Skip to comments.Andrew Sullivan: Victory is an article of faith for Bush
Posted on 10/27/2001 4:03:19 PM PDT by Pokey78
Everyone who knows him will tell you the same thing. George W Bush is a deeply religious man. That's not to say he's pious. His easy nicknames for journalists, his tangled baseball analogies, his constant outbursts of chuckles do not connote a man of solemn devotion. Compared with the ostentatious sanctimony of Jimmy Carter, Bush seems urbane, even sassy.
But this shouldn't fool you. Bush believes that he was personally saved by God from a life of heavy drinking and irresponsibility. From the day Billy Graham took a walk with him and urged him to start his life anew, Bush has been a different man. And since September 11, he has been a different man altogether.
Nobody seems to doubt the spiritual context for this. The day of his speech to Congress on September 20, Bush did not spend the afternoon conferring with aides or even speech-writers. He spent it with religious leaders of all denominations. And at the end of the day, a telling moment occurred. James Merritt, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the president: "I believe you are God's man for this hour. God's hand is on you." The president nodded. "I accept the responsibility," he replied. Whatever others think, this is what Bush believes; not in a messianic way but as one of those odd occurrences that the Almighty sometimes decides to bestow on the unlikeliest of people.
He was like this before September 11. His inaugural speech, when you look back on it, was full of religious imagery. He spoke of an "angel riding in the whirlwind". He invoked "a power larger than ourselves, Who creates us equal in His image". He spoke of "history's Author, Who fills time and eternity with His purpose".
These words come naturally to him. Bush begins most days reading the Bible and is as regular with his private prayers as with the treadmill. "I don't think anyone out there truly understands how important his faith is to this man," one of his aides told me a few months back. Perhaps part of this is due to Bush's life story. He was the first son, but he wasn't the first child in his family. His elder sister died of leukaemia when he was a child, thrusting him into the first-child role he never sought, while his mother grieved and leant on him. He never expected to be in public life and goofed off for years. His younger brother, Jeb, was supposed to be the next president, not W.
And from then on, surprise after surprise. He was not expected to beat an incumbent vice-president at a time of unparalleled prosperity. He did not win the popular vote, and asked himself what it meant that he had become president in such awkward circumstances. He carried on as if the riddle of his good fortune and awesome responsibility would at some point be solved for him.
September 11 solved it. "I think, in his frame, this is what God has asked him to do," a friend of his told The New York Times. "It offers him enormous clarity." Another friend opined that Bush had "begun a new life that is inextricably bound to September 11 and all that it implies". Look at the language Bush has employed. He uses the word "evil" with constant emphasis. Osama Bin Laden is an "evil man", the "evil one".
As Fred Barnes, the political journalist, noticed, the September 20 speech was also an exercise in psychological projection. "In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment," Bush said. "The country is called to defend freedom." Nobody needs to ask who had done the calling. Or who, apart from the country, had been called.
Nobody should confuse the faith of George W with more conventional Christian right belief. There are times when Bush seems almost embarrassingly ecumenical. One of his most beloved policy initiatives is the creation of "faith-based" social policy. But, apart from his campaign disaster of giving a speech at the uber-Protestant Bob Jones University, he has bent over backwards to avoid denominational edge. He has insisted that the focus of pro-life work (a view he shares) should not be imposing laws but changing hearts. His early insistence after September 11 that American Muslims deserved respect and protection was not merely good politics and good policy. It was heartfelt.
Like Tony Blair, we ignore this man's spiritual core at our peril. Its main consequence right now has been what insiders are calling a laser-beam concentration on the war on terrorism. Bush believes this is now his mission. It is not a job; it is not an adventure. It is a vocation. Bush seems determined to avoid any hostility with the Democrats. This has many conservatives worried, and it may indeed mean more public spending than is prudent. All this, in his mind, must be subjugated to what God has called him to.
And this, I think, explains the uncanny composure of the man. No president since John Kennedy in 1963 has been put under such intense stress in a national emergency. Yet Bush seems calm and happy. He doesn't stay up all night; he exercises and plays with his dog. His underrated wife plays a part in this. And so, too, do Bush's well-honed executive skills. He knows how to delegate. Above all, like many former drunks, he knows psychologically how to delegate to a higher power.
I don't think it's too great a stretch to see this war as a religious one. It's between the frenzied fanaticism of one man, and the calm, sustaining faith of another. I have no doubt which one will crack first.
I have also read that GWB is very good friends and has had frequent prayer with TD Jakes and Rev. Robinson (I cannot recall his first name now.), both of whom are quite charasmatic/pentacostal. So, GWB is not sticking merely to his Methodist background. In fact, in an interview he did with Charisma and Christian Life Magazine back during the election standoff, he is quoted as saying that his dad is a Christian who sticks close to his denomination and never fully grasped the larger church. He on the other hand, expressed that he sees the body of Christ in many denominations and finds joy in fellowshipping across denominational lines.
Yes, but it's also a great fact to throw in the face of mean-spirited, angry liberals who love to spout off that "The country's being run by a crazy fundamentalist! He's just like Bin Laden!" Yeah, those wacky, evangelical Methodists... *rolling eyes*
Proverbs 21:1The king's heart [is] in the hand of the LORD, [as] the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
I don't think it's too great a stretch to see this war as a religious one. It's between the frenzied fanaticism of one man, and the calm, sustaining faith of another. I have no doubt which one will crack first. But can we the people be sufficiently patient to allow the full measure to come out?... With the democrat political machine already gearing up to sow their usual divisive sludge, I doubt it. Disinformation, mischaracterizations, and misdirection will hallmark the coming election campaign of the criminal enterprise democrat party. It will extend the war and ultimately put US more at risk, just as sinkEmperor's deviant neglect of war on terrorism--a declaration he made and lobbed a few cruise missiles to initiate as a diversion--can be partially to blame for the 9/11 atrocities ... which reminds me, how come the deviant hasn't been hung yet?
That's nothing. Didja hear what happened to Saul of Tarsus?...............;)
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