Anti-Bush Mythology

Mythologies are difficult to debunk because they filter the way people processes information. Information buttressing the mythology is given disproportionate even dispositive weight. Contradictory information is ignored or dismissed. Yet, mythology comforts because it eases the burden of considering alternative ideas or the challenge the uncomfortable facts.

One such mythology holds that President George W. Bush is a religious zealot, who believes he receives directives from God to prosecute a war on terror and specific instructions on how to conduct it. With this mythology, critics can explain Bush’s apparent steadfastness in terms of a blind and uncritical faith by someone not quite in full control of his faculties. As someone facetiously asked, “Does President Bush even tip his hat to reality as he goes breezing by?”

It does not take much scrutiny to undermine the weak foundations upon which anti-Bush partisans build their prevailing mythology. One primary source for this anti-Bush mythology is David Corn who writes in The Nation:

“[Bush] claimed his duty was to defend the United States. This remark — coupled with Bush’s comment that `there is a higher father that I appeal to’ — does make it seem that Bush believes he is on a mission from God. That might scare some, but it would not be so problematic if Bush also believed that God expects him to engage in self-examination and critical and honest discourse…”

Here, Corn takes a single sentence from Bush, “There is a higher father I appeal to.” as evidence to suggest, in Corn’s words, that Bush is on a “mission from God.” Corn provides a patina of fairness and credibility by cautioning that we have to evaluate Bush’s remark in the context of whether Bush is sufficiently introspective.

Yet, we and Corn really do have sufficient context. Corn does not have to look very far to find it. The fuller background of the Bush’s remark comes from Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack. Woodward asked Bush whether he consulted his father, the former president, about Iraq. Bush was a little uncomfortable is answering the question. If he made it sound as if he constantly consulted his father, he would appear as the little Bush — a “shrub” in the words of Liberal columnist Molly Ivins.

Bush answered Woodward’s question in a broader context saying,

“You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.”

With the simple neglect of the preceding sentence, Corn turns the Bush’s perfectly reasonable statement, that he uses his faith as a source of strength, into the subtle suggestion that Bush is on a zealous “mission from God,” Corn pretends to ask for context, then appears to deliberately ignore it.

Lest there be any doubt as to the role of Bush’s faith, Bush explained to Woodward:

“I’m surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case, I pray that I be as good a messenger of His will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for personal strength and for forgiveness.”

Surely, we can ask no more of anyone than that he seeks to be a “messenger of His will,” is humble enough to pray for “strength,” and recognizes the invariable necessity to request “forgiveness.”

However, that explanation is too reasonable; too modest, too eloquent, too consistent with the understanding of most people of faith, and too incompatible with the prevailing Left-wing mythology to enter the discussion.

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