Saturday, February 01, 2003

The Bush Apocalypso

Here's a piece everyone should read, from The Progressive:

Bush's Messiah Complex

A picture emerges from the President's public statements--and even from such adulatory accounts as Bob Woodward's Bush at War and David Frum's The Right Man--of a President on a divine mission.

Call it messianic militarism.

He may have discarded the word "crusade," but it's a crusade that he's on. As former Bush speechwriter Frum puts it, "War has made him . . . a crusader after all."

While there's nothing wrong with a President trying to make the world a better place, when the man in the Oval Office feels divinely inspired to reshape the world through violent means, that's a scary prospect.


"Bush is very much into the apocalyptic and messianic thinking of militant Christian evangelicals," [Chip Berlet] says. "He seems to buy into the worldview that there is a giant struggle between good and evil culminating in a final confrontation. People with that kind of a worldview often take risks that are inappropriate and scary because they see it as carrying out God's will."


"What I hear is a holy trinity of militarism, masculinism, and messianic zeal," says Lee Quinby, professor of American Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. "It does follow the logic of apocalyptic thought, which has a religious base but is now secularized in the militaristic mode. Apocalyptic thought always has an element of instilling helplessness and promising victory in the face of that powerlessness. In this instance, Bush plays up the vulnerability we feel because of terrorism or Saddam Hussein and then accentuates the military as the assurance that our helplessness will be transformed." This kind of thinking, says Quinby, is "dangerous because it prepares a nation for war without thinking about the impact on civilians and on the U.S. soldiers."


This is way too much power to give to anyone, and George W. Bush has the arrogance that comes with such power. "I do not need to explain why I say things," he told Woodward. "That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

When his crusade goes terribly wrong, as it is likely to do, Bush will owe a lot of people an explanation.

I'm predicting he will refuse to give it. This is, after all, the "Who cares what you think?" president. And when pressed, he and his cohorts seem likely to resort to the kind of thuggery we saw in Florida, but probably amplified.

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