Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Dec/08

29

Faith & George W. Bush

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Austin Bramwell, He Still Believes:

Bush’s admirers credit him with political courage on par with Lincoln’s. Lincoln, of course, hated the “terrible war” that he felt his duty to wage. “Fondly do we hope,” Lincoln intoned, “fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.” Does Bush similarly hate the evils that his policies have caused? It may seem strange that any man should dare to ask the question. Yet according to Bush, the purest test of a leader is the ability to remain an idealist in the face of every calamity. Without the evils that his policies have caused, therefore, Bush could never have made the principled stands that he himself regards as the “big moments” of his presidency. Bush’s idealism, in short, means that he’s not just indifferent to the evil consequences of his actions but positively welcomes them as proofs of his commitment to idealism. In Bush’s mind, the our very failures in Iraq have shown how he has gloriously withstood the test of leadership. For all that other presidents have also claimed the mantle of righteousness, an idealism as fanatical as Bush’s has never been seen before.

One of the main points which my liberal friends have a hard time grasping is the conservative anger at George W. Bush for not being a conservative. Faith and hope are important human traits, and pure rationality leads to a sterile and indecisive existence (as evidenced in António Damásio‘s work). But all things in modest measures. One can not know the mind of a man, but on many an occasion I have wondered as to the similarity between the cosmic visions of liberal audacity and George W. Bush’s belief that if he believes it is so, it is so.

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13 comments

  • Fred · December 29, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    The quote below is very accurate, but leaves out the very important element of the apocalyptic.

    Finally, Bush’s celebrated idealism—a president, he says, should “never substitute pragmatism for an idealistic vision”—really is unprecedented. The standard critique of idealists is that they are heedless of the actual consequences of their actions. As Weber put it, “If an action of good intent leads to bad results, then, in the actor’s eyes, not he but the world, or the stupidity of other men, or God’s will who made them thus, is responsible for the evil.” Hence, idealists to this day accept no blame for the horrors of revolutionary socialism, for their intention were always noble. Likewise, Bush will never accept blame for the bloodbath caused by the invasion if Iraq. On the contrary! Weber observed that the idealist invariably becomes a “chiliastic prophet”—that is, when confronted with the evil consequences of his actions, he rationalizes them by saying that eventually all evils will be vanquished.

    I am from the South and am quite familiar with Evangelicals. Even those who do not adamantly toe the inerrantist line take the book of Revelation very seriously. Millions believe that they are living in the “Last Days” and millions more at least allow the possibility (given the curse at the end of Revelation they cannot deny it).

    GWB has said more than a few things that indicate he certainly would not deny it. Given that frame of mind, pragmatism is not allowed. I don’t think he’s worried about the history that a typical college professor would write.

    I think most folks who do not really know any Southern Evangelicals fail to appreciate the extent to which the apocalyptic permeates the “Church-going” culture.

  • mtraven · December 29, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Oh please. Conservatives are displeased with George Bush because he’s a dismal failure, not because of any ideological impurity. How many of the people angry at him now opposed the Iraq war in 2003? (answer: a few, but a tiny minority of those who identify with or lead the conservative movement).

  • Author comment by David Hume · December 29, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    How many of the people angry at him now opposed the Iraq war in 2003?

    Well, very few people opposed that war aside from the far Left. The key isn’t opposed then, it is admitting that it was a mistake, and cutting losses.

  • mtraven · December 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    David Hume :

    David Hume

    Well, very few people opposed that war aside from the far Left.

    Huh? Over 150 members of Congress voted against the 2002 resolution to go to war with Iraq. If you think all of them (or any of them, actually) are from the “far Left”, then your view of reality is seriously skewed from mine.

    Since I know you like graphs, check these out. What they show is that almost no conservatives in Congress opposed the war, while many liberal/progressives did.

  • mnuez · December 29, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    David, that’s not REMOTELY how the neo-paleoconservatives phrase it. They describe the Iraq debacle as having been planned, promoted and carried out entirely by a small gang of fifth-column Jews who stormed Washington and traitorously ran the place to the great dismay of “true conservatives” everywhere.

    These are of course the same people who had months-long erections over the prospects of invading Iraq mind you, but when you hire an aristocratic idiot to be your military’s Commander in Chief, thus ensuring failure in any and all ensuing campaigns (of any and every type), it’s always good to have “them Jews” for a backup so that you indignantly claim to have been the pure opposer all along.

    As a wise man once predicted, “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

    Yes they will. And they’ll always be willing to switch equidean preferences when it suits them. Ideology is nothing to the masses.

  • Author comment by David Hume · December 29, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Over 150 members of Congress voted against the 2002 resolution to go to war with Iraq. If you think all of them (or any of them, actually) are from the “far Left”, then your view of reality is seriously skewed from mine.

    OK, well, I meant pundits.

    David, that’s not REMOTELY how the neo-paleoconservatives phrase it. They describe the Iraq debacle as having been planned, promoted and carried out entirely by a small gang of fifth-column Jews who stormed Washington and traitorously ran the place to the great dismay of “true conservatives” everywhere.

    Well, I’ve been called a neo-paleocon, and I wouldn’t characterize it as such.

  • ◄Dave► · December 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I was never angry at him for opening the Iraqi theater in our global war with Jihadist Islam. His gambit to try to plant the seed of Western style liberal government in the heart of Arabia, while at the same time hanging the flypaper that attracted all the Mujaheddin to fight our warriors over there, instead of our policemen over here, was certainly worth a try. His mistake was focusing too much on the WMD issue and allowing the State Department to get involved too soon.

    When the diplomats have failed and we must resort to war, they should be locked in their offices in Foggy Bottom and their food shoved under their doors until the enemy has been vanquished. It was Paul Bremer, with the rush to craft a Federal Constitution, and turn sovereignty back over to an elected government too soon, which was the biggest mistake.

    That and failing to keep the American Public engaged and supportive of the mission from the bully pulpit, which gave his political enemies free rein to pummel him mercilessly with the “Bush Lied” meme. This is where his idealistic certainty that he was “doing the right thing” got him in the most trouble. He failed conservatives big-time, by not defending himself and our mission vociferously.

    The areas where conservatives are dissatisfied with Bush are not over the Iraqi Theater. His biggest sin was supporting amnesty and not closing our Southern Border, once the magnitude of the Illegal Alien invasion was known. He deserved to be impeached for dereliction of his Constitutional duty for that alone.

    The SPP agreement, to create the North American Union, was a globalist inspired travesty, which threatens our very sovereignty. The Medicare Drugs fiasco is anything but conservative. Conservatives didn’t want “No Child Left Behind,” they wanted to get Washington completely out of Public Schools.

    His refusal to veto a single pork-laden bill from Congress, no matter how egregious, is not the way to prove oneself a conservative. Now, bailing out the bankers and autoworkers unions is a final straw. The man may be an idealist; but he sure isn’t a conservative… on balance, I would put him to the Left of JFK. ◄Dave►

  • Kevembuangga · December 30, 2008 at 12:08 am

    From a bit afar (Europe) it is difficult to see Bush as anything but deeply retarded or a Manchurian Candidate of some sort.
    Oh! Well… let’s relax with the War Nerd: Bush Fought The Wars And The Wars Won. :-)

  • edmund · December 30, 2008 at 6:37 am

    The greatest American short story in the opinion of Irving Howe was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Ethan Brand,” precisely attacking a life solely based on rationality and the intellect. Brand ends up as dust. Powerful story that complements this blog entry.

  • mtraven · December 30, 2008 at 8:47 am

    ◄Dave► :

    ◄Dave►

    His gambit to try to plant the seed of Western style liberal government in the heart of Arabia, while at the same time hanging the flypaper that attracted all the Mujaheddin to fight our warriors over there, instead of our policemen over here, was certainly worth a try.

    No, it wasn’t, as numerous sane people pointed out at the time. And presidents don’t get judged by their “gambits”, but by their successes and failures. The Iraq war has been a dismal failure on almost all aspects, and the failures can be directly traced back to an extraordinary level of incompetence in the Bush administration. Deal with it.

    His mistake was focusing too much on the WMD issue and allowing the State Department to get involved too soon.

    Hahahahahaha. You must live on Bizarro World. Me Am Powerful Political Thinker!

    The State department had far less influence on the war planning and executions than the military planners and neocon cronies that made up the occupation forces. Trying to pin this debacle on them is a lame tactic that won’t fool anyone with even a glancing familiarity with the facts.

  • ◄Dave► · December 30, 2008 at 9:39 am

    One of the main points which my liberal friends have a hard time grasping is the conservative anger at George W. Bush for not being a conservative.

    The Washington Times has an article, “Exclusive: RNC draft rips Bush’s bailouts,” which addresses this issue:

    Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing “socialism,” underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush’s administration…

    “We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,” said Solomon Yue…

    In 2006, some party members presented a resolution challenging Mr. Bush’s plan to legalize illegal immigrants and enact a guest-worker program. Mr. Bush’s lieutenants fought back, arguing that the party should not tie the president’s hands on a policy issue, and the RNC capitulated, passing an alternate White House-backed resolution instead.

    This time, the backers of the new resolution say they will not be deterred by a fight, and say they have the numbers to pull off this rebellion…

    This can’t be a bad thing, and I was particularly struck by:

    “It is time the party gets involved in policy issues and forces candidates to respond to the platform,” Mr. Emineth said. “Frankly the way we view the platform is a joke. We work hard to drive our principles into the platform, then candidates ignore it.”

    “If the party doesn’t move in this direction, we will continue to be irrelevant. Whoever has the larger star power will continue to win, and what they stand for and believe will become less relevant,” Mr. Emineth said.

    Indeed. ◄Dave►

  • McNease · December 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    mtraven :

    mtraven
    Oh please. Conservatives are displeased with George Bush because he’s a dismal failure, not because of any ideological impurity. How many of the people angry at him now opposed the Iraq war in 2003? (answer: a few, but a tiny minority of those who identify with or lead the conservative movement).

    This isn’t really accurate. Most conservative thinkers have written angrily over many Bush policies contemporaneously, not in hindsight. Policies such as campaign finance reform, Education bill, Farm bill, steel tariffs, presccription drugs….. In fact I regularly argue to my liberal friends that conservatives (not Republicans) have truly only agreed with Bush on 4 things: the war, taxes, judges, and SS reform.

  • Meckstroth · January 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    ◄Dave► :

    ◄Dave►
    I was never angry at him for opening the Iraqi theater in our global war with Jihadist Islam. His gambit to try to plant the seed of Western style liberal government in the heart of Arabia, while at the same time hanging the flypaper that attracted all the Mujaheddin to fight our warriors over there, instead of our policemen over here, was certainly worth a try. His mistake was focusing too much on the WMD issue and allowing the State Department to get involved too soon.
    When the diplomats have failed and we must resort to war, they should be locked in their offices in Foggy Bottom and their food shoved under their doors until the enemy has been vanquished. It was Paul Bremer, with the rush to craft a Federal Constitution, and turn sovereignty back over to an elected government too soon, which was the biggest mistake.
    That and failing to keep the American Public engaged and supportive of the mission from the bully pulpit, which gave his political enemies free rein to pummel him mercilessly with the “Bush Lied” meme. This is where his idealistic certainty that he was “doing the right thing” got him in the most trouble. He failed conservatives big-time, by not defending himself and our mission vociferously.
    The areas where conservatives are dissatisfied with Bush are not over the Iraqi Theater. His biggest sin was supporting amnesty and not closing our Southern Border, once the magnitude of the Illegal Alien invasion was known. He deserved to be impeached for dereliction of his Constitutional duty for that alone.
    The SPP agreement, to create the North American Union, was a globalist inspired travesty, which threatens our very sovereignty. The Medicare Drugs fiasco is anything but conservative. Conservatives didn’t want “No Child Left Behind,” they wanted to get Washington completely out of Public Schools.
    His refusal to veto a single pork-laden bill from Congress, no matter how egregious, is not the way to prove oneself a conservative. Now, bailing out the bankers and autoworkers unions is a final straw. The man may be an idealist; but he sure isn’t a conservative… on balance, I would put him to the Left of JFK. ◄Dave►

    I agree with everything you said. At last, a secular person who is also conservative, and a whole website full of them!

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