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You Should Never Read Just One

Oct
18
2004

A lot was made over the weekend about Ron Suskind’s cover story in The New York Times magazine. It’s a good story. Although I think the argument that’s surely being made on the “other side” – something along the lines of “What can you expect from a bunch of atheists in New York?” – picked up a few more rounds of ammo.
Don’t get me wrong, Suskind is right to (again) point out how Bush’s religious devotion colors his world view. But that’s not all that’s going on with this White House and with this president. And the easy anti-religious tone that many on this side of the argument – “What can you expect from a bunch of Bible thumpers in Hellhole, Texas?” – has newfound fuel, too.


More reading is in order. Nicholas Lemann has an equally good Bush profile in The New Yorker’s politics issue which is just as worth of attention and discussion. It’s a look at how Bush’s social class and his attitude toward that class has colored his behavior as president. Read both stories – and this interview with Lemann – and a chill makes it way down your spine.
It’s the combination of belief in elites — social and religious — that’s so deadly, so dangerous. Bush’s insecurity about his own abilities, his belief that his faith will help him conquer those insecurities as well as a religious and class-fostered ideas about the perception of weakness and leadership have created a man who would have made a perfectly fine — if somewhat ineffectual — president during peace. In crisis, he is a disaster relying, lazily and in fear – fear of the unknown, fear of being seen as fearful, fear of fear – on his feelings and beliefs about how the thinks the world works or how he believes it should work.
It’s worth remembering that George Bush is not alone in how he looks at the world. The U.S. – the West – is part-way through an almost epic series of changes: upheaval created by the growing acceptance of feminism and gay rights, economic changes caused by the prospering of nations once labeled “developing,” now close to being developed, social changes created by our ability to communicate with one another instantly, to know each other intimately without ever meeting or speaking.
All of these things have repercussions we are only starting to understand and it is in times like this when people turn to religion, particularly religion that promises steadfast relief from change and the unknown. The conservative faiths of this culture are reflected – and reflect – the conservative faiths of others. They have, in many respects, the same root sources. For many people, that makes George Bush an attractive candidate. Which is – since he may still be re-elected – something to remember. Because it is as much a statement of how the party of Progress – that’d be the Democrats – haven’t figured out how to lead in these times.
But if it’s an Astros-Redsox series (that’s Texas v. Massachusetts, for you football fans) we will have addition evidence — besides Florida getting pounded by hurricanes — for those of you who do believe to think that the Almighty is, in fact, a Democrat.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:13 AM | Permalink

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