Monday, October 18, 2004

This past weekend I'd the opportunity to read one of the scariest pieces of journalism on the Bush administration in recent months from the New York Times (username: jefftest, password: jefftest). And why should I care? Because this guy has personally affected, and still is affecting, my and our collective lives. If terrorist wants to do something bad in Australia, the place that I often go to in the city is the ideal spot. And so, I'm angered by the things that the Administration has done and at the stupidity of it all. Singapore's ministry of foreign affairs is so slaved to the US alliance that their official statement regarding their stand on Iraq was such because "we don't want to see the US abandoned." John Howard's foreign policy is also tied to the US' agenda. Doesn't anyone dare to say 'no', any more? For many months now, I've wondered about the high opinion poll ratings that Bush has been getting, and it didn't make a lot of sense. It didn't make sense because it's plainly obvious that this guy is not fit for the job, then why are so many people still sticking with him? One of the main reasons is fear. The PR machine has very successfully ingrained it in the citizens of the war on terror and the need to be 'resolute', never mind the repercussions of current US foreign policy. Another reason for Bush's population is probably his conservative base, the so-called Christian Right demographic. The marketing is so good that Bush is the default 'God's man'. He has traditional family values, is pro-life, and is making the country safer. The concern is that Bush is hardly a Conservative in the traditional sense of the word. He's neo-right wing, way out of the mainstream. Back to the article at the NYT I was talking about. Now the reason this article is so scary is because it attempts to explain the appeal of Bush, and at the same time delineate why the Administration has lost its way. One obvious observation from most people who had watched the three Presidential debates with John Kerry is that Bush cannot see reality, or choose not to. What happens when one attributes this to 'faith'? The article describes how the voices of those around him who disagree with his views are systematically removed, directly or indirectly, to such an extent that there wasn't a reality check to be found. The management of the Presidency has turned into a 'faith-based' operation rather than one based on reality and reasoned argument. Iraq is going badly. There was no post war planning. There was a plan to win the war, but no plan to win the peace. No, I don't want to hear it. Your foreign policy is creating new terrorists, increasing hatred all around, and making the country less safe. That's not true. Everyone wants freedom, and we'll give it to them; that's the destiny of the United States of America. I have faith that the good Lord wants me to do this. And his conservative base love this sort of thing. What an inspiring and good man. Strong, resolute, never wavering, never faltering. But as Kerry reminded us, one can be certain, and yet, wrong. It's useful to compare this with the opposition. Al Qaeda, although a bad organisation made up of murderous monsters, works almost entirely on faith. I think few would volunteer to be a suicide bomber if he or she doesn't not have faith of the rewards/respect to be had later, among other motivations. In this respect, both the terrorists and Bush operate on a similar level: based on faith. And that's the most chilling part. Now, one would ask, isn't faith in God a good thing? That's a fair question. But I believe God not only gives us the ability to have faith, we are also given the rest of it, like reason, intellect, and wisdom, which Bush doesn't seem to have a lot of. I think there's a precedent to this sort of question about faith. When Jesus is tempted in the desert for 40 days, the last thing that the Devil tempts Him with is to challenge Him to jump from the top of the temple (Luke 4). "Angels will be sent to rescue you." the Devil suggests. Jesus answers, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." I could be wrong, but I think what Jesus is trying to say is this, "You have a brain, so please don't be stupid." Jumping off from a high place is not a show of faith, it's actually an obscene act of defiance. Firstly, there are rules of physics that are indicative of the masterful work of Creation. You want to challenge that? You want to tempt that? Who on earth do you think you are? Reason, intellect, and plain old common sense thus come into the picture, not just faith, or as I'd like to think it, it's a different and misguided sort of faith. Bush knows he is a man of faith. I think he's sincere in his thinking, but so are the terrorists. When faith pushes out everything else, something's wrong. The biggest problem is, Bush doesn't see that yet. He has forgotten Matthew 5:9, "Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." And that's the saddest thing of all.

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