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Teflon and toxicity

A momentous week in Washington brings acquittal for Trump, angst for Democrats, and acrimony for many

Teflon and toxicity

President Trump speaks at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Evan Vucci/AP)

As Patricia Schroeder cooked eggs for her children one morning in 1983, the Democratic congresswoman from Colorado contemplated her non-stick pan and created a moniker for President Ronald Reagan. 

In a speech on the House floor, Schroeder called Reagan a “Teflon” president—nothing seemed to stick to him. Schroeder didn’t mean it as a compliment, but the nickname stuck. Admirers of Reagan later said he transcended criticism in part because of his calm demeanor. 

Few would likely attribute a calm demeanor to President Donald Trump’s ability to survive controversy, but as the Senate acquitted him of impeachment charges on Feb. 5, Trump’s popularity rating hit 49 percent—the highest since he took office.

Democrats had a stickier week: Democratic Party officials in Iowa botched the state’s first-in-the-nation contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. It took nearly a week for officials to declare Pete Buttigieg the winner of the most delegates in the contest. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., finished a close second.

In New Hampshire, Sanders narrowly prevailed on Feb. 11, while Buttigieg came in second. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., finished just behind Buttigieg, setting up a potential showdown for voters looking for an alternative to Sanders.

The candidates now face a southern swing that will test their ability to woo a critical voting bloc: African American voters. Despite a poor showing in early primaries, former Vice President Joe Biden was leading polls ahead of South Carolina’s Feb. 29 primary, and he’s ­registered high support among black voters.

As 2020 unfolds, what can Christians do in an often-noxious environment?

African Americans have overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates for decades, but President Trump used his State of the Union address on Feb. 4 to serve up a direct pitch to black supporters.

He also welcomed Venezuelan President Juan Guaido, amid Venezuela’s continued breakdown and Guaido’s inability to oust dictator Nicolas Maduro. Hours after Guaido’s appearance in Washington, D.C., Maduro’s intelligence service reportedly moved five Americans from house arrest to a Caracas prison.

The Maduro regime has detained the five U.S. citizens and one legal resident for more than two years. Officials charged the CITGO employees with corruption but haven’t given them a trial date.  

In China, the deadly coronavirus continued to menace locked-down cities, and thousands of passengers on a cruise ship in Japan remained quarantined after the virus spread to 135 people aboard the vessel. 

Meanwhile, England unstuck itself from the European Union, as the first stages of Brexit officially began.

Back in the United States, politics promised to remain sticky as the 2020 presidential elections began in earnest. If Trump continues his streak as a kind of Teflon president, it’s worth remembering a notable trait of Teflon: It isn’t indestructible. At extremely high temperatures, Teflon can break down and release fumes. People inhaling the fumes can fall ill with symptoms that mimic the flu.

When Trump attended the National Prayer Breakfast the morning after his Senate acquittal, the high heat of impeachment and anger at his political foes boiled over. 

Arthur Brooks, a Catholic and a former president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, pleaded with the audience to pursue civility with each other, and he reminded them of Jesus words’: “Love your enemies.”

When Trump took the stage, he quipped: “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.” He used the first part of the prayer event to hail his vindication and lash out at his foes. (He also took an apparent swipe at Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the only GOP senator to vote against acquittal.)

Democrats had displayed their own toxicity earlier in the week: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., dramatically ripped up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union address after he delivered the remarks to Congress.

As 2020 unfolds, what can Christians do in an often-noxious environment? One idea: We can pray we won’t release toxic fumes ourselves. Under the high heat of political disagreements, even with other believers, we can remember the Bible’s teaching about how God designs to use heat in a Christian’s life: to burn off dross and bring out gold. 

It won’t be painless, but it can bring glory to God.

Jamie Dean

Jamie Dean

Jamie is national editor of WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously worked for the Charlotte World. Jamie has covered politics, disasters, religion, and more for WORLD. She resides in Charlotte, N.C. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 02/18/2020 07:10 pm

    If we look at Jesus, he attacked his foes too calling them whitewashed tombs! But, why did he attack them? Wasn't that very unchristian by the modern day Evangelical standard! How dare he use His spiritual platform to attack his political opponents who were trying to kill him!

    But wait a minute, isn't Jesus God so he has every right to promote justice and call out the spiritual hypocrites? Yes, but aren't the parallels striking? Trump was under one of the most viscous political attacks in our countries history - they were trying to kill him politically and if they could get away with it physically!  Here he was sitting at this "religious" event where Pelosi and other Democrats were pretending to be religious while they had undertaken a viscous attack on the President. Trump called them out on it just like Jesus did!

    I commend Trump for standing up to the hypocrisy of Pelosi, other Democrats, Mitt Romney and some religious leaders at the event! I find it ironic that Jamie Dean would support those committing the injustice! 

  • JD
    Posted: Mon, 02/17/2020 11:19 am

    Ditto, Cyborg3!!

  • Andy Knudsen
    Posted: Mon, 02/17/2020 10:41 pm

    This is what Jesus said of those who crucified him:

    And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

    Much of what President Trump's opponents do is indefensible, but much of what President Trump does and says should not be defended by comparing him to Jesus.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 02/18/2020 08:41 pm

    Andy, I don’t agree with you because our nation is at stake! Should we not stand up to evil of the likes of Pelosi, Schumer, and Schiff? Can you not see the injustice done to Trump by these wicked characters and the bogus impeachment? 

    I don’t understand why so many Christians seem to be so obtuse when it comes to politics? The wicked are out to destroy Christians and one reason they hate Trump so much is that he is defending us! He is winning and Christians have the gall to attack him because he isn’t so prim and proper - he is a direct New Yorker who tells it like it is. 

    I am reminded of the time that the Children of Israel made it to the land of Canaan. Rather than destroying the wicked as God commanded, the Children of Israel wanted to be “nice” and they didn’t drive the Canaanites from the land. In fact, they were politically correct and allowed their children to intermarry with them but God was not happy. They violated his command. 

    Today, Christians are behaving like the Children of Israel by not standing against the evil of abortion, the hyper homosexual agenda that wants to remove our religious liberties, the radical transgenderism being hoisted on our kids, the new atheism that attacks our faith and our children, the socialism and communism based on atheism, the intolerance of the left with their hate crimes and bigotry against Christians, the economic suicide by the social spending, and so much more. 

    You may ask, “But how are we doing this?” You aren’t supporting the imperfect man that God chose to fight our battles and many of you are directly opposing him - even considering to not vote for him! This is outrageous where a vote for a Democratic is a clear vote against our Christian interests!  It is traitorous to God! It is traitorous to the Church. It is traitorous to the faith! Many Christians are all concerned about appearances - if others will think them respectable if they support Trump! They want the accolades of man! They want the accolades of their comrades in the press, but they are traitors to God!  How can it be any other way? If you vote for or indirectly support the very people who are trying to wipe out Christianity from the land then you are a traitor to the faith! 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 02/16/2020 07:50 pm

    Sad to say, I'm starting to think that "nothing sticks" because it's so difficult for any new revelation to top anything that's already known about our president. So his opponents rage (again) and everyone else yawns.