The text for today's sermon is taken from the Huffington Post blog. These words were written by a well-intentioned University of Chicago law professor. Clearly, the sentiments expressed are sincere and the attitude they express admirable:
"It is time for President Bush to take a stand. Despite his cynical and exploitative support of a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, he has long maintained that he is a compassionate and tolerant person who has no gripe against gays and lesbians, as such. He just thinks marriage is only for heterosexuals....I believe Mr. Bush truly holds these values, but thus far in his presidency has been too timid to act on them. As a lame duck with increasingly negative public opinion polls and a doubtful place in history, this is the moment for Mr. Bush to "go to China." He can restore his personal credibility and create a lasting legacy for himself as a moral leader by announcing his support for federal legislation prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, education, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation."
In the late 1930's in Europe, two attitudes prevailed concerning Adolf Hitler. One was embodied in Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" pronouncement following his summit with Hitler in Munich, the other in Winston Churchill's "wage war" speech. We can leave it to history to decide which of these approaches was more effective. Perhaps Chamberlain was afflicted with that persistent liberal malady, a belief in the innate perfectibility of man. Churchill did not labor under such an illusion. He knew Hitler was evil and his intentions were debased. He would be defeated in one way, through superior power.
Is Bush like Hitler? I would suggest that they share one relevant characteristic: the relentless drive to accumulate power. In Bush's case, this has been manifested in many ways, from his fetish about secrecy; to his tendency to label large groups of people who may or not have done anything wrong "enemy combatants"; his enthusiasm for torture; his unprecedented and unconstitutional use of signing statements to eviscerate acts of Congress; his open defiance of federal law concerning wiretapping and surveillance of Americans; and his refusal ever to compromise on issues such as troop withdrawal, firing his Secretary of Defense or atoning for lies about WMD, Saddam's connections to 9-11 or the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity by his immediate staff.
And in Bush's case, there is something paradoxical about this obsession. He is quite obviously a man of very modest intellectual "gifts," little strategic vision and poor judgment. The only apparent effect of his steady drive toward power is to potentiate the damage he can do to the United States and to the world.
Nevertheless, there it is. It is pointless to appeal to Bush's "better angels." They simply don't exist except as projections of decent people. It is difficult for normal humans to imagine a life devoid of a functioning conscience, where all decisions are subsumed under an overarching desire to appear powerful and to inflict damage to demonstrate that power. This is Bush's delicate psychological construct, and it explains everything.
For a most recent example, it explains Bush's recent trip to Baghdad. The man is getting a little desperate. Suppose the House of Representatives turns Democratic in November? Bush's remaining two years in office will become a living Hell and he knows it. He absolutely HAS to hold on to power until he can get safely out of office under the protection of a blanket pardon, such as that which Arlen Specter is drafting for him in the guise of "amending" the FISA law. Bush knows that Iraq is an irremediable mess. The ruse of a Camp David "retreat" was necessary simply to make it possible for him to go there, for the first time in nearly 3 years. He spent 5 HOURS there, in Baghdad's Fortress of Solitude, the Green Zone. It is astounding that the media do not comment on the jarring contrast between Bush's resumed "swagger" and the conditions under which this President was forced to visit his greatest foreign policy "triumph."
But these illusions are everywhere in the modern Fun House America, the House of Mirrors. But liberals, please: stop asking Bush to be nice. Stop asking him to be consistent and "compassionate." Stop asking him for anything. Tell him the way it's going to be by making his life that living Hell he so richly deserves.