Bush as angelic cult figure

Village Voice regular Rick Perlstein tells us of his encounters with a strange and unshakable cult — true believers who know in their hearts and minds that george w. bush is Christ-like, incapable of sin or error, worshippers who, when faced with facts that may prove otherwise, simply block them out.

It brings to mind the reverence the Chinese once held for Chairman Mao, or the way North Koreans are taught to revere their Dear and Great Leaders, lapping up the nonsense of their ability to move mountains and reshape the universe. The sentimental idiocy of this movement is breathtaking, and as Perlstein notes, their unyielding hero worship keeps them well divorced from reality, helping to propel American conservatism in a new and unhealthy direction.

For the faithful, there are lots of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; no one high up ever knew of any memo licensing torture of prisoners; bush can’t be blamed for the deficits, and he always speaks honestly. Perlstein describes his attendance at a surreal “Party for the President,” one of many such events organized by the bush campaign, a kind of love-fest that includes a call-in from Laura bush and a lot of starry eyed reverence. Perlstein asks why they so adore our preznit.

Ponytailed Larry, who wears the stripes of a former marine gunnery sergeant on his floppy hat, bursts into laughter; it’s too obvious to take seriously. “Honesty. Truth. Integrity,” he says upon recovering. “I don’t think there’s any difference between the governor of Texas and the president of the United States.”

Gingerly, I offer one difference: The governor ran for president on a platform of balanced budgets, then ran the federal budget straight into the red.

Responds Larry (of the first president since James Garfield with a Congress compliant enough never to issue a single veto): “Well, it’s interesting that we blame the person who happens to be president for the deficit. As if he has any control over the legislature of the United States.”

Larry’s wife, Tami Mars, the Republican congressional nominee for Oregon’s third district, proposes a Divine Right of Eight-Year Terms: “Let the man finish what he started. Instead of switching out his leadership—because that’s what the terrorists are expecting.”

Larry is asked what he thinks of Bush’s budget cuts for troops in the field. He’s not with Bush on everything: “I hope he reverses himself on that.”

I note that he already has, due to Democratic pressure.

Faced with an existential impossibility—giving the Democrats credit for anything—he retreats into a retort I’ll hear again and again tonight: Nobody’s perfect. “I don’t think we’re going to find a situation in which we find a person with which we’re 100 percent comfortable.”

The article offers insights to the confused and out-of-touch liberal like myself, who struggles to get into the heads of the die-hard bush worshippers. Hearing them live and in person is illuminating and disturbing. They really do see our tongue-tied, frightened, helpless little leader as angelic. They even buy bush kitsch reminiscent of the Mao memorabilia sold everywhere in China.

It’s important to know what people in America are thinking, especially those whose beliefs are farthest from your own. I just wish it didn’t have to be this depressing. If they see bush as God, will they not see Kerry as the Antichrist and seek to undermine him after he’s elected? I sure hope not.

“Read the whole thing,” as bloggers like to say; there’s a lot more there.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

Bush is not God.

Lance Armstrong is.

July 23, 2004 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

Lance Armstrong — he’s the guy who rides a bicycle, right? In FRANCE, no less!

July 23, 2004 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

We have such Angels who can do no wrong, and their acolytes in virtually every country.

You know that saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time, some people all the time ……………. I’ll stop here, because voila! we have identified the 2nd group.

July 23, 2004 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

It’s important to know what people in America are thinking, especially those whose beliefs are farthest from your own”

You don’t actually believe this is most American’s thinking do you? There is a nut in crowd.

“Ponytailed Larry”

That says it all.

July 24, 2004 @ 3:36 am | Comment

“The protective encirclement of her head by President Bush’s arm and hand is the essence of fatherly compassion,” Freeper luvbach1 writes…

So, there we have it — a genuine Bush personality cult. Bush as Father of the Nation, just like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Saddam Hussein, Sapir Niyazov (Turkmenbashi) and the rest of them.

July 24, 2004 @ 5:00 am | Comment

Rolling Stone? That’s kind of a Washington Times for the grey pony-tail set, right?

But seriously, I read your excerpt again, and it shows a guy who’s largely in favor of his candidate, even to an irrational extent, yet confesses that he’s not 100% comfortable with him. Sounds eerily like supporters of almost any candidate, and I imagine you’ll find wild and crazy examples of similar in the Kerry camp as well as Bush. In fact, Bush’s opponents have gone far in deifying him (in a satanic way) already.

I’ve seen much more powerful examples of Partisan Derangement Syndrome already this year on both sides. Maybe the article has better examples, if I’d bother to read the whole thing as you suggested.

July 24, 2004 @ 7:38 am | Comment

Sam_S, I recommend reader the part about the veneration of Bush images at FreeRepublic, which does appear to go beyond normal enthusiasm for a candidate:

“Freepers” display and study the famous photograph of Bush embracing Ashley Faulkner, whose mother perished on 9-11, a woeful, iconic look on his face (“The protective encirclement of her head by President Bush’s arm and hand is the essence of fatherly compassion,” Freeper luvbach1 writes); the ladies exchange snaps of the president in resolute pose, rendering up racy comments about his sexiness; they reference an image of Bush jogging alongside a soldier wounded in Iraq like it’s a Xerox of his very soul. “He’s the kind of guy who’s going to remember to call a soldier who’s lost a leg,” one citizen of the Free Republic reflects, “and go jogging with him when he gets a replacement prosthetic.” Revering Bush has become, for people like this, a defining component of conservative ideology.

(emphasis mine)

July 24, 2004 @ 8:10 am | Comment

David, thank you.

I wanted to include more snips froim the article but was afraid the post was already too long. Sam, read it all, and you’ll see it’s not ordinary enthusiasm, it’s a true personality cult with heavy religious overtones.

July 24, 2004 @ 10:49 am | Comment

Why do you even post this biased trash?

July 26, 2004 @ 8:06 am | Comment

Daily Reminder:

Only freaks support Bush.
So much hate, so little time for some people.

July 26, 2004 @ 8:17 am | Comment

Mark, I post it because I have worried for a couple years about Bush being lionized and sainted after 911 in a manner inconsistent with his actual achievements. It is a real and significant motivating force in American politics today and it needs to be understood by anyone trying to assess what’s going on in the country. Go hang out in the LGF comments and you see this kind of gushing praise of our shrub; articles like this tell me it’s a nationwide phenomenon, at least among a certain demographic of voters.

July 26, 2004 @ 8:17 am | Comment

1971 = 18 = 9.
Thus, 666 = 9 = 18 = 1971.

Born 9/18/1971 – Lance Armstrong

October 7, 2004 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

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