Our President, The Heretic

I think Andrew's right that he slightly misread David Brooks' column on the theological confidence of George W. Bush; on the other hand, this is a case where Brooksian subtlety might have been better supplemented by a dose of Sullivan-style outrage. At this point I'm with Andrew and Rod Dreher: I'm fed up with the President's messiah complex, and I don't bloody well want to hear any more about Bush's "theological perspective" that freedom is the Almighty's gift to all mankind, and so history's on our side in the Middle East, and yada yada yada. (Rich Lowry has more Bush quotes on that theme.) Every time I find myself leaning toward the view that maybe, just maybe, it's good that Bush is being stubborn about keeping troop levels high in Iraq, because we have a moral obligation to prevent a bloodbath and a large and active military presence is the only way to do it, I read quotes like the above and find myself swinging toward Rod's argument that whatever happens when we're gone, not one more American soldier should die for the President's world-historical delusions. Not one more.

In fact, I think Andrew lets Bush off too easily when he says "as a very abstract theological principle, it's hard for a fellow Christian to disagree" with the President's contention that "a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom." On the one hand, there's nothing "abstract" about that particular Christian principle: The gift of freedom that Christ promises is far more real than anything else in this world, if Christian teaching on the matter is correct. On the other hand, there's nothing that's political about that promise, and the attempt to transform God's promise of freedom through Jesus Christ into a this-world promise of universal democracy is the worst kind of "immanentizing the eschaton" utopian bullshit. It's Hegel meets Woodrow Wilson meets James Kurth's "Protestant Deformation" meets the American heresy, and Christians and conservatives alike ought to be appalled by it.

Update: My (somewhat more measured) response to Ramesh is here.