HOW CHURCH AND STATE MERGED
By Peter Fredson
Recently, when discussing Bush’s arrogant remarks to sovereign nation Iran, I asked a fellow blogger to look back 4 years at similar remarks concerning Iraq as deliberately leading our nation to consider war. Taking my own advice I reread some of the hundreds of old files I have on my hard drive and CDs concerning Bush, including when he first came into national prominence.
Back in the late 1990’s a picture of G.W. Bush emerged to mystify many people. He was a callow and shallow person, a ne’er-do-well son of a powerful politician who got him into the best schools, put him into several business ventures and got him out of trouble when his ventures failed. G.W. had his famous “deer in the headlights” look of stupefaction when asked any question relevant to issues. I thought he was as dumb as a fence-post, and his stupid misstatements confirmed my opinion.
People speculated that Bush was dyslexic. Bush denied that his campaign used “subliminable” advertising. He said, on education. “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” He commented to struggling workers: “I know it’s hard to put food on your family.” About the economy: “I understand small business growth—I was one.” In Midland, Texas, he told an interviewer in 1994, “It was just inebriating, what Midland was all about then.” Remember when he was campaigning, Bush had no idea who the President of Pakistan was, even though the military coup in Pakistan was front-page news? Campaigning for President and not bothering to read newspapers sounds dumb or lazy.
The press reported that G.W. was a reformed alcoholic, coke snuffer, and aimless carouser, making us wonder how that qualified him for public office. When asked about current events he responded with a bewildered stare. When making grandiose statements about issues, he refused to give any specifics. He didn’t know anything about foreign affairs, and garbled the few names he knew of foreign leaders. Then it was reported that he would not serve his country in active duty but that his daddy got him into the National Guard, got him a commission, and that G.W. went A.W.O.L on several occasions for long periods of time. This was standard procedure for many draft-dodgers who later became Members of Congress, so I wasn’t particularly surprised but still wondered why he was being touted as a poster boy for the Republicans. We then heard about his many failures as Texan governor, and about his “compassionate conservatism”, which was belied by his penchant for executing prisoners and mocking their cries.
Another facet of G.W. emerged, connected to charismatic evangelical Methodism, at a time when Moral Majority and Christian Coalition leaders were going to high-tech political recruiting. The country had just passed an excruciating ordeal as rabid Republicans obsessively tried to overthrow Bill Clinton because an intern got his rocks off. We all witnessed the avid curiosity of congressional committees, special investigators and prosecutors that tried to get all the lurid details of fellatio, and their rampaging fury when Clinton escaped their clutches.
The evangelicals went into strategy sessions with major politicians to see how they could take over the direction of the country and save it from sin. They combined with major corporate executives for a double-whammy of Christian superiority and neo-conservative Manifest Destiny politics.
We know there were several secret sessions, where no drafts of Bush speeches were issued and no word of whatever transpired was made public. But we can tell by results that the Far Right wing was promised full access to the Oval Office and to the Treasury, with complete immunity as to installing Christian symbols, icons and monuments in whatever public place they chose. We know Far Righters were guaranteed results on abortion, gays, prayer, Pledge, Ten Commandments, and Christian hegemony. We know this was done for the Giant Corporations, and we know this was done for the gun owners. In fact a spokesman for the Rifle Association boasted that his organization would be given space in the White House. We know that this combination of neo-con corporations with highly aggressive and wealthy Christian activists eventually took control of the entire Republican party. They had the money, the votes, and the physical support of millions of True Believer sheep that would do anything they were asked “to help God.”
We know that G.W. told one of his religious mentors:
“I feel like God wants me to run for president. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. . . . I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.” G.W. also remarked that he considered Jesus to be his favorite philosopher, and that he talked to God. Judging from his reception as poster boy for the Far Right we can assume that his secret meetings promised people that their dearest wishes would be fulfilled
When G.W. was Governor of Texas, deciding to run for the presidency, he used language evangelicals would understand. G.W. said he had been “called,” a divine mandate, evoking prophetic revelations. He called several pastors for a ritual “laying on of hands,” like ministerial ordination. G.W. said he had been called by God to be presidential candidate. His use of religious language has since been frequent in his declarations, especially after September 11, 2001. He is regarded as a kind of Messiah by televangelist entertainers, because he opened the Gates of Heaven and the Oval Office to them. Thus he has been anointed, and any criticism of him is tantamount to challenging the will of God.
The Oval Office has been converted into a kind of chapel, where prayer sessions by Christian evangelists set the tone for daily strategy. G.W. inaugurated the “faith-based” assault on Separation of Church and State, allowing the faithful to proselytize and prosper at tax-payer expense. And corporate executives are living high off the hog, with no recess in their daily quest for maximum profit. But Martha Steward has been chastised even if Ken Lay has not.
Looking back 4 years we hear G.W. making arrogant speeches to the world about an AXIS OF EVIL, and about “regime change.” There is a gathering crescendo of belligerent propaganda about terrorism and how it is connected to Saddam Hussein, Iraq and to the imminent danger to the U.S. of dreaded mass Weapons of Mass Destruction which would rain death upon all America unless stopped immediately by Cruise Missiles. We see G.W. making countless speeches, daily, about the defiance of Saddam. We witness G.W. giving the U.N. his terms regarding Saddam and bullying or bribing other nations to see things his way. We see his entire cabinet out on the speech stump spreading the propaganda concerning EVIL in Iraq. We hear Colin Powell tell the world about the Weapons of Mass destruction, with colored slides and charts showing the terrible consequences of letting Saddam alone. We see Colin Powell, a person of good repute, turn into a sycophant of G.W., doing the bidding of a person who was not fit enough to serve as his orderly in the army. We hear Condi Rice using obfuscating bureaucratic language which could mean anything or nothing. And we see Cheney rubbing his hands with glee every time Millennium Corporation gets another billion dollars without needing any bothersome contracts.
We witness the secret meetings of the Vice President with top executives of energy corporations concerning the energy policy of the nation. But the press rarely shouted “corruption” or “war-monger.” We see the nation which had a credit surplus turn into a debtor nation with a record deficit. We see the nation become paranoid because of daily reports of terrorism purposely stirred up by the G.W. apparatus to “scare the hell out” of the public in a dazzling display of exploitative hubris. The colorful charts of terrorist danger devised by the administration did diddly-squat against terrorists, but had the effect of making the nation believe G.W. was some kind of hero who would protect them. In reality, he and his crew squandered billions of dollars in vain efforts to round up a dozen dissidents.
G.W. exploited September 11 to the hilt, and was successful in spreading a climate of fear in America by which people really thought that he, G.W., was a kind of hero and would protect them. This leaves no doubt about whether people are gullible or can be manipulated by rhetoric and swaggering. But, of course. we knew all that with Adolph Hitler, who showed the way for modern fascists to obtain and hold power with the “Big Lie” technique.
We heard G.W. vow to put his every effort into “getting” Osama bin Laden, then we watched G.W. gradually losing interest in bin Laden and taking great interest in Saddam Hussein and the vast reserves of Iraq oil. We observed the gradual switch after Afghanistan operations to enormous interest in invading Iraq. Great rhetoric was churned out by G.W. speechwriters concerning the evil of Saddam and the plight of his people without freedom.
G.W. proposed to “free” the people of Iraq with Cruise missiles, bunker buster bombs, cluster bombs, grenades, mortars, cannon, huge tanks, soldiers with full gear that would kill everything that moved. G.W. sold the gullible nation a bill of goods. He invaded Iraq, immediately seized the oil ministry and the oil wells, gave the oil to Millennium Corporation without pesky contracts, let Millennium feed the troops and make millions on the deal, inserted hundreds of “contractors” at fancy salaries to proselytize the Iraqis, and quartered troops upon the Iraqis to terrorize them, knock down their habitations, ruin their infrastructure, squander most of the money destined to help Iraqis, and kill about 100,000 Iraqis without even bothering to record the number of deaths. He blithely passed off 1,500 American troop deaths by refusing to let people photograph their caskets. In this way, by denying death, perhaps they never died for his reckless plans. Perhaps they are thanking him for sending them all to an afterworld or thanking him for sending them to their deaths for precious oil.
He personally chose every one of Iraqi puppet governors, and had his administrators draw up plans for permanent possession of Iraq in the form of giant airbases, a huge embassy, and to prohibit Iraqis from ever suing any of his people for any action they had ever committed against Iraq. He had no exit strategy except “kill the insurgents.” His entrance strategy certainly included the appeal to Right Wingers of being a Crusade against Infidel Muslims.
And he defined an “insurgent” as anyone who challenged his divine mandates, a practice he began with Americans in the U.S. when criticism was tantamount to treason.
Now we have a True Believer Supreme Court being asked to set aside their Christian beliefs and rule on Far Right aggressivity in imposing Christian symbols and dogma on the entire nation. Now we have G.W. using almost identical warlike rhetoric with Iran, Syria and a more muted tone with North Korea.
Now we still have a callow shallow smirking swaggering person in power, with the compassion of an alligator. We have a person in power who is the worst leader in memory, with the greatest deficit in history, with grave attacks on education, medicine, trade, economics, civil rights, environment, and veteran’s affairs. We have a person in power who was told by his lawyers that he was above the law. We have senators that think that abuse and torture are simply akin to college pranks. We have a person in power that dragged his feet every inch of the way to make a September Commission, still refuses to release crucial papers. We have a person in power that refuses to acknowledge ever making any mistake, that still believes some Weapons of Mass Destruction abounded and that he was chosen at a Divine Instrument to eradicate EVIL, while at the same time selling out his country to televangelists and corrupt corporations. And, we have a person in power that wishes to use the Bible as a legal document for the U.S., choosing favorite quotations of his to incorporate into the constitution.
As a result, it was painful to look back and reflect on the fact that some people never learn. Something about False Prophets serving Baal? We still wonder what makes him qualified to lead a democracy. Would it offend True Believers to say, “Heaven Help Us?”