Better Than Churchill

The beginning of this Sidney Blumenthal column is jaw-dropping:

As witnesses were trooping to the stand in the federal courthouse in Washington to testify in the case of United States v. I. Lewis Libby, and the Washington Post was publishing its series on the squalid conditions that wounded Iraq war veterans suffer at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center while thousands more soldiers were surging into Baghdad, President Bush held one of his private book club sessions that Karl Rove organizes for him at the White House. Rove picks the book, invites the author and a few neoconservative intellectual luminaries, and conducts the discussions. For this Bush book club meeting, the guest was Andrew Roberts, an English conservative historian and columnist and the author of “The Churchillians” and, most recently, “A History of the English-Speaking People Since 1900.”

The subject of Winston Churchill inspired Bush’s self-reflection. The president confided to Roberts that he believes he has an advantage over Churchill, a reliable source with access to the conversation told me. He has faith in God, Bush explained, but Churchill, an agnostic, did not. Because he believes in God, it is easier for him to make decisions and stick to them than it was for Churchill. Bush said he doesn’t worry, or feel alone, or care if he is unpopular. He has God.

Blumenthal doesn’t say how he knows what Bush said at the book salon, and I would like to know that. I would hate to think Blumenthal just made this up, à la Peggy Noonan.

But if Bush said it, what might one infer about Bush’s approach to religion? Does he think God is an almighty rabbit’s foot? Because he “has God” (which is troubling, theologically speaking, in itself) he can’t make mistakes?

Even as Scooter Libby sat at the defendant’s table silently wearing his fixed, forced smile, and Vice President Dick Cheney was revealed by witnesses as the conductor of the smear campaign against former ambassador Joseph Wilson, Bush and Rove felt free to hold forth in their salon, removed from anxiety. Rove had narrowly escaped the fate of Libby by changing his grand jury testimony just before he might have been indicted for perjury. Bush, who proclaimed that he would fire any leaker found in his administration, is apparently closer to Rove than ever. The night before the Libby verdict, the president had dinner at Rove’s house, and Rove sent to the reporters shivering outside a doggie bag filled with sausage and quail wings.

As I said in the last post, I would be extremely surprised if Libby is pardoned. Bush doesn’t do anything that doesn’t glorify Bush. I think he and Karl have already flushed Libby and moved on.

18 thoughts on “Better Than Churchill

  1. I have heard Bush say on TV interviews that he does not worry, he sleeps very well and he is sure he has made all the right decisions. My translation: God is in control, God speaks to Bush, Bush listens, Bush makes decisions accordingly and all is well. He is doing God’s work. Why can’t the people understand that? It is so simple.

  2. Yum, quail. I wonder if Cheney shot them himself.

    This whole “I’m only accountable to God” thing has got to stop. It’s antithetical to American democracy. Blair caught it too, but at least the mainstream British press ridicules him for it:

    “A year ago [Blair] told us that he had prayed to God about his decision to join the American invasion of Iraq and that, since he is a believer, it is how God will judge his actions that most concerns him.”

    From “If God is talking to you, too, Mr. Cameron – don’t listen.”

  3. God is talking to Bush. This is about 20 standard deviations beyond my ability to comprehend.

    And he admits it, in public, and people believe him and do not ridicule him.

    What is he smoking?

  4. My understanding is that Libby still has an option to roll over before sentence is imposed in order to minimize his punishment. Fitzgerald said his investigation is closed unless new evidence surfaces. My belief is that Libby offered himself up intentionally in order to bring Fitzgerald’s investigation to ground with the knowledge that in being the good soldier he would cared for.If Libby gets left holding the bag without the guarantee of a pardon, he might not be so eager to take a screwing for the whole pack of liars. Libby knows the full story. I don’t think Libby’s conviction was part of the game plan. Bush Cheney, Rove and Libby all knew how difficult it is to prove a lie and wagered Fitz couldn’t prove it..WMD’s anybody?

  5. I’m just so stunned at the thought of Bush reading a book, I don’t know what else to say.

    Well, OK, one thing occurs to me. While reading, does he hold it right-side-up?

  6. C’mon now, we don’t really believe that Bush thinks he talks to God. Bush thinks he IS God.

  7. More to gnaw on. Bush may be unaware of this but Rove inviting him to dinner at precisely this time now looks like he was going ‘nyaah-nyaah’ at Fitz, at Wilson & Plame, at every political enemy. Rove’s no stranger to the psychology of the moment.

    Bush, yeah, there’s that Messianic thing again.

    To me, the clue I got about Libby came from Cheney, his boss. After the verdict, he said he felt sorry for Libby AND HIS FAMILY. It sounded like an ‘aspen’ moment. He was clearly signalling “don’t worry, I’ll see to it your family is cared for.”

    The Godfather promised. Which means, if Libby’s lawyers can’t stall off the pen – assuming he actually does any time (remember, the freak hasn’t even been sentenced) – the only way a pardon will occur is in January 2009.

  8. Bush doesn’t worry or second guess because he has God. I feel so much better now.

  9. Well, Bush has a lot in common with Jesus..they both were despised and rejected among men..

    Bush is just so full of shit!…He’s trying to imply that he’s so secure in God’s love that he’s impervious the most basic human need of acceptence..The only human creature for whom that need is not an essential is a sociopath.Aside from that, all the hatred,bitterness,loathing and contempt verbally directed at Bush should serve at least as a navigational point on his moral compass. If you’re sounding off of’re adrift.

  10. I vaguely remember something in the Bible about God helps those who help themselves. I was always told that meant that just because you believe in God and pray, good things will happen. You have a responsibility to work to make things happen.

    If God truly is on George’s side, then there is no God.

  11. There’s a lot of things to say about this, both good and bad. On the one hand, it’s common among evangelicals at least to intend to develop a personal relationship with God, primarily through prayer, in an attempt to find out what God would have the individual do. This is very standard evangelical decorum, and it’s simply patterned after how Jesus lived his life on the earth.

    And it’s not limited to evangelicals or Christians. Paramahansa Yogananda, for example came to America from India in the 1920s with the expressed purpose of teaching westerners how to meditate and contact God through meditation, or what he called inner communion with God.

    And so, secularlists may have problems with the whole notion of contacting God, but it is something that’s a standard part of Christian culture and beyond. For what it’s worth, it’s something I personally strive to do in my own life, as do millions in this country and around the world. Of whatever faith.

    The problem as I see it, is not with people who seek to contact God and have their life directed by this interaction, it’s when you have someone as immature, narcissistic, and all-powerful as George W Bush claiming this as the inspiration for his actions, and using it to deflect any criticism or accountability.

    There was a great diary on DailyKos a few months ago written by a psychiatrist, which included this insight:

    …the way that Bush embraces Christianity is characteristically narcissistic. Rather than incorporating the lessons of humility and empathy modeled by Jesus, Bush uses his Christian faith to reinforce his grandiosity. Jesus is his powerful ally, his idealized “buddy” who gives a rubber stamp to any cockamamie invasion he thinks up…

    The problem with so much of Christianity as it’s practiced today is that it is so superficial, in the sense that anyone can claim they’ve contacted God through prayer. Someone as unbalanced as Bush can therefore claim that God directed him to do all sorts of crazy things, as the psychiatrist noted above.

    By contrast, over the centuries, major Christian figures have come up with criteria for evaluating this sort of behavior. It’s ancient, and I haven’t formally studied it, and I unfortunately cannot provide you with any links. My recollection of what I’m about to say is vague. One of these ancient criteria is that whatever spiritual direction is given to a leader in prayer, it is something that must be verified within the group being led by the leader. In other words, the person receiving direction or revelation from God is accountable to the faith community in which s/he participates.

    By contrast, Bush’s narcissism makes him act like he is special and far above the rest of us. He’s the decider. This by itself should invalidate or render questionable any sort of “revelation” or direction given him by God.

  12. Way back when Jim & Tammy Baker were hot news for their blatent lies and high living while they cried on TV for funds, I wondered about the tens of thousnads of ‘spirit-filled’ Christians who did not have a CLUE what a couple of flim-flam artists they were sending money to.

    Don’t misunderstand me; I respect the true believer (in a variety of religions) who has some connection with the Creator (whoever She is) but being in touch with God does not make you infallible. .

    Last thought, and this is pure opinion since I have not met the man, but Jimmy Carter is a Christian, and he was a sincere believer (and not infallible) while he occupied the White House. He aged a lifetime during the Iran Hostage Crises. That Bush sleeps well does not suggest to me he is more spiritual; it suggests he is arrogant bordering on megalomania.

  13. I’ve always thought it strange that God usually speaks directly to tyrants who kill large numbers of “folks” and southerners who have their own bible based talk shows.God seems to like southerners best, especially white southerners with money, the “saucer” men seem to prefer southerners too, but the poor white ones seem to get the most rides. Perhaps if I speak more southern I can get closer to God and maybe even go on a space ship ride and get probed.Better yet, I can just pretend (oops, I mean “envision”)to be close to God and start my own billion dollar ministry!! God must really like the American flag, because it is featured on all the really popular evangelical T.V. shows.I can’t imagine God liking a flag from some other country, like say Canada, with that silly maple leaf.Good grief, not a single star on that flag, what were they thinking?
    However, If one displays the flag of Israel along with the American flag, why God will grant us all our wishes. He’s one big beautiful Genie, if you rub him the right way….

    It’s more than a “little” strange that the more sane among us might pray to God for direction, but God just plain comes out and talks to the spiritually elite like it’s no big deal. Like a weelky prayer breakfast, manno y big daddy-o.

    The really strange part is that people hear about God telling Bush to invade Iraq, or do some other big thing, and nobody makes a stink about it! Crap, I told my wife that God wants me to buy a new boat and go fishing this weekend, and she says that’s crazy, how come Bush gets a pass on invading an entire country? THIS IS NOT FAIR!!!

    Was it GOD or DOG who was talking to the Son of Sam murderer?
    It’s easy to get them confused, especially if you’re dyslexic……

  14. From the movie The Ruling Class (1972):

    Lady Claire Gurney: “How do you know you’re God?”

    Jack Arnold Alexander Tancred Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney (Peter O’Toole): “Simple. When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.”

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