Waking Nightmare


Bush Tells Group He Sees a "Third Awakening." From the Washington Post:

President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation’s struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil." Bush told a group of conservative journalists that…."A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me," Bush said. "There was a stark change between the culture of the ’50s and the ’60s — boom — and I think there’s change happening here," he added. "It seems to me that there’s a Third Awakening."

The First Great Awakening refers to a wave of Christian fervor in the American colonies from about 1730 to 1760, while the Second Great Awakening is generally believed to have occurred from 1800 to 1830.

I seriously doubt that Bush had ever heard of the first two "Great Awakenings" until a briefer handed him his talking points before the meeting, but still the implications of this story are disturbing. Because it confirms, yet again, the bizarre and dangerous notion that is clearly central to his understanding of 9/11. Bush believes that it was God’s will, God’s way to bestir His people and wake them up from the complacency that had let sin and secularism run loose in the land.

That’s the undeniable implication of his remarks to those assembled "conservative journalists," — and that’s exactly how those True Believers will interpret those words. And why not? It’s been obvious from the beginning that Bush believes the wholesale slaughter of almost 3,000 Americans and other nationals on September 11 was an act of God — what’s more, an act of God performed specifically for him, so that he could exploit the tragedy to re-make the world according to the long-held militarist plan of his handlers.

Even while the Twin Towers were still smoldering with the toxic fumes that Bush’s EPA deliberately downplayed (sending an untold number of rescuers and restoration workers to their deaths or to lifetimes of disease and suffering), Bush was barking out his cynical and callous view of the attack: "Through my tears, I see opportunity." Bush has repeated this line — almost certainly scripted for him by his speechwriters, probably the ever-sanctimonious Michael Gerson (now a new columnist for the Washington Post) — like a mantra for years. It was, from the earliest post-attack days, his central understanding of what had happened. Over and over, like a clanging bell — or the hypnotic ticking of a metronome — he made the connection: "9/11—Opportunity, 9/11—Opportunity, 9/11—Opportunity."

An opportunity for what? This too was made clear: war. Endless war. Again, early on, Bush let drop a remark whose profound importance went almost unnoticed, although it clearly signaled everything that was to come afterward — and is still yet to come: "There’s no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland." This statement was made at a fundraising speech on Aug. 5, 2002.

And now we know why Bush and his cronies need an uncountable number of wars ("no telling how many"), because war is the basis of their "unitary executive theory," which holds that the President cannot be restricted by Congress, the courts or any law whatsoever in his function as Commander-in-Chief in wartime. This radical, perverted doctrine is the rotted heart of the entire Bushist enterprise. And, as we’ve noted here before (drawing on the indefatigable labors of Glenn Greenwald), the U.S. Senate is now poised to accept this doctrine as the new basis of the American state. This week, as Greenwald reports, they have moved even closer to this dread and draconian step.

But all of this is God’s will, Bush believes. Gerson, that cross-gartered Malvolio, tells the story of how he unctuously told Bush that God had wanted him in the White House at such a crucial moment in the life of the nation. Bush, Gerson tells us, nodded sagely and said: "He wants us all here, Gerson." The sycophantic speechwriter tells this story as an example of Bush’s great generosity of spirit; he had even included his lowly scribe in the divine mission God had given him!

Bush’s divine appointment is a theme continually sounded by his underlings. Who can forget the stirring declaration of General Jerry Boykin, who after 9/11 toured churches around the country calling for "Christian warriors" to rise up against the Satanic god of Islam? Sidney Blumenthal recounted Boykin’s tale last year in the Guardian:

At that moment [October 2003, when stories about Boykin first broke], he was at the heart of a secret operation to "Gitmoize" the Abu Ghraib prison. He had flown to Guantánamo, where he met Major General Geoffrey Miller, in charge of Camp X-Ray. Boykin ordered Miller to fly to Iraq and extend X-Ray methods to the prison system there, on Rumsfeld’s orders.

Just before Boykin was put in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and then inserted into Iraqi prison reform, he was a circuit rider for the religious right. He allied himself with a small group called the Faith Force Multiplier that advocates applying military principles to evangelism. Its manifesto — Warrior Message — summons "warriors in this spiritual war for souls of this nation and the world … "

There can be little doubt that he envisages the global war on terror as a crusade. With the Geneva conventions apparently suspended, international law is supplanted by biblical law. Boykin is in God’s chain of command. President Bush, he told an Oregon congregation last June, is "a man who prays in the Oval Office." And the president, too, is on a divine mission. "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the US," [Boykin said.] "He was appointed by God."

And as Barry Lando noted on

….NBC News, and the following day the L.A. Times, reported certain ear-catching declarations by Army Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin. Dressed in his full-dress Army uniform, Boykin told an Oregon religious group in June: "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." In another speech, according to L.A. Times military analyst William Arkin, Boykin showed slides of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, and asked, "Why do they hate us? The answer is because we’re a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers." Our "spiritual enemy," he went on, "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

Boykin is now Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, one of the leading players in the "War on Terror." Proclaim your belief in Bush’s divine mission, and you too can be elevated to the inner circle of God’s world-shaking warriors.

The evidence for Bush’s sense of divine appointment is extensive, but let’s conclude with one last story, the infamous meeting with Sharon and Abbas in June 2003. As I noted in a Moscow Times column that month:

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz was given detailed minutes of a negotiating session between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from Hamas and other militant groups. Abbas, who was trying to persuade the groups to call a ceasefire in their uprising against Israeli forces, described for them his recent summit with Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.

During the tense talks at the summit, Bush sought to underscore the kind of authority he could bring to efforts at achieving peace in the Middle East. While thundering that there could be "no deals with terror groups," Bush sought to assure the rattled Palestinians that he also had the ability to wring concessions from Sharon. And what was the source of this wonder-working power? It was not, as you might think, the ungodly size of the U.S. military or the gargantuan amount of money and arms America pours into Israel year after year.

No, Bush said he derived his moral heft from the Almighty Himself. What’s more, the Lord had proven his devotion to the Crawford Crusader by crowning his military efforts with success. In fact, he told Abbas, God was holding the door open for Middle East peace right now — but they would have to move fast, because soon the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe would have to give His attention to something far more important: the election of His little sunbeam, Georgie, in 2004.

Here are Bush’s words, as quoted by Abbas in Haaretz: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me, I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

So the fact that the Oval Office dullard would not know what the "Great Awakening" was if Jonathan Edwards came up and slapped him across the face with a Bible does not diminish the alarming nature of Bush’s Messianic pretensions. Neither does the fact that he uses these pretensions cynically and shamelessly to motivate a religious "base" that has been deliberately cultivated by the corporate elite to serve its own decidedly secular lusts for money and power. It is entirely possible to be a knowing hypocrite and a fanatic ideologue at the same time; indeed, it is often a prime requirement for national leadership. (See, for example, the history of the Soviet Union for innumerable instances of this trait.) And it is entirely possible for a fatuous, overgrown frat boy to plunge the nation and the world into a literal hell of death and ruin by viewing reality through the lens of his self-inflated ignorance — and shaping his reactions and policies accordingly.