Well, it has been a high week for political rhetoric in the United States, with both Mitt Romney and now Barack Obama having made their pitch for election or re-election to the presidency. I won’t pretend that I have paid a lot of attention to them, but I gather that, amongst other things, they talked about economic goals such as job creation and foreign policy issues such as how to deal with Russia.
But in our Stratfor article this week George Friedman argues that the character of a political leader is more important than his or her policies. Even the most deeply held policies, he says, have to yield to unexpected events such as 9/11 or the financial meltdown of 2008, whereas a person of character will stick to his principles even while adapting his policies to circumstances. I think anyone could agree with that.
Of course, if a person’s character is formed by wrong-headed principles it is no advantage to man or beast that he sticks to them. That’s why many Americans will be guided by candidates’ principles regarding abortion, the nature of marriage and religious liberty in this election -- perhaps more so than before, because they have been put in contention by policies that are purely optional and not at all dictated by circumstances.
In any case, politicians of “real character” seem to be rather scarce on the world scene. That is why I was moved to read yesterday about Dr Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian Cabinet minister, who is trying to shift thinking on how the country’s blasphemy law is interpreted and thus protect innocent people like the young intellectually handicapped girl who has been accused recently.
Dr Bhatti is the brother of Shabaz Bhatti, who was assassinated last year after advocating for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Dr Paul has given up a comfortable life as a surgeon in Italy to take on what can only be described as a highly dangerous job to carry on his brother’s work. Now, that’s what I call character.
In two other new articles Dr Rick Fitzgibbons explains the moral difference between adoption by same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, and Izzy Kalman comments on a New York Times article about bullying in medical schools.