generally bad thing or at best a necessary evil in life. I’ve probably sounded a similar note at times. But when we do we betray an unrealistic if idealistic view.

Conservatives would do well to remember that government was ordained of God in the first place. If it’s a “necessary evil,” than it is so because real evil exists in the world and government is there, or is supposed to be, as a means for limiting the extent or impact of evil, thus protecting the collective good. And government defends and when required exercises coercive force in criminal justice (law and order) or international relations, including war. This is government’s negative function—drawing lines when it must to assure certain things don’t happen.

Government is also a positive invention. It’s not just a divinely ordained institution to stand in the gap between good and evil but is also a means of promoting the general wellbeing. At its best, government maintains an environment where all may experience liberty and justice, and government is a means by which people may work together for the common weal.

The Founders recognized government’s potential for limiting wrongdoing and providing an environment in which freedom may be freely exercised. They also recognized government’s potential for advancing the good, what later was called positive or progressive government.

In the Preamble of the US Constitution it says: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 The debate today turns on how government should “insure domestic tranquility” or “promote the general welfare.” Conservatives argue government should establish law and order internally, protect borders externally, and pretty much let it go at that. Liberals tend to argue in favor of activist government—a “do something” government to “make things happen.” I’m somewhere in between.

Last December the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, sponsored by Representative Anna Eshoo (D, CA), was signed into law. The law goes into effect a year from now, but in the meantime it’s already making a positive impact. It sets limits on how loud (decibels) television commercials can be relative to the programs underwritten. In a quite useful way the law deals with a problem that affects the general public—ridiculously ever-louder advertisements. It’s a problem businesses would not likely have resolved on their own. Actually, businesses created the noise “arms race.” The law empowers the Federal Communications Commission to assure a reasonable auditory standard is maintained.

In my estimation this is government getting it right. Sure, businesses could have eventually toned down their advertising decibels. Maybe consumers would have reacted away from loudly advertised products. Maybe, given enough time, laissez faire would have worked its magic without government engagement. But somehow I don’t think so. In this instance, at least, government’s positive action created a common good.

The trick in government getting it right is not No Government versus Total Government. It’s maintaining limited government of, by, and for the people. In the end, it’s not about government for government’s sake. It’s always about the people and how government can best contribute. Government is servant, not the master.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

People get tired of the presidential primary election season. They get tired of pols (politicians) and polls, innumerable debates, campaigning, and the actual primaries, the political equivalent of “running for the Roses” (Garden).

I’ve read a number of articles proposing a reduction in the current number of primaries and caucuses. Some call for a limit on the time candidates can campaign. Others want to put all the primaries on one day. Still others yearn for a national primary, get it over in “one swell foop.”

But there’s value in multiple primaries over several months leading to national nominating political party conventions and ultimately the general election.

A long primary season wears us out, but more importantly it wears candidates out. We, therefore, get to see candidates under physical and emotional duress. How do they handle the stress? Are they healthy? Do they lie? What really is their character like? Do they have the stamina, the intellect, the experience to lead? Can they raise sufficient support? Are they likeable, trustworthy? Do they have a vision for the country?

In 1972, Sen. Edmund Muskie gave a speech during the presidential campaign defending his wife and demonstrating a high degree of emotion and even tears. The latter, though possibly understandable, nevertheless effectively ended his campaign. In 1992, Sen. Paul Tsongas dropped out of the Democratic primary race due to ill health. He died in 1997 at age 55, days before his first term as President would have ended had he been elected in 1992. Sen Bob Dole ran for President in 1996 as the Republican nominee. During the campaign the American public discovered the war hero and effective senator with an acerbic wit did not possess a temperament especially suited to the presidency.

In 2004, Gov. Howard Dean celebrated his good showing in the Iowa Democratic caucuses by issuing what became known as the “Dean Scream.” This bit of emotion made Dean look like a wild man and quickly eroded his support. Prior to his run for the presidency in 2008, Sen John Edwards conducted an affair, denied it when it became public, had a baby with the other woman, denied this too, and eventually admitted everything. His political future hit a dead-end. He’s still under indictment for allegedly misappropriating campaign funds to pay for the woman’s expenses. In 2011, Herman Cain suspended his campaign due to a growing list of women alleging sexual harassment and affairs.

These negative samples represent only a few examples of things we learn about candidates during presidential election primary campaigns. We also learn positive things. In 1980 and 1984 we learned even more about Ronald Reagan: that he was a leader, that he had moral courage, and that he held a well developed vision for the country.

Presidential primaries may be many and at times mundane. But they serve a purpose to democracy. They help us figure out who is who, what we want or are willing to put up with, and who might—hopefully—be a good person to whom we can entrust the future of the body politic.

Presidential election primaries are messy, but other non-democratic countries should be so blessed.

I like the primary season. It’s political theater and political sport. It’s like a long political playoff leading to the political Super Bowl every four years on Tuesday after the first Monday in November.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

"There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law."

Remember that one? Vice President Al Gore repeated variations of this interesting ethical argument several times during a press conference in March 1997. The issue was whether the Vice President had violated any laws by making partisan calls in the White House to solicit campaign funds. The Vice President’s against-the-wall defense was, to paraphrase, “It’s not specifically illegal (which by the way wasn’t true), so it must be OK.”

I thought of this last week listening to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain announce he was “suspending”—a soft word for quitting, running for cover, or I have no idea what may come out next—his campaign for the Republican nomination.

Why did Cain suspend his campaign? “I’ve got to think about my family first. That is absolutely my #1 priority.” Really? Since when?

I’m not suggesting I know whether Herman Cain is a philanderer. I don’t, at least not for sure. But there was a lot of smoke and more coming: his wife apparently didn’t know anything about the woman (an alleged 13-year affair) to whom Cain had given money and spoken on the phone repeatedly over months, he apparently never talked to his wife about all this until he made a trek home to “reassess” his campaign, and his wife, perhaps tellingly, never publicly came to his defense. Sad.

What’s worse, like “no controlling legal authority,” before Cain threw in the towel, Cain’s lawyer issued this statement in an attempt to defend him: “...This appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults—a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life….”

Are you kidding me? If this were you, do you really want your lawyer making a lawyerly statement like this? Why didn’t Cain or his wife or his lawyer scream to the high heavens, “It ain’t so”?

Now we have a new one: “Sex between consenting adults is no one’s business.” OK. I can buy the freedom and privacy part of this argument. But I can’t buy the implication that anything two people decide to do is by definition “right” or “moral” and, by the way, no one else’s business. And oh by the way, society, morality, children, family, friends, organizations, and nation-states that happened to be affected by these consenting adults be hanged.

Bill Clinton tried this. He said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” lying through his teeth to the American people as he said it. Later under oath he debated the definition of “is.” Look in the dictionary under “weasel words” and you’ll see a picture of Bill Clinton, or maybe Al Gore, or maybe Herman Cain—I know, I know, we don’t know for sure about Cain. OK. If he didn’t conduct an illicit affair(s), then why did he suspend his campaign?

Not illegal doesn’t make something right, moral, or necessarily even advisable. Vice presidents, presidents, and candidates don’t seem to have learned this along the way. Ask John Edwards. For that matter, if he were still around, ask Ted Kennedy. Ask too many American political leaders. Will Newt Gingrich be next? I don’t know, but I do know his personal past is checkered at best.

Sex, lies, and presidential politics are becoming an all-too-common evil triumvirate. Wonder what it would be like to listen to presidential candidates who had high principles of ethics and actually held to them?

Wonder what it would be like to hear presidential candidates who actually told the truth? Especially to their spouses.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Disagreeing agreeably is a talent a lot of people haven’t mastered. This is particularly evident in politics the world over, but the American presidency seems to attract more than its share. Politics is always wont for critical thinkers who are not critical.

Every American President knows he’ll be condemned if he does and condemned if he doesn’t. It comes with the territory, so as Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

But there’s something especially perverse, particularly from a Christian point of view, when the loyal opposition disrespects not only the policy but the person.

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain referred to former Speaker of the House Democrat Nancy Pelosi as “Princess Nancy.” We all know “sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt me.” But really, is calling another national leader an intentionally sarcastic name “presidential”? And Cain of all people, who is battling stories about old sexual harassment allegations, should avoid commentary that smacks of chauvinism.

President Obama is, as president, regularly excoriated in the Republican, conservative, and sometimes general press or social media. Again, this comes with the territory. President George W. Bush certainly caught more than his share of the same. But what’s disturbing is the number of times the President is attacked as a man not as a political leader with particular policy views.

Talk show conservative Rush Limbaugh has called President Obama “Pharaoh,” “Jackass,” “Triple Double Oreo,” and worse. You expect this from an info-tainer, but not so much we’d hope from political leaders. Republican presidential candidates have a list of their own derogatory names for the President and for each other, and the President’s been known to use a few of his own for them.

The point, though, is not silly names but an attitude of genuine disrespect toward the individual and by implication the Office. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Fox News commentator and comedian Dennis Miller are both known for a no-holds-barred approach. But in terms of the President, both men have consistently expressed respect for the Obama the man. Both men have repeatedly said on television that they like the President, appreciate how he treats his wife and daughters, are glad for him and the country in the sense that this democracy did indeed elect a Black president, and actually enjoy being with him. This respect in no way prevents them from slicing and dicing, daily, President Obama’s political views and actions. Sadly, O’Reilly has actually been criticized by his conservative constituency for expressing favorable views of Obama the man.

Respecting a political leader, no matter who they are, and particularly the President sets a tone for disagreement, discussion, and debate. It sets a tone for potential common ground, agreement, a working consensus, governance.

I for one am glad President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner have golfed together. President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill used to do political battle throughout the day, than meet for drinks and stories at day’s end. They were political foes and personal friends.

I like how President Obama carries himself, projecting an image of sophistication and class. I’m especially glad that his relationship with his wife and daughters, like President Bush before him, is genuine and a good model. I like it when President Obama gives eloquent speeches, even when I often disagree considerably with his policy perspectives.

I will likely vote for someone other than President Obama in the next election because I do not agree with the direction he is leading or non-leading the country. I do not embrace many of his philosophic or political/economic views. But I like the man and I respect the Office.

So I’m weary of character attacks leveled at the President by people who should be able to martial more astute arguments supporting their views than cheap name-calling or ad hominem jibes.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at