Bruce Bartlett, as quoted in the New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind, expressed a lot of what has worried me so much about George W. Bush and the neocons:
“Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me [Bartlett] recently that ‘if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.’ The nature of that conflict [will be] a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
“‘Just in the past few months,’ Bartlett said, ‘I think a light has gone off for people who’ve spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he’s always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.’ Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican … , went on to say: ‘This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can’t be persuaded, that they’re extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he’s just like them. …'”
Fundamentalism, as I see it, is the following of a teaching — a rhetorical canon — without expression of doubt, either for fear of retribution (divine or worldly), or due to lack of exposure to other ways of thinking about the world. People who are exposed to fundamentalist “teachings” for long periods of time, are very likely to discount out-of-hand, any other belief system, point of view, or even undeniable facts which are in opposition to their beliefs.
So, here’s some food for thought: George W. Bush has probably lead a very sheltered life — one in which he has been given little exposure to ideas outside his norm, and in which he has been restricted to expressing himself within a very narrow lane of what was acceptable.
His attendance of Ivy-league universities and private schools would have only added to any already-present feeling of social isolation. Indeed his service in the National Guard may have served to isolate him further, and if common understanding is to be believed, he chose to isolate himself further still, through inattendance of his Guard duties.
Bush’s spiritual “re-birth” seems to have created a sense of resolve that he had found the path of salvation, and that his beliefs must be the Right ones. Other points of view became unworthy of Bush’s attention.
Personally, I would call this self-righteous, but it’s important to point out that Bush’s sense of self-righteousness would only have been reaffirmed by his closest advisors, for at least the last 8 years, and probably longer. In that kind of bubble, Bush couldn’t possibly understand how his decisions affect those who are outside of his small circle of support.
What was it that Paul McCartney said about the “Boy in the bubble?” Is Dubya the “baby with the baboon heart?”