Redemption has a friend in President Obama, and that’s a very good thing. My hope is that what the President said about Michael Vick will not become so politicized that people wlll misunderstand what the President is really trying to convey.
Already there are those who think it was inappropriate for the President to praise the Philadelphia Eagles for their willingness to give Michael Vick a second chance. They say it sends the wrong message. The White House indicated President Obama spoke to the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, by phone earlier this week.
“He said, ‘So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance,’ ” said Lurie, “He said, ‘It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.’ And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”
The White House says the President’s call to Lurie was part of a discussion he had about the Eagles use of alternative energy at the team’s stadium. But talk about Michael Vick, who is rapidly regaining his status as a football icon and is a serious candidate for MVP, most certainly dominated that conversation.
The cynical among us can make a convincing argument that the forgiveness of the fans just so happens to coincide with a career year for Michael Vick, and that Jeffrey Lurie is just being a good business man, wisely benefitting from all of his assets.
Yes, Michael Vick is a polarizing figure because of his crimes against dogs, but he is also the most visible symbol of what can result when there are redemptive efforts by the individual and forgiveness and acceptance by others. That’s the big picture I’m pretty sure the President hopes we all see.
People who have been behind bars do need a second chance upon release, especially since their names aren’t Michael Vick.
Many people are wondering why the president is talking about this at all, when it might have been easier not to comment. I think the leader of the free world is in a unique position to demonstrate through words and deeds, the values Americans should espouse.
There are thousands of men and women who come out of the prison system each year into a society that has no desire to deal with them. That is just not right. We can and should make a place for those who’ve served their time.
Just as importantly, Mr. Obama rightly believes that redemption is something on which all of us can actually find common ground.