Bush Is A Freaky Jesus Nutcase

Or so says Maureen Dowd in her columnm today, which I'll say a few things about. The topic of Dowd's editorial is religion, and I give her credit for not trying to delve into the depths of a major political figure's psyche for almost three quarters of a column. But then she starts going psychoanalytical, this time with Bush:

..."this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do." He continued: "This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them."

The president's certitude - the idea that he can see into people's souls and that God tells him what is right, then W. tells us if he feels like it - is disturbing. It equates disagreeing with him to disagreeing with Him.

The first thing is, I object strongly to the idea that Bush believes he is under a mandate from God. I think that is wacky. He might be religious, or even religiously-motivated, but arguing that he thinks he is God's earthly conduit - that's just ridiculous. There is no evidence that he thinks this, and if he does, then he has been smart enough to hide it really really well, and has done a perfect job. He makes occasional references to God blessing this, or God gives us that, but that's a common way of speaking, and it's something that's commonly said to invoke the idea of a Higher Being, all-inclusively. And John Kerry does the same thing, just listen to the debates! Does Bush feel he's on God's side? Probably. Does he try to do the things that he thinks God would think is right? Probably. Is he motivated by his faith and religion? I'm sure. Are some people going to support him and his policies simply because of his religious beliefs? Yes. But none of this bothers me because it is his personal prerogative to believe what he believes in, and other people's prerogative to support him for whatever reason. Many, many people of strong private faith operate this way, and there's no problem with that. It's just their way of approaching the world, and it doesn't mean they're going to impose their faith on other people, or think they believe they are receiving direct messages from God. When Bush starts refering to the Christian God or Jesus in his speeches, or starts talking about his divine mandate, then I'll start getting concerned.

The second thing about that quote is, Bush's approach to terror is an awfully weird example to use as evidence of Bush's alleged divine decree. Of all the potential issues out there to take a resolute stand on, that's the one that would least require the help of divine enlightenment. It doesn't take religious conviction to know that it's right to oppose ruthless terrorists who are committed to harming America and who will stop at nothing to do so. Even John Kerry has taken a firm stand on it: "I will hunt down and kill the terrorists wherever they are." Moreover, it's not some religious insight that informs Bush that terrorists "can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision." It's because that's the way they are. It doesn't take a prophet to figure that out. I haven't heard many calls to try to negotiate with terrorists before, but this has got to have the best argument of all of them - only a religious nut would believe that terrorists are motivated by a sinister, uncompromising agenda that is not amenable to reasonable negotiation.

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