Dear Mr. President,
Your presidency to this point has been a chaotic affair, some of which has been your own doing. A little advice from the book of Proverbs, written by a political leader who was the wisest man who ever lived, might help.
First, reflect on the incredible power of the spoken word.
Solomon had much to say about the enormous capacity of the tongue both to harm and to heal. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” he said, “and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:21).” Never forget that, as our president, the impact of your speech is far more potent than the speech of anyone else in our land. Make it your aim to use the power of your tongue to impart life.
Second, pick your fights wisely.
When knuckleheads in our culture say and do aggravate things, it’s almost impossible not to strike back impulsively, rashly, and in anger. But Solomon says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27).
You are an aggressive, combative guy and that quality has endeared many Americans to you. The American people wanted a fighter, and found one in you. But it’s important that you pick your spots, and only fight the important fights. Solomon says, “He who loves quarrels loves sin, and he who builds a high gate invites destruction” (Proverbs 17:19, NIV). Solomon is saying that a man who is always engaged in verbal combat will just wind up provoking even more hostility and increasing the intensity of those who seek to destroy him.
You love to counterattack, which is a refreshing quality in the eyes of conservatives who have watched spineless Republicans serve themselves up as punching bags for as a long as we can remember. But Solomon reminds us that, “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam” (Proverbs 17:14), which can result in the release of a catastrophic level of dark energy. All of which is to say, be selective about which battles you choose to fight. Not every hill is a hill to die on.
Third, think before you speak and Tweet.
Solomon points out that, “when words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NIV). The more words you speak, the more Tweets you send out, the more likely it is that you will communicate something you’d like get back, but it will be too late.
When you are attacked, you fight back, and the American people love you for that. But sometimes it’s okay to slip a punch. Not every verbal attack requires a flurry of counterpunches. Says Solomon, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (Proverbs 20:3).
“He who guards his lips guards his life,” writes Solomon, “but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). Better to wait before speaking than to speak a word in haste that you cannot reel back. One of the marks of a man of maturity is that he carefully considers his words before launching them. “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things” (Proverbs 15:28, NIV).
Fourth, stop interacting with the media.
The members of the media are virtually without exception men whom Solomon calls “fools” and “mockers.” They are fools because they are moral midgets who are uninformed and illiterate about conservatism and the wisdom of a conservative worldview, and have no idea how people outside their tiny little bubbles think and live. They are utterly out of touch with the people who put you in office. And they have a snide contempt for the people who voted for you and for things such as faith in God, honor, and patriotism. You have no obligation to cater to them at all.
Listen to these words: “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words” (Proverbs 23:9). To use Jesus’ expression, speaking truth to the pack of hyenas that represent the modern press is like “throw[ing] your pearls before pigs.” Not only will they fail to appreciate your words, they will “trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matthew 7:6).
I call it the Talking Snake Media, after the slithering serpent who twisted the very words of God and deceived Eve by lying to her. The media does not attend the daily press briefings looking for information. No, they are looking for blood. In fact, Solomon says that very thing: “The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood” (Proverbs 12:6).
Jesus encountered the same dynamic in his time. The cultural elites of his day, the scribes and Pharisees, “began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11:54). They invented the gotcha question, and today’s media has simply adopted the same tactic with you. There is simply no reason to let them sink their fangs into you or your spokesmen.
Your instinct to just cancel press briefings altogether is wise. Or alternatively, your spokesmen can deliver prepared, written remarks, then leave the podium without taking questions. Regardless, I think it’s time, given the fools you are dealing with day in and day out, to simply refuse to take questions from the press. They don’t deserve straight answers, and will only distort them anyway. You have no obligation to feed their venomous appetite for your flesh.
As you grow in your mastery of the tongue, may it be said of you, “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (Proverbs 12:14, NIV).
May God bless you as you continue to lead this nation.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)