“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas. U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate
them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it should focus on four critical targets: the Middle East, China, Iran, and Russia.”
Poor John Kasich. The Ohio governor is by experience, practical political views and demonstrated executive skills among the most qualified and able of all the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, he is a lazy communicator and a clumsy one, and in a job where words and persuasion matter as much as any other tool of leadership, he repeatedly reveals himself to be untrustworthy. The above passage, from Kasich’s foreign policy speech this week, exemplifies this.
A President cannot say that he wants an agency that will promote Judeo-Christian values, because it will be heard, and fairly so, as an effort to promote some religions over others, something the United States government may not do, and may not even appear to want to do. Worse, Kasich chose the exact moment when his words were guaranteed to be interpreted in the worst light possible by Democrats and the news media, as the nation was immersed in an a debate about screening Syrian refugees that was being elevated to dueling hysterias by both the left and the right. Sure enough, I just heard CNN’s Michael Smerconish compare Kasich’s proposal to ISIS-style forced conversion.
Nice job, John.
What he wants to promote, and what the United States best promotes by its own success, are democratic values. Religion has no place in the discussion. There is no way a government or President can extol “Judeo-Christian” anything without appearing to endorse one faith over another. Moreover, “Judeo-Christian values” are not synonymous with “democratic values,” especially “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association.” The principles articulated in the founding documents came from a smorgasbord of philosophers and cultures; attributing them all to Judeo-Christian traditions is a soft version of religious propaganda. It is also historically wrong.
Since Kasich has a well-established pattern of mushy communication, we can’t even be sure that he isn’t proposing a religion-based propaganda agency. After all, if that isn’t what he’s talking about, someone needs to explain to him that promoting democracy is what lots of federal agencies do already at great cost, like the U.S. Agency for International Development and Radio Liberty. Kasich is now “walking back” his verbiage, but as Kasich himself would say (five times in the last debate—drives me nuts) “You know what?” What matters is what you say the first time. If your ethics alarms didn’t ring when you wrote, or read if someone else wrote it, “I will consolidate them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values,” then I can’t trust you, either because you are stupid, careless, tone, or want to turn the U.S. into a theocracy.
Indeed, I can’t be sure that Kasich wasn’t intentionally pandering to the religious conservative bloc by suggesting specific faith-promoting Federal power. The kind of agency Kasich described—who knows what he really had in mind—under a President Cruz or Huckabee ( or Bush? Or Kasich?) could easily mutate into a Ministry of Truth, and the responsible reaction of anyone who believes in the Constitution and American values is…