He's Loyal, By George: Southern Baptist Lobbyist Land Stills Loves President Bush

Polls show Bush is deeply unpopular with the American people, but his partisan allies in the Religious Right are standing firm that he will go down in history as a favorite.

Will President Bush be judged as one of America's best presidents or one of the worst?

Polls show he's deeply unpopular with the American people, but his partisan allies in the Religious Right are standing firm that he will go down in history as a favorite.

Southern Baptist lobbyist Richard Land claims Bush will be the "Harry Truman of our time."   When Truman left office, his approval rating dropped to the 20s during his last months in office, though he is now considered by many to be a pretty good president.

Land's views on Bush aren't much of a surprise. The Southern Baptist leader feverishly backed Bush in both elections, with the expectation that Bush would further advance the Religious Right's agenda.

And Bush did try his best. Out of all of Bush's work catering to the Religious Right, Land specifically applauded his efforts to curb abortions and stem-cell research.

He also threw in an "Amen" that Bush's judicial appointments have racked up conservative majorities in 10 out of 13 federal appeals courts.

Land is typical of many leaders of the Religious Right. They are relentlessly partisan, and of course, Land won't abandon his loyalty to a man who has made it his mission to tear down the wall of separation between church and state.

Fortunately, some thoughtful evangelicals hold more nuanced views.

Rick Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, proved during an NPR interview with Terry Gross on Dec. 2, that his Christian beliefs do not require him to be partisan.

Cizik praised the Bush administration for its work on behalf of AIDS relief in sub-Saharan Africa but criticized Bush for an "ill-planned, ill-conceived" war in Iraq.

"So, look," Cizik said, "one has to have mixed emotions about the Bush administration."

The NAE leader also expressed misgivings about Bush's high-profile Christianity.

"I suppose George W. Bush's faith was a mixed blessing," said Cizik. "On the one hand, we evangelicals took pride in the fact that this man became president who openly said that he was a person of faith, for whom, even Jesus he said was his favorite philosopher. And yet, he didn't in so many ways reflect that Jesus as we would have wanted him to have. With a humility and a fashion to the rest of the world that communicated just what kind of people we are. I don't think that real picture ever came through."

Knowing what I believe is the "real picture" of the Bush administration, I would never view Bush as a successful president.

What do you think, fifty years from now, will Land's opinion of Bush hold true with the American people or will they think more like Cizik?