Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"How a good vs. evil mentality destroyed the Bush presidency."

This is good, an excerpt from a new book by Glenn Greenwald.

Al Gore also talks about this in his book, The Assault on Reason:

Well before he began beating the drums for war against Iraq, Bush had already announced that his chosen enemy was evil itself. The day after 9/11, Bush announced, "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail." Two days later, I was sitting in the audience at the National Cathedral when Bush proclaimed that his "responsibility to history" was to "rid the world of evil." I actually thought that most of the president's speech that day was excellent, and I told him so. But I remember being astonished at the grandiosity and hubris of his odd and disturbing claim that he could and would "rid the world of evil."


The following week, in addressing a joint session of Congress, Bush said God had foreordained the outcome of the conflict in which we were engaged because "freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them."

As others have noted, Bush's view of his policies in the context of a fateful spiritual conflict between good and evil does not really represent Christian doctrine. It actually more closely resembles an ancient Christian heresy called Manichaeism--rejected by Christianity more than a thousand years ago--that sought to divide all of reality into two simple categories, absolute good and absolute evil.

Simplicity is always more appealing than complexity, and faith is always more comforting than doubt. Both religious faith and uncomplicated explanations of the world are even more highly valued at a time of great fear. Moreover, during times of great uncertainty and public anxiety, any leader who combines simplistic policies with claims of divine guidance is more likely to escape difficult questions based on glaring logical flaws in his arguments.

There are many people in both political parties who worry that there is something deeply troubling about President Bush's relationship to reason, his disdain for facts, and his lack of curiosity about any new information that might produce a deeper understanding of the problems and policies that he is supposed to wrestle with on behalf of the country.

Yet Bush's incuriosity and seeming immunity to doubt is sometimes interpreted by people who see and hear him on television as evidence of the strength of his conviction, even though it is this very inflexibility--this willful refusal even to entertain alternative opinions or conflicting evidence--that poses the most serious danger to our country. . . .

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