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Wallace B. Henley Op-ed: Who is sitting in the gates with Biden?


Commentary By Wallace B. Henley, Exclusive Columnist| Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/who-is-sitting-in-the-gates-with-biden.html/

One gets the disconcerting sensation that leadership is absent from the gates of the nation.

“I’m not supposed to take any questions,” said the president recently at FEMA headquarters as he was briefed on actions to help those slammed by Hurricane Ida.

Wallace Henley
Wallace Henley, former Senior Associate Pastor of 2nd Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. | Photo by Scott Belin

A Fox News writer noted, “President Joe Biden has repeatedly implied that his handlers set the rules and determine when and where he’s allowed to take questions from the press, leading observers to ponder who is actually calling the shots behind the scenes.”[1]

And who is telling the president which reporters to call on at press conferences?

White House staffs often suffer the delusion that the voters elected them.

It is the way of hubris, and there is hardly a greater bastion of hubris than the White House. Every time presidents forget this, they vacate their seat in the gates and give it to the bureaucracy.

However, it takes a strong president to tell the gate-usurpers to get out of the way.

A wise leader will give due consideration to the advice of his or her staff. But a foolish leader loses functional leadership when he or she becomes a sycophant of aides, assistants, counselors, cabinet officers, functionaries, and all the other animals who inhabit the zoo of big agencies — the White House being the biggest animal house of all.

When the leader hands over his or her place in the gates to the functionaries, the Don Beard maxim becomes true. Don and his wife, Mary Kay, were important players in the founding, with Charles Colson, of Prison Fellowship. Both had served prison time, and both were thoroughly converted followers of Jesus Christ. They served with me in two churches where I was pastor.

Don had seen chaos in prisons he had inhabited, and, when things got wild in any institutional setting, would say, “the inmates are running this place.” Then he would turn serious, pointing out the need for strong leadership to arise and manage the situation.

Sadly, the Biden White House “inmates” seemed to have seized the gates of leadership, and the president has become the sycophant rather than the superior. If this be the case, there is chaos in the gates. Biblical history shows that whatever happens in the gates of leadership, for good and bad, determines what happens in the city, and what happens in the city dictates what happens in the nation.

The gates always are up for grabs. A Darwinian strain constantly runs through places of great power like the White House, in which the survival of the fittest becomes a wrestling match, or a shoving contest to see who can snuggle up closest to the president in the gates.

On top of all the other crises America faces, now comes this threatening issue about who controls the president. Who really sits in the gates of the nation at this precarious moment?

As I noted in a previous column, cities, in antiquity, were to be sanctuaries of order. They were walled off from the chaos outside. Mighty gates maintained the order of the city. But everything depended on who occupied the gates, and what they were willing, or could be bribed and cajoled to allow in. According to Isaiah 14, Lucifer’s aim is to “overthrow cities” to achieve his goal of bringing chaos to the world. That assault works its way incrementally through institutions crucial for the cosmos-order of society — families, churches, schools, businesses, civil governments right up to the White House itself.

To fend off the assault on the gates by hubristic bit-players, a leader must discern the pretentious from the principled advice that should be heeded. That leader must give attention to the character he invites into the gates with him or her because, as Proverbs 29:8 (MSG) puts it, “A gang of cynics can upset a whole city; a group of sages can calm everyone down.”

As a low-level presidential aide in the Nixon White House, I had the privilege of serving under two “sages.” One was Harry S. Dent, who at one point had been in Nixon’s inner circle. However, Harry ultimately found himself banished from that elite group. He later found the reason was because senior people said Harry was “too much of a ‘Boy Scout’.”

After leaving the White House, Harry, an able lawyer, went to Bible College, and became the leader of the Billy Graham Center in North Carolina. Harry was a “sage” and Nixon’s presidency might have been saved had the president insisted Harry was going to sit in the “gates.”

I also worked under the leadership of another great Washington “sage” — Dr. George Shultz. Our team had been charged by the president to help school systems in 11 southern states implement the largest school desegregation in history. Emotions were intense, chaos threatened, violence loomed. I traveled with Shultz in those states as he gave counsel to leaders in government, business, and education. I watched his wise and calm guidance put cooling streams on blistering landscapes. And by the way, school systems in all 11 states were peacefully integrated in the fall of 1970.

Richard Nixon had been smart enough to pull George Schultz into the gates of power with him.

Joe Biden, as any president, must seek good counsel, but because of his issues with aging — whether merely perceived or actual — he does need wise advisors, and he needs to be able to discern the hubristic from the truly humble public servants.

Pray that he will surround himself with “a group of sages.”


[1] Biden repeatedly implies he’s not in charge of when, where he can take questions from the press | Fox News

Wallace B. Henley’s fifty-year career has spanned newspaper journalism, government in both White House and Congress, the church, and academia. He is author or co-author of more than 20 books. He is a teaching pastor at Grace Church, the Woodlands, Texas.

For media inquiries, contact:  ChristianPost@pinkston.co

White House attacks GOP Govs. Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott: Mitigate dangerous Delta spike or ‘get out of the way’


Reported by SARAH TAYLOR | August 04, 2021

Read more at https://www.theblaze.com/news/white-house-attacks-ron-desantis-greg-abbott-delta-spike/

White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued scathing advice to Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis (Fla.) and Greg Abbott (Texas): Get control of the Delta variant in your states or “get out of the way.” Both of the Republican leaders have been outspoken in their opposition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s newly updated guidelines recommending universal masking in schools and high-transmission areas.

A Wednesday report from Yahoo! News detailed Psaki’s Tuesday press briefing from the White House, as COVID-19 case counts in Florida and Texas have risen to the point that they currently account for one-third of all infections across the United States. Psaki, who insisted that the Biden administration has offered assistance to both governors to get the spread under control, appeared to suggest that the states’ leaders have yet to accept the White House’s help.

“But if you aren’t going to help, if you aren’t going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing to lead in their communities, whether they are teachers, university leaders, or private sector leaders or others who are trying to save lives,” she said Tuesday in response to the questions about the rising confirmed COVID-19 case numbers in both Florida and Texas.

The outlet added, “Asked to clarify what she meant by having the two governors ‘get out of the way,’ Psaki elaborated, ‘That means don’t ban, don’t make it harder for people to put requirements on masks — or asking for vaccination status — into law.”

She added, “Leaders are going to have to choose whether they’re going to follow public health guidelines or they’re going to follow politics.”

Elsewhere in her Tuesday remarks, Psaki said that President Joe Biden would likely speak directly to DeSantis about the state’s rising COVID-19 numbers — but only if they “thought it would make a difference.”

“But I don’t have any expectation or prediction of a call between them,” she hastily added.

In a statement on Psaki’s remarks, the DeSantis administration said:

She might want to brush up on the Constitution and learn more about the role of a state governor. As it turns out, freedom matters. Every day, nearly a thousand Americans relocate to Florida — mostly fleeing from the ever-changing, contradictory COVID restrictions pushed by federal bureaucrats on lockdown states. By contrast, Governor DeSantis keeps up with the latest research and makes data-driven decisions. If he had ‘gotten out of the way’ as Psaki suggested, and let the CDC run our state, many of those lives might have been lost — as we saw with the tragic situation in New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where the age-adjusted death rates are significantly higher than in Florida.

A spokesperson for the Abbott administration in Texas has yet to issue public remark on Psaki’s admonitions.

White House asks reporters to submit questions ahead of daily press briefings: ‘Not really a free press’


President Joe Biden’s administration apparently does not want to be caught off guard with tough questions by the media during its press briefings. According to the Daily Beast, Biden’s communications department has requested that reporters submit their questions to the White House staff in advance of press secretary Jen Psaki’s daily briefings, presumably to avoid being scrutinized by reporters with difficult questions.

The issue was reportedly discussed during a White House Correspondents Association meeting last Friday. Reporters are allegedly upset over the White House’s request, fearing it plays into the perception of coordination between the West Wing and media.

“That’s not really a free press at all,” one White House reporter said, according to the Daily Beast.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” the reporter added.

Indeed, WHCA leaders instructed to reporters to either “push back” against the requests or not comply altogether.

In contrast to the Trump administration, which jettisoned daily White House press briefings almost completely, Biden and his communications team promised to restore the daily briefings and have thus far delivered on that promise.

Biden’s administration claimed that asking reporters for their questions ahead of time is not an attempt to dodge questions, but rather to understand the pulse of reporting on any given day.

“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a spokesperson told the Daily Beast. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”

Meanwhile, Eric Schultz, who served as a deputy press secretary in the Obama administration, claimed the Biden communication team’s request is fairly normal, allowing staff adequate time to prepare for the daily briefing.

“This is textbook communications work. The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions, instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on,” Schultz told the Daily Beast. “In a non-COVID environment, this would happen in casual conversations throughout the day in lower and upper press. One of the few upsides to reporters hovering over your desk all day, is that you get a very quick sense of what they’re working on.”

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