WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?" ASSIGNMENT:
If you support the "war" in Iraq:
(a) excepting yourself, choose five people from your immediate family and/or from among your best friends whom you would be willing to "sacrifice" (i.e., kill) in order to depose Saddam Hussein;
(b) tell them personally of your decision.
It is extremely difficult to challenge someone regarding the sincerity of his or her religious beliefs. How does one presume to "know the contents of another’s heart," let alone one’s own?
In the case of President George W. Bush, the mainstream press has deliberately avoided an in-depth discussion of whether the "religion" of President Bush is sincere, the general assumption being that it is sincere. Both Bob Woodward and Ron Suskind, in their various discussions, seem convinced that the Religious Mr. Bush is truly a religious man, that his "born again" status is legitimate, that when he speaks of his faith, he speaks from his heart.
Can we ever know for sure? Perhaps not, but one way to examine the "heart" of President Bush is to examine his words and deeds, which would surely seem to be extensions of his One True Self. In this arena, George W. Bush has stated that Jesus is his favorite philosopher, and according to Bob Woodward, "there’s a higher Father that I appeal to."
With these seemingly-unquestioned (and unquestionable?) statements in mind, one can surely ask which of the teachings of Jesus, which parts of the Jesus "philosophy" has George W. Bush has followed during his rapid political rise, because seldom does the president justify his words and deeds by citing the teachings of Jesus.
It is well known that George W. Bush (and indeed the Bush family) is not above holding a petty grudge. It is no secret that George W. Bush possesses a nasty temperament, that he does not appreciate being contradicted or challenged, and that his vocabulary employs the "f" word with considerable frequency. During the 2000 campaign, when he spotted then New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, he called Clymer an "asshole." Which of the teachings of Jesus justify such juvenile behavior?
The nation’s corporate media are reluctant (or afraid) to say that President Bush "lied" in the lead-up to his war-of-choice in Iraq, although there was no such reservation about calling Bill Clinton a liar when Clinton lied to the public. Does George W. Bush get a pass because he is a self-declared "religious" man and a chosen instrument of his God? As more and more evidence emerges to show how false reasons were given to justify invading and appropriating Iraq, still the major media avoid the "l" word. When Colin Powell, whose own top experts on weapons of mass destruction advised him otherwise, went before the world at the United Nations and made false statements about Iraq’s WMD capability, he lied. He was not relying on "the best intelligence" available to the administration, he was relying on false intelligence, cherry-picked intelligence, intelligence that was not the least bit intelligent in the first place.
With a sense of concerned amazement, the Rev. Pat Robertson recently told CNN that President George W. Bush believed there would be no casualties during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. President Bush, through spokespeople, now says he can’t recall making the statement or that Pat Robertson is not telling the truth. (Once when this writer was deposing a defendant, her lawyer openly coached her, "If you don’t recall, just say you don’t recall," and the witness dutifully echoed, "I don’t recall . . .") Despite being called a liar by Bush surrogates, Pat Robertson still intends to vote for the president, apparently because the president is a man "of God." Is God the Supreme Hypocrite, or what?
If George W. Bush truly said there would be no casualties resulting from his war of choice, it was a belief so thoughtless and naive (and so alarming) as to disqualify him from serving as the nation’s Commander-in-Chief. One presumes the course of history and the facts emerging from the undeclared "war" in Iraq have enlightened the president, but given the president’s unwillingness to even consider the errors of his ways, it is only a presumption.
A separate aspect of the president’s rosy "no casualties" statement, however has not received appropriate attention. During this same period, while selling his rationale for a U.S. takeover of Iraq, President Bush was alarming the nation, including so-called "sophisticated" members of congress, claiming Saddam Hussein was possessed of and was ready to use weapons of mass destruction capable of killing millions of human beings. These weapons, the world was assured, would surely be used against the United States and others. Only by taking out Saddam would the world be safe.
Here’s the conflict: If George W. Bush truly believed Saddam had WMD enough to kill millions, he might have (must have) assumed Saddam would use those weapons against an invading force. Invasion promoters spread a story about a mythological "Red Zone" near Baghdad where WMD would surely be employed to turn by the U.S. troops. Yet if President Bush believed there would be "no casualties," then he must have known (would have known) the fabled WMD did not in fact exist.
Never having served in congress, President Bush came into the highest office in the land as a relative newcomer to politics, to the problems of foreign policy and foreign relations (apart from Mexico), to the demands imposed on one who is supreme commander of the nation’s military might. According to his many on-the-record statements regarding the invasion, President Bush acted not after wrestling with the intellectual demands surrounding the issue, but by following his "gut" instinct as guided by prayer. (Conveniently, this president’s faith in himself as a messenger of God means that President Bush can always blame God when the Bush-gut actions end in disaster.)
Seldom if ever does President Bush tell us that he primarily relies on the advice supplied to him by his closest advisors such as Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzalez or Condoleeza Rice who exist not merely as Yes Men and Women who grovel before the president and his Godly presence. If Karl Rove is indeed a political "genius," it is demonstrated by his deliberate employment of religion as the ultimate "untouchable" political reality. Questioning the sincerity of his man’s "faith" is out of bounds. One proceeds at one’s peril.
Prior to the publication of her valuable best-selling expose "The Family," this writer described to Kitty Kelley his analysis of George W. Bush regarding intellectual thought, and I’ll expand on that brief discussion here. President Bush dismisses the rigorous employment of intellect because, as a middling student, he has always viewed teachers and professors with a measure of discomfort and contempt. They expected more of him than he was willing or able to give. At prep school and later at Yale, George W. Bush was surrounded by peers with far more interest in discussion and analysis than he cared about. Instead, the future president relied on his viciously-waspish "wit," often employed to take advantage of the weaknesses of others, as Gary Trudeau affirmed in an interview with Charlie Rose.
In his youth, George W. Bush was out to have a good time, not to suffer the mental torment of contemplation, but to enjoy the mentally-stimulating benefits of drugs, alcohol, sex and demeaning power over others. "Have a ball!" The too-solemn professors and other (slur) "intellectuals" were irritants, as summed up nicely by a note I recently received from a reader of one of my earlier columns who wrote, " I find that often the ‘intellectuals’ make situations much more complicated than they actually are so that they can justify their time. I am a skeptic of Academia. I have studied your major areas with the exception of education; I’m not impressed. Over analyzing often leaves one worse off."
When George W. Bush at mid-life finally was forced to "see the light," he did not complicate his thought processes by immersing himself in intellectual pursuits. Instead, he tells us he underwent a religious "born again" transformation that, once more, did not require him to justify (waste) time thinking deeply about the essential issues involving the world and humankind. Just as he found acceptance among the party-time social set, so he found new and apparently-profound acceptance among the evangelical born-again multitudes who welcomed him with open arms. They knew, as it were, "his heart." But did they really?
When called upon to force the nation into his chosen "war" to appropriate the soverign nation of Iraq, George W. Bush did not examine the issues with over-analysis. Had he done so, he would have had to struggle with the many expert opinions and evidence that ran contrary to his "gut" reactions and, more important, the "advice" given to him by manipulative, agenda-driven ideological colleagues who knew what an indolent "patsy" they had in their chosen president.
Accepting the serious matters of sending men and women into a "war," of spending the nation’s money and blood, are simplified when one can duck the hard work of authentic analysis and rely instead on the mentally-lazy process of "faith" as a guide to action. If George W. Bush is truly as thoughtless as he increasingly appears to be, then he not only has faith in his version of "God" and "Jesus," but also faith in the axis of Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld and their conspiratorial colleagues.
As evidence continues to emerge on the lead-up to war and in the light of its grimly-gruesome aftermath, George W. Bush can cynically dismiss whatever may be discomforting by claiming it is all "God’s will." At the same time, he can count on the nation’s popular media to back him up, because the popular media, too, is "not impressed" with discomforting analysis, echoing the notion, "Over analyzing often leaves one worse off." And one dare not question publicly the "conversion" of George W. Bush nor his wisdom in pushing the nation into what was (obviously now) a totally-unnecessary war.
Guided by Svengali Karl Rove, President George W. Bush and his colleagues knew before invading Iraq there were no weapons of mass destruction. They knew conquering the Iraqi military would not amount to the proverbial hill of beans. Devoid of empathy, our National Cabal may give lip service to but cares little or nothing about the sacrifices being made by American troops, by Iraqis, by families here at home — or by any but themselves. Where in the "philosophy" of Jesus are the words to support the lies, abusive and arrogant actions, the gross hubris of President George W. Bush and his followers?
DOUG GIEBEL, writer and analyst, lives in Big Sandy, Montana. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org