Our nation is facing a moral crisis according to J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness. Addressing the Loaves and Fishes gathering last month, Nelson stated that our moral crisis, our “moment of intense pause,” has been caused by “moral ineptness in high places [of government].” Referring to the sequester Nelson stated, “We are now in the midst of…indiscriminate spending cuts…that result from a weakness in moral character.” There is some truth to Nelson’s claim, but the devil—as always—is in the details.
At first glance it seems that Nelson chides both the President and the Congress for their failure of leadership, which has led to the current stalemate. When read more closely, it’s clear where he believes the lion share of the responsibility lies: “This crisis, caused by our leadership in Congress, is at the core of our spiritual consciousness.” In reality, it takes two to tango.
Surely the President deserves a rebuke for instituting the sequester provision in the first place—a political game of Russian roulette designed to give him leverage over Republicans. It appears that there may, after all, be a real bullet in the chamber. Yet surely there is some hubris among Republicans who appear willing to give little by way of compromise. In the end, there’s no telling whether the pistol is pointing at the President, the congress, or—more likely—the American people.