I'm unsure what to make of the retirement of Congressman Jason Chaffetz, because I don't know if it's a furlough or a desertion.
I don't know if he is thinking about his wallet or his country.
And only time will tell if this move is fateful or feckless.
The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, a representative from Utah, Chaffetz says he's had a "midlife crisis," and he's tired of nights away from home and family. So he's going a new direction.
My initial reaction was contempt.
Because I hate quitters, and because the battle isn't over, and because many people invested many things in him and his usefulness to the country. When they send you in to fight the dragon, it's not about you anymore, it's about fighting the dragon.
At the church Chaffetz attends, they sometimes sing, "We are all enlisted till the conflict is o'er." This conflict is not over -- the battle to defend constitutional principles is not won -- and yet this warrior is quitting the field.
Service is hard, and it requires sacrifice. It requires you to put the greater good above yourself and to put your own interests last.
And if this is about cashing in and becoming a talking head on Fox, then we were all duped when we thought Jason Chaffetz was legit. If he is about to become the male Sarah Palin, it has all been a joke and we were the butt of it.
The people who first gathered to Jason Chaffetz, and have stood by him since, were not investing in his career. They were not interested in enhancing his resume or bank account. They were people who loved this country, saw its mission as divine, and feared assaults to its Constitution. They backed him because they thought he was capable of raising a standard of truth and fighting for it.
Their faith did not seem to have been misplaced.
Chaffetz was immediately and uniquely able to stand out from the crowd. He was not just a legislator, he was a communicator. He could speak truth persuasively and positively. He had the bully pulpit, but was not a bully.
Even when doing the invective of the inquisitor in the Oversight Committee, he was more righteous indignation than bitching grandstander.
His years in the House have led him steadily upward, which means they have increasingly empowered him. Empowered him to do the work he was sent to do -- not just representing the people of the 3rd District of Utah, but representing eternal and essential principles of liberty.
And then, out of the blue, he said he was quitting.
Not a quarter of the way into a new term -- not 25 percent of the way toward keeping the promise of the last election -- he was walking out the door.
At 50, in his prime, with 25 years of likely usefulness ahead of him, he was walking away like it was nothing.
That rubs me the wrong way.
Unless fate takes this where we can't imagine. Unless fate takes Jason Chaffetz where we can't imagine.
America will not be saved by the choir preaching of Fox News. You don't spread your gospel by hollering it to a niche audience locked behind the doors of a cable channel, you spread it by shouting it on the street corner. You need to be heard by people who don't know they need to hear you.
But maybe a Fox chair builds credibility within the group of people whose votes determine the outcome of Republican primaries. Maybe this is a waypoint on a journey further and higher than the resignation suggests. Maybe this is Reagan traveling the country giving dinner speeches and making friends.
I hope it is.
I hope that this is an end around which allows greater service to the Republic. That I can get behind and believe in. But a cashing in, I can't.
Because it's never about yourself. Opportunities and talents are never about self-advancement, they are always about service and the greater good. If you keep that perspective, you're part of the solution. If you lose it, you are part of the problem.
Jason Chaffetz was sent to Washington on a mission.
Only time will tell if this move is a fateful enhancement of that mission, or a dishonorable abandonment of it.