Country’s said to be dripping with it, even after more God-talk from Bush
It’s about time that George W. Bush was making unbelievers out of us. Sarcasm about his performance seems to be rising as rapidly as the price of gas.
He can make all the coded religious references he wants — as he did in his primetime speech last night — but the malign neglect of the Bush regime’s response to Hurricane Katrina may have finally proven to mainstream America that his crew is running on empty.
Only hours before Bush’s speech, Salon‘s Aaron Kinney pointed out the “newfound skepticism” about Bush in Time and Newsweek.
Then, after the speech, an Associated Press roundup that at least was made available today to run in newspapers around the U.S. noted that many viewers are finally taking the first step toward seeing this inept regime for what it is: a corporate welfare setup for the oil bidness and defense contractors. Here’s how the AP story started:
Two refugees had nothing but profanities to utter after President Bush’s speech from New Orleans. A casino dealer said Congress was to blame for the slow response to the hurricane, not the president.
Americans watched Bush’s speech Thursday with mixed expectations. Some were glad the president acknowledged again the government’s failure in its initial response to Hurricane Katrina; others were angry, saying the speech was too little, too late.
Finally, people may be starting to see through all the evangelizing — of which, once again, there was a lot, thanks to his born-again adviser and speechwriter Mike Gerson. For example, Bush noted:
Religious congregations and families have welcomed strangers as brothers and sisters and neighbors.
This isn’t the first time he’s borrowed from Matthew 25:35 to tap into the subconscious of Americans who have had Bible verses pounded into their heads. As I recently pointed out, anyone can quote that verse, which in the New International Version says:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.
Bush’s repeated religious references and his promises to make things right down on the Gulf Coast — not to mention his crew of dim-witted lawyers (Mike Brown) and other vultures (Joe Allbaugh) — remind me more of Matthew 23:25:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
The POTUS’s speech was peppered with sanctimonious crap, like this stuff:
• Steve [a Biloxi firefighter] told me this: “I lost my house and I lost my cars, but I still got my family … and I still got my spirit.”
• … a faith in God no storm can take away …
Naturally, he made room for the profits of greed, promising “creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama.” Sounds like the prosperity gospel to me.
And believers couldn’t have missed the coded message of this passage from Pastor POTUS:
These trials have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know — with the help of grace and one another. They remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death, a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with hands.
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Christ, it was Isaac Watts, the early Eighteenth Century minister sometimes credited with inventing English hymns, who wrote one of these poems set to music called “There Is a House Not Made With Hands.” It starts like this:
There is a house not made with hands,
Eternal and on high;
And here my spirit waiting stands,
Till God shall bid it fly.
Is it possible that Bush’s bullshit will no longer fly? He and his spirit — or lack thereof — are still around, but there is hope, ye unbelievers. Watts’s second verse promises:
Shortly this prison of my clay
Must be dissolved and fall …
As I write this, the Bush regime has only 1,221 days left.
On the other hand, that’s plenty of time for the president’s handlers to come up with plenty more mischief — and more God-talk to try to justify it.
Exactly one year ago today, during the heat of the presidential campaign, Alan Cooperman of the Washington Post wrote a front-pager on Bush’s God-talk. In “Openly Religious, To a Point,” Cooperman quoted Reverend Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal evangelical mag Sojourners, as recalling other Bush speeches larded with the Lord and noting that Bush and Gerson are “very gifted at crafting references that religious insiders will understand and outsiders may not.”
A year later, it’s almost funny to read this passage from Cooperman’s excellent piece:
In Plan of Attack, a book about Bush’s decision to go to war by Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward, the president is quoted as saying that he prayed “for the strength to do the Lord’s will” in Iraq. “I’m surely not going to justify the war based on God. … Nevertheless, in my case I pray I will be as good a messenger of his will as possible,” Bush told Woodward.
And remember that Bush once told Southern Baptist militant lobbyist Richard Land, “I believe God wants me to be president.”
Messages about invading Iraq, messages about going to the bathroom, messages about running for president — the message from God to respond quickly to Hurricane Katrina must have gotten lost.
Plenty of Christians don’t buy into Bush’s bullshit. As Cooperman wrote last year:
Wallis, the Sojourners editor, said Bush has adopted a “theology of empire” that suggests God is on America’s side and confuses the nation with the church.
During Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address, for example, he evoked an old gospel hymn when he said, “Yet there’s power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people.” What the hymn says, however, is that there is “power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb.” The hymn, Wallis said, is about the power of Christ — not the power of the American nation, or any nation.
“It’s a good thing, and a normal thing, for religious people to have a sense of calling as a pastor or a teacher or a journalist or a politician. But I think this goes farther,” Wallis said. “It’s almost a sense of divine appointment for this president and this war on terrorism. … When it comes out as ‘They’re evil and we’re good,’ and ‘If you’re not with us on all issues, then you’re with the evildoers,’ I think it’s bad foreign policy and dangerous theology.”
And how well, really, does the president know the Bible? Bush’s ark for New Orleans sucked.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 16, 2005