Bush's messianic militarism was on full display on March 11, when he addressed, via satellite, the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado Springs.
First, acting as pastor in chief, he said, "You're doing God's work with conviction and kindness, and, on behalf of our country, I thank you."
Separation of church and state, anyone?
Bush charged right through that wall, citing religion as his basis for opposing stem-cell research, abortion, and same-sex marriage.
He also ignored the wall when he returned to his favorite, post 9/11 theme: that God is calling America to free the world, and Bush himself is heeding that call.
"America is a nation with a mission," Bush said, not afraid, in this crowd, to connote the crusade he is on.
"We're called to fight terrorism around the world," he said, intentionally using the religious term "called," a term he has repeatedly invoked over the last two and a half years.
"As freedom's home and freedom's defender, we are called to expand the realm of human liberty," he said. Viewing himself as the Great Liberator, he said, "By our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 50 million people have been liberated from tyranny."
And then he laid the religion on thick: "Yet I know that liberty is not America's gift to the world-liberty and freedom are God's gift to every man and woman who lives in this world."
Follow the logic here: If God's gift is liberty, and if Bush has liberated millions, then he is God's delivery boy.
Now while Bush may invigorate himself by aligning his policies with the presumed wishes of the Almighty, there is something deeply offensive about foisting this theology on our constitutionally secular government.
And the tautological conviction that whatever he is doing he is fulfilling God's will defies democratic discussion and debate.
With his messianic strivings, Bush may not be satisfied believing that he has liberated 50 million people. He may feel it is his religious duty to liberate 22 million more living in godless North Korea.
The President told Bob Woodward in "Bush at War" that Kim Jong Il's massive prison complex "appalls me." He added: "It is visceral. Maybe it's my religion, maybe it's my-but I feel passionate about this." Toying with the idea of toppling Kim, Bush said, "I just don't buy" the argument that we need to worry about the financial burdens South Korea might have to assume if North Korea collapses. "Either you believe in freedom, and want to-and worry about the human condition, or you don't," he said.
The problem with such black-and-white thinking is that it could lead Bush to make a rash decision to attack North Korea.
The toll, according to the Pentagon's own war games, would be astronomical, perhaps as high as a million. But notice that Bush did not count the casualties of the Iraq War or the Afghan War. Everyone there was liberated, according to his speech, even the dead.
Copyright 2004 The Progressive