One people, one God, one president

Now this is noteworthy. The man who said the following is no flaming liberal. To the contrary, he is a former Reagan aide and a writer for National Review Online, one Bruce Bartlett:

Just in the past few months, 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. 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. This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts. He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. But you can’t run the world on faith.

So bush is just like an Al Qaeda terrorist, wild-eyed and ready to kill. He is on a mission from God, and there’s no stopping him. He’s kickin’ butt and takin’ names cuz, you know, freedom’s on the march. We know that — but hearing it from someone on the other side is interesting. It’s one of many interesting revelations from an absolutely astounding article by Ron Suskind, which is going to be the talk of the town over the next few days.

What you’ll come away with after reading this massive piece is just how seriously shrub’s followers are when they equate him with Jesus Christ — and how he actively encourages such adulation.

George W. Bush and his team have constructed a high-performance electoral engine. The soul of this new machine is the support of millions of likely voters, who judge his worth based on intangibles — character, certainty, fortitude and godliness — rather than on what he says or does. The deeper the darkness, the brighter this filament of faith glows, a faith in the president and the just God who affirms him.

The leader of the free world is clearly comfortable with this calculus and artfully encourages it. In the series of televised, carefully choreographed ”Ask President Bush” events with supporters around the country, sessions filled with prayers and blessings, one questioner recently summed up the feelings of so many Christian conservatives, the core of the Bush army. ”I’ve voted Republican from the very first time I could vote,” said Gary Walby, a retired jeweler from Destin, Fla., as he stood before the president in a crowded college gym. ”And I also want to say this is the very first time that I have felt that God was in the White House.” Bush simply said ”thank you” as a wave of raucous applause rose from the assembled.

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.”

God speaks to him. So how can he ever do something wrong or make a mistake?

I’ve read a lot of stuff on our president, but this takes its place at the top of the Scariest Articles list. I have a deep aversion to cults of any kind, and I honestly never thought I’d see the day America would be in the throes of a cult leader. You can get away with anything once you’ve established a personality cult, as Mao and Stalin and others learned. No, he’s not Mao or Stalin (yet), but that sense of infallibility, that providence has brought him to this place of leadership so he can carry out the will of a higher being — that’s well documented.

The artilce is loaded with mind-blowing soundbites, things that would have seemed flat-out bizarre in other times, but in bushworld it’s simply the way followers talk.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The 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.

Us against them. Like the Bolsheviks against the Kulaks, like Mao against the Rightists. I really don’t like it, and I hope this creepy and important article serves as a wake-up call, a splash of ice water in the face of the moderate Republicans who want to believe that, just as the moderates did in 1933, that the crazy little man on a mission will just be a passing fad, soon to be replaced by more moderate and sane politicians. Only by the time they realize just how serious the crazed little man really is, it may well be too late.

Via Mark Kleiman.

The Discussion: 49 Comments

What Bush doesn’t seem willing to understand is that there are a lot of ordinary people caught up in between the extremists and America, they are not heartless killers or crazed zeolots. They can be turned back from the path of terrorism and fundimentalism and they can be reasoned with.

Poverty and anger have combined with US agression to turn civilised educated people into easy fodder for recruiters.

If the US had reached out to the Muslim world ten years ago and had stopped labeling and started helping, then they wouldn’t be in this mess.

There are one or two simple things that come up every time, and the US has sat back and done nothing on one of them, and has stepped up the other, in contratiction to its own belief of self determination and freedom.

America is the only nation in the modern world that has extended its self serving reach across the globe. Tojo Hibiki would be proud. History has come full circle.

October 16, 2004 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

This article is nothing new to many of us. I know a lot of people who have been terrified ever since Bush was appointed of the increasing influence of fundamentalist Christianity on American politics. And I think Michael Moore picked up on this aspect of his personality when he was making Fahrenheit 911- take another look at the clips of Bush in action. The majority of them show a jock who craves and actively seeks to be the centre of attention. Those shots of Bush playing golf scared me as much as the look of dumbfounded stupidity as he read ‘My Pet Goat’, and almost as much as the sheer emptiness of his eyes as he announced the invasion of Iraq. This is a man who has always sought to build a personality cult. The only difference is that since he was appointed president, the danger of such a cult has been magnified ten thousand times. People such as him are all but harmless (on a global scale) when their cult is confined to their own backyard and their circle of friends. But as you pointed out, we already know how dangerous they can be when allowed real power.

The world needs him out of the White House.

October 16, 2004 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

Oh, that’s just cause you’re “reality-based” people. Give up on reality and there’s nothing to worry about…

Yeah, this article had me reaching for the tequila at 10 AM…

October 16, 2004 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

And this guy is king of the world, the most powerful man in the entire history of the planet. And God talks to him.

October 16, 2004 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

In your heart, you know he’s right.

They’re terrorists, fundamentalists, and can’t be reasoned with … because logic, reasoning and religion do not go together.

I just sent in my absentee ballot. I felt part of the process. Snort, like it matters in our state.

October 17, 2004 @ 12:22 am | Comment

This is great stuff, Richard.

Have you heard of David Domke? He’s a communications prof from Univ. of WA that recently came to speak at my campus. I had class during the lecture, but his topic was Bush abusing religious language for political gain. I think it ruffled a lot of peoples’ feathers here on my Christian campus, but its something people need to hear about.

October 17, 2004 @ 12:56 am | Comment


Actually most of them aren’t fundimentalists they’re just angry, and even the fundamentalists can be reasoned with, you’ve just got to use the right methods, which Bush isn’t. If you hit them they will hit back, if you negotiate with them peacfully then they will resipricate. Only America isn’t willing to give any ground on any issue right now.

Muslim anger comes down two a few basic issues and fundamentalism is fueled by hoplessness and poverty.

Address these basic issues and then try to raise their standard of living and you’ve taken away their anger. When you do this they will still be fundamentalists but they won’t hate you.

America and Islam can co exist, just Europe and Islam are.

Britain is a coelition partner, but you don’t see Saudis burning their flag do you.

Don’t believe people who say Islam is anti freedom and anti democracy, Europe for example is packed with peace loving, voting, and above all good, Muslims. They can be just as fundementalist as the ones in the middle east but they’re not violant.

October 17, 2004 @ 2:36 am | Comment


In my guts, I know he’s nuts.

October 17, 2004 @ 2:44 am | Comment

ACB, there isnt a peaceful coalition of Islam and Europe. This is a new type of war, where the old allies and old enemies will be totally swapped. Don’t be surprised to see the US aligned with Russia and China in this fight.

Vaara, yah, I trotted out the old Goldwater line, and you came back with the Johnson line. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m mostly just trying to drive up Richard’s blood pressure with that quote.

Grandmaster, cut faster.

October 17, 2004 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Well, you only partially succeeded, Jeremy, because I know someone as smart as you can’t really forgive bush his excesses, and his selling his soul to the fundamentalists.

The hard-core Al Qaeda types at this point cannot be reasoned with (just as you can’t reason with a Bible-thumping wingnut in Montana who believes gays should be stoned to death in the public square). But our current course of action is a sure-fire formula for radicalizing the moderate Muslims and turning them into Al Qaeda recruits. Witness the difference between the Iraqis attitude toward us as we marched into Baghdad in 2003 and their attitude today. We’ve become fertilizer for Al Qaeda, growing terrorists and fanatics everywhere we go, because we enter as arrogant exploiters more interested in taking their oil than giving them drinking water. That’s not to say that many of the things we’ve done in Iraq aren’t noble and good and worthy; they are. But we made too many blunders along the way, especially at the start of the occupation, to ever win their hearts and minds. Mission: Failed. Status: Unsalvageable.

October 17, 2004 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

Logic, reasoning and religion do not go together.

Do us all a favor, Jeremy: Embroider this statement of yours on a sampler. Or, just print it out using a pretty font, then put in a nice frame.

Then hang it on a wall where you can look at it every single time Li’l George makes yet another addled decision based on his special relationship with God.

Seriously, did you forget to engage your brain before posting that? Or do you really believe that Li’l George stands foursquare for the forces of “logic and reasoning” and against religion?

Good Lord.

October 17, 2004 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

From the .be URL, I will guess you are in Belgium.

Hmmm, the EU’s most racist nation.

‘Nuff said.

October 17, 2004 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Making generalizations about a person you don’t know based on their nationality (or gender, or race, etc.) is a clear indicator of a racist (sexist/xenophobic) individual, in my experience.

October 17, 2004 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Richard, dude, is it just me or are you getting more paranoid and, dare I say it, delusional, by the day?

I mean, I hate Bush for his stupidity as much as the next guy, but this is far, far over the top.

History will remember Bush as a stupid and inc *ompetent man. It will not remember him as a cultist bent on bringing about the Second Coming.

Incidentally, I just noticed that ‘inco*mpetent’, when spelt as a single word, is on the banned word list. How very strange.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:16 am | Comment

“the EU’s most racist nation”

WTF? have you done a survey or something?

Anyway, as it happens I’m not in Belgium, but what possible difference does it make anyway? And in any case, I’m a U.S. citizen. There are those who would accuse me of being a racist on that basis alone, but surely you wouldn’t be among them.

To get back to the subject at hand, before you so cravenly changed it: Why do you seem to believe, in the face of all available evidence, that Li’l George is a paragon of “logic and reasoning” and is the only thing saving us from theocracy?

If you’d been paying even the slightest bit of attention, you’d realize just how absurd that belief is.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:18 am | Comment

If Bush is a cultist, hope Halley’s Comet comes around soon – please! I’ll supply the purple blanket.

October 18, 2004 @ 4:25 am | Comment

Example, I didn’t write the article. It says bush believes God talks throuhg him. And that his followers are creating a new “reality” around him Did you read it?

October 18, 2004 @ 8:01 am | Comment

“So bush is just like an Al Qaeda terrorist”

Aren’t these your words, Richard?

October 18, 2004 @ 9:25 am | Comment

“Us against them. Like the Bolsheviks against the Kulaks, like Mao against the Rightists”.

Richard, terrorists are bolsheviks (not us), terrorists are Mao (not us).
Really haven’t you still got it?

October 18, 2004 @ 9:30 am | Comment

Great Vaara, you’re an American living in Europe. I’m sure you aren’t influenced at all by the Anti-American sentiment that is rampant in the EU.

As for your other point – no where do I write that Bush is the paragon of logic and reasoning. I did write that we’re dealing with fundamentalism, which does not work on reasoning or logic.

But, I would rather have someone that believes this is a crusade rather than someone that thinks that these people can be negotiated with.

October 18, 2004 @ 9:30 am | Comment

I’m sure you aren’t influenced at all by the Anti-American sentiment that is rampant in the EU.

Just as you are surely not influenced at all by the anti-American sentiment that is rampant in China.

we’re dealing with fundamentalism”

Yes, we certainly are.

October 18, 2004 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Jeremy, you are really becoming overbearing. Can you cut the crap, please?

October 18, 2004 @ 10:26 am | Comment

And when did Kerry ever say he wants to negotiate with the terrorists and not kill them? Link, please.

October 18, 2004 @ 10:27 am | Comment

Frank, you miss the whole point. Completely. I am saying the way these people are talking in this article reflects exactly to the letter the way they did of Stalin and Mao! Get it? In their minds, it is us agianst them and they say so in so many words. They are the Bolsheviks, they are the Maoists, fighting the common enemy. Think about it.

October 18, 2004 @ 10:29 am | Comment

“So bush is just like an Al Qaeda terrorist”

Aren’t these your words, Richard?

Frank, I don’t know who you are but you sure need to read more carefully. I didn’t make the assertion — the guy I was quoting did!

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.

Wake up and get the shingles off your eyes.

October 18, 2004 @ 10:33 am | Comment

Andrew Sullivan today writes about the Suskind article:

“Okay, so I know the piece was supposed to scare the living daylights out of anyone not already enrolled in Liberty University, but I was a little alarmed nonetheless. The good news is that Bush seems genuine about tax reform and social security privatization in his second term. Here’s hoping. The bad news is that he thinks he’s Moses. But what Suskind does innovatively capture is an evolution in Bush over the past four years. Remember the open-minded, engaged, querulous figure from 2000? We got a glimpse of him in the third debate, which may account for his blip upwards in the polls. But what you get increasingly from the president is an arrogance and contempt for critics that is bordering on dangerous. You saw this in the first debate when Bush looked genuinely shocked to hear anyone voicing criticism of his policies in his presence. That obviously hadn’t happened in a very long time. You see this in the thuggish ways in which opponents are removed from campaign events, jailed and fired from their jobs. You realize eventually that Bush’s cabinet is actually a royal court, in which criticism is simply treachery. In the broader political world, you’re either with this president in everything he does or you are a traitor, an unbeliever, a leftist, and an enabler of terror. That’s how Bush sees the world. And he wonders why he has left this country even more divided than when he found it.”

October 18, 2004 @ 10:54 am | Comment

Vaara, I’m not in China. Never been to China. Probably going in 2 years, though, but not before then.

Richard, you always ask me to post comments on your blog, and now I am becoming overbearing? Can’t cut it both ways.

And, no, I don’t have a link handy where Kerry has said he’d negotitate with terrorists. I am extrapolating.

October 18, 2004 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Richard, I don’t know who you are but if you quote an article like that with comments like those, then I suppose you endorse it.
If I’m wrong, I apologize.

Terrorists are evil. Not George Bush. Wake up. I’m not saying you should vote for him. I’m only saying you should be a little more serious in your criticism. Comparing Bush to Osama is not serious and it’s not the best way to win an election. Hate won’t win elections. And even if it will, it will be a bad thing for everyone. Surprising you don’t get it.
You’re a smart guy, don’t be paranoic.

October 18, 2004 @ 11:31 am | Comment

Jeremy: I apologize. I vaguely remembered you writing something about mailing an absentee ballot and/or being in China. Apparently I “misremembered,” as our glorious God-appointed President might say.

But if I may, one final question:

Did you even read the Suskind article?

October 18, 2004 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Frank, this is from the NY Times magazine and it’s the talk of the Internet. That doesn’t necessarily make it true, but don’t kill the messenger. Bush says God talks through him. People who know bush well, Republicans, say he is on a Messianic mission and that he has adopted the very traits of the fundamentalists he is fighting. I, too, believe these things, not out of paranoia but based on hard evidence that is chronicled and documentd on this blog every day, and thousands of others.

I never, ever said bush is evil. I hate him, but I don’t think he is evil. The terrorists are indeed the enemy, but not the only enemy. When a man declares war needlessly and never admits mistakes and in so doing leads to the deaths of tens of thousands and the depletion of our treasury, and when that same man uses thuggish tactics to prevent the disenfranchized from voting, that man too is an enemy of mine. Not on the level of Osama or Hitler. But bush is not my friend and I’ll do whatever I can, within the law, to get him ousted.

October 18, 2004 @ 11:40 am | Comment

Vaara – yeppers, I read the article. Even printed it out, to kill a tree.

I re-read what I wrote, to make sure I’m not being misunderstood, which I am sure I am, because the nuances in the written word are usually lost.

I used the Goldwater line: in your heart, you know he’s right …. because, I love that man, and he was right.

Do I think Bush is right? Nope. Do I think is religious fervor is good for the country? Nope.

Do I like Kerry? Nope. Do I think he will do a better job for the country? Nope.

Do I think it’s a choice between lesser evils, though? Yep. Do I think the election is going to have an amazing turnout? Yep.

Can you tell who I voted for with my postings? Nope, not at all.

October 18, 2004 @ 11:48 am | Comment

Jeremy, I like you to comment, but always comment in favor of Kerry and against bush — clear? As for your “extrapolating,” I can only say that is pure invention and not at all reality-based. Remember, this is a reality-based community.

October 18, 2004 @ 11:55 am | Comment

Pro-Kerry only.

You did pick up a love for censorship in China, huh?

October 18, 2004 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

OK then.

Let me just state categorically that I agree with those who feel that the comparisons between Bush and bin-Laden are completely ludicrous.

Osama bin-Laden is a devoutly religious man who never touches alcohol, and whose Holy Book is the cornerstone of his political philosophy. He and his fervent followers literally believe that he was chosen by God to lead his people against the enemy. He’s a scion of one of his country’s most prominent families, which helped him to gain ownership of several highly lucrative business ventures. To this day, he retains close personal and financial ties to the Saudi รฉlite. And he is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

He is thus, in every possible way, the complete polar opposite of George W. Bush. Who, as we all know, is a vodka-swilling atheist bon vivant and a committed pacifist, one who pulled himself up from abject poverty to become the leader of the greatest democracy in the world.

(and, in response to the inevitable expressions of outrage that will follow this post:

Yes, I can see the difference. Can you see the similarities?)

In conclusion: I do not wish to be ruled by either of them. So the choice is obvious: John Kerry is not George W. Bush, and he isn’t Osama bin-Laden either.

Which is why I’ve just voted for Kerry.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

Lighten up Jeremy, your comment is still there, uncensored. In China you could end up behind bars.

That said, please try to be more pro-Kerry. I’ve got enough Republican trolls to deal with as it is.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:26 pm | Comment

Vaara, did you write that yourself?? It’s great. But you’re right, my GOP friends who hangout here aren’t gonna like it.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

Why yes, as a matter of fact I did write that myself! And best of all, it’s entirely reality-based…

except for the bit about the “highly lucrative business ventures,” because of course Li’l George was a notoriously inept businessman.

October 18, 2004 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

“Jeremy, I like you to comment, but always comment in favor of Kerry and against bush — clear? ”

Are you kidding, no? Please, tell me you’re kidding…

“I hate him…”: so, you hate. Ok.

“Republican trolls”: very nice expression for people that don’t agree with you. I don’t think Kerry would have used it.

So, why do you have comments? Only to hear nice guys comparing the President of The United States to a terrorist?


October 18, 2004 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

Frank, yes I was completely kidding. Jeremy is a friend of mine for nearly 10 years (though he’s really getting on my nerves today). I get lots of anti-Kerry and pro-bush comments. I don’t delete them and I actually have some good conversations with these people. Say whatever you want — just remember, it’s my sandbox so I get the last word.

Yes, I do hate. I hate eating pre-sweetened cereal, I hate reality-based TV, I hate Communism, I hate the war in Iraq, I hate Al Qaeda, I hate soap operas, I hate Little Green Footballs, I hate Windows and all things Microsoft and I hate bush. I am a hateful man. Note, those things are not all equal; I hate Osama much more than I hate pre-sweetened cereal.

Lighten up, Frank. And vote for Kerry.

October 18, 2004 @ 1:07 pm | Comment

Vaara, it’s first-rate. Mind if I borrow it for a post sometime soon?

October 18, 2004 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

By all means.

And sorry to have offended your delicate sensibilities, Frank… but as someone who has been recently likened to a virus, a cockroach, a traitor, and a terrorist myself (because I happen to be gay, and a liberal Democrat to boot), I’m finding it really, really difficult to care.

October 18, 2004 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

Richard, you don’t like pre-sweetened cereals? Where’s the joyful childhood memories of Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, Sugar – now Honey – Combs, Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes (they’re grrrrreat). I think you need to embrace the pre-sugared cereal world.

Vaara, that is very well written, although I believe that some of Bush’s followers do think he’s the second coming of Jesus, although I personally like to put it into the conext of the Left Behind books …. he might be Satan!! (Okay, only partially joking). Oh, I did mail in an absentee ballot because there’s no parking at my polling place. Stupid high school.

And, Frank, the same goes for me and Richard. Been friends for him for years, view him as a mentor, he drives me batty when it comes to politics, but at the end of the day, he knows I support him 99 percent of the time, even as I try to raise his blood pressure for fun.

October 18, 2004 @ 3:23 pm | Comment

Thanks for straightening out the record and making clear that I’m almost always right, Jeremy. Unfortunately, Frank walked out in an indignant Republican huff and I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of him.

October 18, 2004 @ 4:08 pm | Comment

There is something vaguely un-American about not eating sugar cereals, though.

October 18, 2004 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

You’re throwing my comment thread off-topic. I gave up almost all foods processed with sugar nearly 20 years ago, although I cheat at times to satisfy my craving for vanilla ice cream.

October 18, 2004 @ 5:16 pm | Comment

Instead I think that we could see something more of you than a resentful Bush-hater.

I’ve already told you: you are great at chinese issues but you lose your mind at internal ones. There are many ways to express your criticism against Bush administration: you’ve chosen the silliest one. Perhaps it’ also the easiest one but… what a pity (anyway you’re not alone).

Think about that: I could accept a Bush’s defeat without any trouble; instead you won’t calmly accept a Kerry’s defeat. We both believe in democracy, I’m sure. But you hate a president of a democratic nation, I don’t. I don’t envy you.

October 19, 2004 @ 8:13 am | Comment

Frank, we see things differently, accept it. A president has to earn my respect, as bush did after 911. Then the shrub lost it again. I gave him a chance, I waited with an open mind. Now I am doing my share to get him dethroned (can’t say unelected cuz he was never elected; he was illegitimate from day one). I am doing many other things aside from blogging to help Kwrry win, so don’t say things you know nothing about. I appreciate your readership and your comments, but it’s time for you to realize you’re not gonna change my attitude toward our stuttering princeling.

October 19, 2004 @ 10:00 am | Comment

I don’t want to change your attitude. I only would like not to read in a weblog I admire for many reasons comparisons like “Bush=Bin Laden” or assumptions like “Bush was never elected”. You’re an intelligent person, you can do much better.

October 19, 2004 @ 10:37 am | Comment

Sorry, I don’t believe he was elected, and I’m not alone. You know he lost the popular vote, and that he won only because the Supreme Court voted along partisan lines in its most controversial decision in decades. Anyway, let’s just agree to disagree because we aren’t going to change the other’s mind.

October 19, 2004 @ 10:53 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.