Prosecute the torture.

October 17, 2004

MUST READ profile of Bush

The Sunday New York Times Magazine has a must read profile of George Bush:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/17BUSH.html?pagewanted=1&oref=login

It's quite a long article written by Ron Suskind and entitled "Without a Doubt." Talk about a "think piece" -- it makes me think: Please let's get this messianic fool out of office! For those of you who won't plough through the whole thing, here's some selected passages:

- ''If Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.''... ''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.''

- The disdainful smirks and grimaces that many viewers were surprised to see in the first presidential debate are familiar expressions to those in the administration or in Congress who have simply asked the president to explain his positions.

- ''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.'' Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' ...Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.'' The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

- ''I've never lived around poor people,'' Wallis remembers Bush saying. ''I don't know what they think. I really don't know what they think. I'm a white Republican guy who doesn't get it. How do I get it?''

- A cluster of particularly vivid qualities was shaping George W. Bush's White House through the summer of 2001: a disdain for contemplation or deliberation, an embrace of decisiveness, a retreat from empiricism, a sometimes bullying impatience with doubters and even friendly questioners.

- 'Mr. President, if we don't devote our energy, our focus and our time on also overcoming global poverty and desperation, we will lose not only the war on poverty, but we'll lose the war on terrorism.''' Bush replied that that was why America needed the leadership of Wallis and other members of the clergy. ''No, Mr. President,'' Wallis says he told Bush, ''We need your leadership on this question, and all of us will then commit to support you. Unless we drain the swamp of injustice in which the mosquitoes of terrorism breed, we'll never defeat the threat of terrorism.'' Bush looked quizzically at the minister, Wallis recalls. They never spoke again after that.

- The [Bush] aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

- Every few months, a report surfaces of the president using strikingly Messianic language, only to be dismissed by the White House. Three months ago, for instance, in a private meeting with Amish farmers in Lancaster County, Pa., Bush was reported to have said, ''I trust God speaks through me.'' In this ongoing game of winks and nods, a White House spokesman denied the president had specifically spoken those words, but noted that ''his faith helps him in his service to people.''

- ''This issue,'' he says, of Bush's ''announcing that 'I carry the word of God' is the key to the election. The president wants to signal to the base with that message, but in the swing states he does not.''

- Remember, this is consent, informed by the heart and by the spirit. In the end, Bush doesn't have to say he's ordained by God. After a day of speeches by Hardy Billington and others, it goes without saying. ''To me, I just believe God controls everything, and God uses the president to keep evil down, to see the darkness and protect this nation,'' Billington told me, voicing an idea shared by millions of Bush supporters...''

- The president, listing priorities for his second term, placed near the top of his agenda the expansion of federal support for faith-based institutions. The president talked at length about giving the initiative the full measure of his devotion and said that questions about separation of church and state were not an issue.

- That very issue is what Jim Wallis wishes he could sit and talk about with George W. Bush. That's impossible now, he says. He is no longer invited to the White House. ''Faith can cut in so many ways,'' he said. ''If you're penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves...But when it's designed to certify our righteousness -- that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There's no reflection. ''Where people often get lost is on this very point,'' he said after a moment of thought. ''Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not -- not ever -- to the thing we as humans so very much want.'' And what is that? ''Easy certainty.''


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