Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Psychoanalyzing George W.

Since "psychologizing" about the people closest and dearest to us can often lead to broken crockery and separate vacations, it's much safer to psychoanalyze complete strangers, and it's in that sporting spirit that we report to you some MUST reading on George W. in the most recent Village Voice.

If for no other reason but to discover THIS singular factoid ... that at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Professor Bruce Lincoln currently teaches a class called "The Theology of George W. Bush." Bizarre, yes, but revealing. The "theology" that is, which started, apparently, when the young, alcoholic wastrel threw himself before the altar of God and cleaned himself up in the mid 1980s. According to Rick Perlstein, the first book of the Bible the future president immersed himself in was the New Testament's Acts of the Apostles, which Professor Lincoln points out is all about "missionizing, evangelizing, spreading the faith. It's not end-of-the-world stuff. It's expansionist -- it's religious imperialism, if you will. And I think that remains his primary orientation."

Plus the Bush family folklore itself suggests that George W. feels that God Himself chose him to the president. (I heard callers talking about this yesterday morning on C-SPAN, and had to locate this article!) When you're anointed by God, it gives you a certain assurance that you're doing the right thing (which his opponents read as smug arrogance and his supporters read as the Divine Light, so you can see where disagreement on this central point might ultimately lead us to the holy war that Pastor Pat Robertson so devoutly prays for). God may have chosen the man, but it may take an army of Christian crusaders stoning abortionists and "secularists" in the street to really institute the Kingdom of God on earth. (And apparently it was the hand of God working through the heavily made up Katherine Harris that intervened in Florida in 2000 to disenfrancise black ballots.)

But we digress.

Of course we know it from any random listening to 30 minutes of calls on C-SPAN on any given morning that a portion of the U.S. populace is deeply invested in this president on the basis of his supposedly being "a good moral man and a Christian." Their faith is both blinding and invigorating. They'll simultaneously follow him (Him) through the fiery furnace and welcome the cleansing of those flames. They'll make bold to decry the infidels in their midst, who are bound to Satan and wish for the destruction of all that is good and holy (the United States) ... that is to say, Democrats. Beware, O Evil-Doers, wherever you are! Doubt not, Christian brethren, that the Kingdom of God is at hand!

And doubting not is precisely where we find our president these days. Which is the mystery that sets off Rick Perlstein on a search for answers in this article ... why the president is so preternaturally calm as his policies and decisions whirl out of control in Iraq. Perlstein describes a Christian website,, "through which 2.8 million members receive daily instructions on how to coordinate prayer for the president. I don't know about you, but if I had 2.8 million people advertising the fact that they were praying for my well-being every day -- and, to boot, if I actually believed that prayer worked -- I'd feel pretty damned relaxed, too."

And there's no discussion possible under these conditions, and where there is no discusion -- only blind faith -- there's no democracy either.

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