Mercy in the White House

Over at First Things, Gayle Trotter has a nice interview with Timothy S. Goeglein, the disgraced “middleman” in the last Bush administration who writes of some very poignant and personal moments with the man in his book The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era:

When I resigned from my position and I drove home, I felt my world had caved in, and I was certain that that was the end of the end. When I came back to the White House on Monday to begin clearing out my desk and taking the pictures off the wall, I heard those words that nobody in the White House ever wants to hear from the chief of staff, which is, “The boss wants to see you.” I went to see the president, and he looked me in the eyes after I could barely get an apology out, and he said, “Tim, I forgive you.” I was really shocked, and I tried a second time to apologize for what I had done. He said to me, “I’ve known grace and mercy in my life, and I’m extending it to you. You’re forgiven.” I said to the president, “You should have taken me by the lapels and tossed me onto Pennsylvania Avenue for what I have done.” He said to me, “I forgive you. You’re forgiven. Grace and mercy are real. Now, we can talk about all this, or we can talk about the last eight years.” We prayed together. We embraced. As I prepared to leave the Oval Office, he turned to me, and he said, “And, by the way, I want you to bring your wife and children here, so I can tell them what a great husband and father you’ve been.”

That’s classy. And large. I know a fan of George W. Bush’s who is going to love getting this book for Christmas!

UPDATE: Speaking of sin, redemption and Christmas gifts; I have been meaning to recommend Lino Rulli’s very funny, often poignant, occasionally shocking book, Sinner: The Catholic Guy’s Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic. I have a lot of books I plan to mention in the coming weeks, but if you have a guy in your life who is wearing a baseball cap and focusing on pizza and the game — one who kind of gets the idea that there is a God, and will go to church for the big holidays but you know — he’s a guy, and not supposed to think hard about “the God stuff”, and besides, he figures he’s a sinner and beyond hope anyway — this is the book you might want to put in his stocking. Serious thoughts about living the life of an average sinner, while trying to figure out “the God stuff.” It could create the opening you’ve been looking for to really bring faith into your day-to-day relationship with the “guy” and even help him to not feel “funny” about saying a prayer.

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  • Howard

    I’m no fan of George W. Bush, but this is a hopeful sign about his character. It’s too bad the personal humility evident in this exchange did not work its way into his performance in office. He always struck me as a man who may have been humble as an individual man, but who entertained an odd conviction that the president can do no wrong. His most serious failings — an overconfidence leading up to the war in Afghanistan and even more so in Iraq, and the continued shift of the presidency in the direction of a dictatorship — seem to spring from that conviction.

  • Manny

    That’s more than classy. That’s a person with a special heart.

  • Sandy

    I always thought that President Bush was a man whose life had been touched by God and tried his best to do what he thought was right. Did he make all the right decisions, no, but who does. He made me feel safe and I thank him for that.

  • Eric

    There are a lot of children in Afghanistan and Iraq that are grateful for Bush sending our soldiers in to overturn a bad government. There are a lot more schools and hospitals open to the needs of the people than ever before. Both places have a few generations to go before life is stable, but you have to start somewhere.

    Obummer is a bummer.