On Native Ground
THE DIVINE MADNESS OF PRESIDENT BUSH
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The Bush presidency has been hard on the souls of every person who has a brain and believes in rationalism, humanism and liberalism.
It's been hard because those of us who believe in these values - the values that shaped America and infused this nation's greatest gift to the world, our Constitution - have been under attack by people who wish to repeal the Enlightenment.
Those of us who put reason ahead of faith, who believe than man is the measure of all things, who believe in knowledge and learning and reject the tyranny of religion, who agree with Thomas Paine that "all religious institutions are human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit," are up against a presidency that is based entirely on faith that rejects reason and rationality.
If you haven't read Ron Suskind's article, "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," which appeared in the Oct. 17 edition of The New York Times Sunday Magazine, do so immediately. Read it, and then decide which is better - a presidency built on reason, or a faith-based presidency that rejects all contrary realities.
Suskind, the former Wall Street Journal reporter who has been closely following the management style of the Bush White House over the last three years, paints a frightening picture of President Bush as a man who is disdainful of facts and who isn't particularly interested in acquiring new ones. The President is a man who bases his decision-making on his instincts and his evangelical Christian faith.
This isn't news, but what is news is the extent that the people who work for President Bush have bought into this mindset. They know that to work for the President, they must have total faith in him. To question his decision-making, or to point out information that might contradict it, undercuts that faith and thus is not allowed.
The people in President Bush's inner circle are disdainful of anyone who doesn't believe in their ideas. Suskind writes of an encounter with an unnamed Bush administration senior advisor that illustrates this point.
"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people 'who believe solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and mumbled something about Enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world 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 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."
In other words, President Bush and his administration will do whatever it wants because they have the power to create their own realities. Empires don't need to be bothered with independent information or thoughtful analysis. We have a president who is arrogant enough to believe he is on a mission from God, and all who stand against him not only oppose the president, they oppose the divine will of the Almighty.
The Bush administration is hardly alone in its contempt for the "reality-based community." As Suskind points out, there are a large number of Americans who share President Bush's contempt. Forty-two percent of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, identify themselves as evangelical "born again" Christians. These are the people that are driving the President's campaign. These are people who believe that President Bush is an instrument of God, chosen to lead our nation in a time of turmoil.
If you take this line of reasoning, it's easy to think that they see the rest of us - those who still believe in reason and rationality - as tools of Satan. When God is your chief political advisor, what need do you have for anyone else?
The certitude and faith of President George W. Bush gave us the invasion of Iraq, because he was so convinced of the righteousness of his cause that he chose not to listen to anyone who told him otherwise. His belief in his divinely-guided instincts would be considered insanity in any other place but America, where vast numbers think this nation is uniquely blessed by God and everyone else is damned.
This sort of thinking should scare the hell out of every thinking human being on the planet.
It's no secret that if the rest of the world were allowed to vote in this election, Sen. John Kerry would win in a landslide. It's not that they think Sen. Kerry is so much better than President Bush. It is that most people outside of the United States recognize that Sen. Kerry is an educated man who doesn't see the world in black-and-white. Their hope is that this nation might again have a government based on reason rather than faith.
The world's only hope is that enough Americans share this view on Nov. 2.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.