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George W. Bush was appointed into the White House as a proudly born-again “Christian,” and his “compassionate” conservative administration entered the White House accordingly, as if it had a mandate from the gods, when it didn’t even have a mandate from the people. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, George has answered to a higher calling and signed America up in the millennial religious struggle against “evil” in the world. George’s self-proclaimed “crusade” against terrorism has become the new and larger American assignment, having entirely eclipsed America’s centuries-long struggle to become a democracy.
Operationally, George’s vision translates into the Orwellian notion of preserving American “freedom” by eliminating American rights, maintaining a self-righteous, neo-imperialistic attitude toward the “old” world’s democracies, and promoting a militaristic expansion of American power in the name of America’s war on terrorism. All of this is brought to you, as they say on Sesame Street, by the letter “C,” “compassionate” conservatism, consumerism and corrupt crony capitalism.
In light of George’s dynastic family past, it is possible to wonder why George would feel so duty bound to nourish the conservative sociocultural world which caused him decades of dysfunction as a young man. Why would he invest in a sociocultural world which provided him with no interest in education, a good deal of interest in alcoholic escapism, and little or no ability to survive on his own in the business world of his social class?
Having finally found sobriety in Billy Graham’s concept of deity, George learned to accept as personal fact that he had largely wasted two decades of his life jagging around as the spoiled son of money, privilege and power. Having achieved this personal epiphany, it was by giving himself over to Graham’s god, that George has been able to rid himself of alcoholic indecision and indirection. In return, Graham’s god has provided George with righteous self-justification. While one might hope for a president who is knowledgeable, thoughtful and caring, George doesn’t need to be any of these things, because George is right in the eyes of the god who keeps him sober.
George’s devotion to his Grahamic god has saved him from a life of alcoholic failure and chronic bailouts, no doubt. George has found his theological calling as a “dry drunk,”, now able to be smug and belligerent without drinking a drop, as testimony to the great healing power of Graham’s god. From this self-righteous mindset, George has declared that America (and the crony capitalism for which it has come to stand) is transcendent of all traditional western notions of morality, no compassionate forgiveness, no religious vengeance, just raw unprovoked military aggression. America’s dominant position in the world is assumed to reflect the wishes of Graham’s god and America is, therefore, justified in contemplating pre-meditated and unprovoked violence against all who are seen as a threat to the new unilateralist “American Way.”
In the course of this personal evolution, George has come to accept that he was a black sheep in the Bush dynastic family, that he was saved from himself by Graham’s god, and that he has since been blessed by that god with a transcendent, religious reason for being in power. Given that George’s dynastic family has made his survival and his “success” possible, it is necessarily in George’s interest to see himself as duty bound to those responsible. George, the prodigal son, has found his way back home to make his family proud. It was he who was out of line all along wasn’t it now, all praise Graham’s god. This approach to the comprehension of causation in one’s life is, by now, classically “American” in that it only goes back one step in thought. Under the aegis of consumerism, for example, food comes from grocery stores and housing comes from real estate agencies, nevermind the farms and ranches and timberlands. For decades now, American consumers have believed that they need only go back one step in thought, to the retail outlets and to the common denominator required at all of them, i.e., money.
Likewise, personal causation in George’s life did not start one step ago with his devotion to Grahamism, nor did it start with his earlier devotion to alcoholism. As with even “common” people, personal causation in George’s life started back in the family, where the parenting which he experienced must be considered as a factor in his early lack of self-discipline and self-respect and, therefore, his lack of parental respect.
In other words, if George took a natural historical look at his situation, beginning with his beginnings, he would see that there are necessarily direct and indirect reasons for his having spent his first two adult decades in alcoholic failure, both as a dis-interested student and as a would-be businessman. George must know that he was not really such a “bad” kid, that there were home-bound reasons for his depression and his penchant for alcoholic escape, his inability to find a mature footing upon which to grow.
From what kind of world do you suppose George was so desperately and for so long seeking to escape? What was the nature of the parental world that would drive a young man into a life style of alcohol and meaningless relationships? What parental impositions would produce a young man with little interest in personal growth and self-improvement? What sins of commission? What sins of omission?
This is the introspective subject area to which George ought really devote considerable personal attention in the interest of self-comprehension. It would certainly make him a better president to better know himself. Do you suppose that George turned to alcohol and “good” times because he was raised in a world in which he was personally insignificant and inconsequential? Do you suppose that George lost his way because he was exposed to nothing that had meaning for him, nothing that made sense to his nascent self? Do you suppose that George’s wealthy and powerful parents were so busy with matters of pomp and circumstance, matters of security and securities, that George’s needs were oftentimes treated with benign neglect (which is never very benign)? Do you suppose young George went off the deep end because he got everything he wanted and very little he needed?
Do you suppose that if George thought about his life on the whole, from the beginning, that he might see that his youthful depression and escapism were understandable if not justifiable, given his dynastic family experience? Do you suppose that George might come to see that he was perhaps not all that wrong as a rebellious youth, more like over-protected, over-pacified and neglected? Do you suppose that George might come to see that had he been provided what all young people need at home, a loving, honest and time-intense parental relationship, he might have avoided two decades of meaningless escapism? Is it not entirely possible that George could have departed the parental nest to do just fine as an adult, not as a politically-appointed and manipulated president, not as a self-ordained religious hack, but as an honest, thoughtful and caring individual making honest contribution to the country and the people he could love?
Think back, George, to the days before you sold yourself out. What exactly about your home life was bothering you?
Dr. GERRY LOWER lives in Keystone, South Dakota. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org