When I was a teenager my mom gave me an assignment. I was to rifle through the Bible, particularly the Proverbs, and write a report on the concept of a reputation. I do not remember much about my findings, but I do remember coming to one major conclusion: a reputation, once tarnished, is a very difficult thing to rehabilitate. Better to never lose your reputation than to find yourself in the position of having to restore it.
A brief excerpt from an overheard conversation:
"I just don't know where we're headed."
"I know. It's the worst I ever seen it."
Two random people striking up a conversation in the airport. It's middle America, so you might chalk this conversation up to couple of ignorant, red state hicks, as they talk about all the ammunition they've accumulated over the past year. The IRS comes up. The NSA is mentioned. Homeland Security's vast ammunition purchases of their own are mentioned. Even the EPA makes an appearance, as one of the gentlemen works at a natural gas processing plant and notes how hard they're getting hit with ever narrowing carbon emissions requirements, choking the life out of their business.
What hath the "Great Uniter" wrought?
We are the Divided States of America. Everything done in Washington, D.C. is met with widespread suspicion. The vast store of pride and trust Americans have held toward their government is now just fumes. There have always been conspiracy quacks, and they remain among us today. But it seems to me that never before has the majority of this country held such deep suspicion towards their government. Is it really a majority? Time will tell.
From my perspective, what the Barack Obama administration has accomplished, in a matter of mere weeks, is the worst of all possible worlds. Not only have they tarnished a reputation of being trustworthy, they have tarnished it precisely in a way that makes Alex Jones look rational.
Is the Sturm und Drang over the NSA program legitimate? I do not know. I'm not really in a position to know. What I deeply suspect is that this administration, with the NSA scandal on top of the IRS on top of the DOJ on top of the EPA on top of Benghazi, has squandered every last bit of goodwill and trust remaining in the vast open spaces of middle America.
In their worst moments they might have actually hated Obama, but they loved their country and believed the best about our institutions. No more.
And the Bible teaches that a reputation lost is a reputation very difficult to restore.
This President and his administration will be incapable of doing it. Because the people represented in the random conversation I heard have long since stopped listening. They're too busy stockpiling their ammo.
We are in for an awfully fractious next four years in American history.