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Ear to the Ground

Andrew Sullivan: Bush’s Faith and Incompetence

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Posted on Aug 18, 2006

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting post on the fundamentalism that makes it impossible for Bush to ever change course: “Faith is to the new conservatism ... what ideology was to the old leftism: an unquestioned orthodoxy from which all policy flows.”

Andrew Sullivan:

I don’t think you can understand the actions of this administration - i.e. make them make internal sense - without understanding the depth of the president’s fundamentalist mindset. He’s a fundamentalist convert and an alcoholic. Faith is the one thing that rescued him from a life of chaos. So fundamentalist faith itself - regardless of its content - is integral to his entire worldview. And fundamentalism cannot question; it is not empirical; it is the antithesis of skepticism. Hence this allegedly “conservative” president attacking conservatism at its philosophical core: its commitment to freedom, to doubt, to constitutional process, to prudence, to limited government, balanced budgets and the rule of law. Faith is to the new conservatism is what ideology was to the old leftism: an unquestioned orthodoxy from which all policy flows.


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By harald hardrada, August 19, 2006 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment
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bush’s america sounds like israel, land of faith-based, tribal apartheid—those who don’t believe & don’t belong are treated like dogs & it’s happening in america—an example is how america’s frightened white folks are scapegoating immigrants who give to society by working hard to produce goods & services that americans need

truthdig’s among few sites in blogistan that allow comments dealing with the reality of america’s relations with israel—our mainstream news media are unquestioning in their support of israel’s institutionalized cruelty—the same meanspirited outlook has led our media to encourage the scapegoating of immigrants

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By CJ, August 19, 2006 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment
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C’mon, Sullivan’s piece is hardly worth the trouble. News flash, folks: Bush is driven and blinded by his faith, which brooks no argument. Wow, now THAT is a hot story! Did Andrew just discover the facts of GW’s faith? Or that religious faith tends to lead to intolerance? Well, GW isn’t in fact too different from most conservatives, except that his dogmatic beliefs derive more than usual from his religious fundamentalism. While Sullivan is ostensibly writing of Bush, he doesn’t fail to take his shots at the left, contrasting leftist “ideology” with conservative’s “commitment to freedom” and “small government.” Does Sullivan mean something like the “small government” overseen by that true conservative, Ronald Reagan?

Sullivan’s contentions are pure pap. As though “ideology” only ever belonged to the left. Hardly the case: Ideology has always belonged largely to the right, though both have been and are guilty. If it weren’t Bush’s religious fundamentalism, it would be his capitalist ideology, which he also harbors. Does Sullivan even grasp the concept of ideology? There’s no evidence he does. It’s conservatives who constitute the real idealist dogmatists, with their preposterous faith in idealist notions, such as Adam Smith’s idea of pure competition in free markets and the like, as though any such thing ever existed or ever will. Yeah, uh huh. And the left of course, in its delusional ideology, is committed to authoritarianism, as all know, anything but freedom, something far more likely to be discovered in implementing a leftist, genuinely participatory democracy. These conservative commentators are a laugh riot, even when they’re attempting critiques of their own. Sullivan apparently subscribes to the theory of democracy for the few—the meretricious—since he doesn’t really trust what Hardt and Negri term “the multitude.”

It’s thanks to the fact that the real left in America and around the world is never heard from that the limits of debate in this country are confined to a usually harsh, albeit sometimes not unappealing populist, conservatism at one extreme and not-very-different centrists at the other extreme. Well, small government to be sure, so long as there is just enough to keep “yas” all from forgetting your place. The actual left, with which Sullivan appears to be unfamiliar, regards the state, meaning any and all government, an impediment to freedom, most especially capitalist states, wherein both conservatives—any kind of conservative—and the Sam Donaldson/Chris Matthews version of the left serve the interests of their class, not least in the maintenance of an ideology that serves to disguise the source of limits to freedom, namely, mal-distribution of wealth, accrued by means of exploitation of labor. (But, hey, you too can get rich, fella. Yeah, but not ALL of you at the same time.) Oh, and maintenance of the ideology that is central to class-based “democracy” is not a function of conspiracy, since ideology is by definition a set of dogmatic beliefs inculcated by means of a process of socialization, such that the fundamentals are accepted by most at face value. As noted, Bush is not so different after all.

So, look who’s talking, rather writing, here about the impact of evangelism, which (quite right Andrew) comes in more forms than one, not least conservative libertarianism, especially as that political creed conceives of the (yeah, small government, encumbered with a massive body of law that has largely to do with the “rights” of property) state in conjunction with big business; in particular, the corporation, long deemed to possess the political, indeed social, status of an actual person. (One dollar, one vote.) This of course is the ideology of Dick Cheney, but also of most of America’s political leaders, regardless of political creed. C’mon, man.

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By joe, August 19, 2006 at 5:02 am Link to this comment
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For those people it is also a convenient excuse/shield to hide their incompetense, ignorance and lower IQ’s.

I don’t have to think anymore because my Faith tells me it is not a good thing.


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By R. A. Earl, August 18, 2006 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Any who operates on “faith,” rejecting empirical evidence, logical thought and grounded reasoning has no place at the helm of anything except maybe a Bible class.

These fundies live in fantasyland. They confuse wishful thinking with reality… actually it’s more like they swap or merge the two until they no longer can discern one from the other.

The collective sigh of relief that will pass over America on Bush’s final day will likely cause atmospheric disturbance visible from space!

What I don’t understand is why “faith” has become a problem of epidemic proportions. Were 300,000,000 Americans so shaken by 911 that they can no longer think logically and sanely?

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By C Quil, August 18, 2006 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think that Bush’s brand of faith lets him off the hook, though. As a born-again Christian, he can simply shuck off his old life like a snake sheds its skin and then slither off to a new life. No need to try to repair the damage he’s done, to apologize to the people for their ruined lives - basically, no consequences.

How often can he do this? Can you be reborn more than once and renew your faith-based amnesia?

If he’d actually gone through some kind of alcohol treatment program, he’d find it wasn’t as easy as this born-again garbage. Alcoholics Anonymous insists that people recognize who they’ve hurt and how they’ve hurt them. They must apologize if the person allows it. If they don’t want to be contacted, the alcoholic must accept that too. They have no right to forgiveness from the people they have wronged. The alcoholic must also try to repair the damage in whatever way they can.

Bush did not take this route because, frankly, it would have been to hard for him. He’s never taken responsibility for anything in his life. He remains a dry drunk with recurrent amnesia. He cannot learn from his mistakes because he doesn’t believe he made any.

Just because he’s deluded doesn’t mean he should be let off the hook. He’s very dangerous.

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