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16 August 2005 @ 05:23 pm
Feeling No Pain--The Anesthetized Presidency  
Salon is really on it this week, with a comparison between LBJ's anguish over Vietnam casualties and Bush's apparent indifference (or at best, mild distress) to Iraq casualities. Is Bush so caught up in his glorious picture of Iraq spreading freedom throughout the middle east (and his oil buddies' profits) that he can't spare the time to see the human cost? Or is he one of those zealots who think the soldiers who die are ushered straight through the pearly gates? Does his vision of heaven include the same virgins that the Islamic zealots are dying to meet? Robert Bryce seems to think that it is indeed Bush's blind faith that keeps him from seeing the awful cost of this war in lives and limbs. (And kudos to Six Feet Under this week for highlighting that cost.)

Bush's religiosity is the key element here. He has a total belief in the rightness of his position. But there again comes a key difference with LBJ. Like the born-again Bush, Johnson was a man of faith. But he was a man of many faiths, often attending two churches -- one Roman Catholic and one Protestant -- on a given Sunday. Raised a Baptist, he became an elder at the Disciples of Christ Church near his home in Johnson City. Johnson's intellectual curiosity led him to see that one religion, one worldview, didn't hold all the answers. As Johnson's biographer, Ronnie Dugger, put it, LBJ was "an ecumenical movement all by himself."

Bush's blind faith in his own path -- religious and military -- leaves no room for ecumenism, or doubt. And that lack of doubt, that lack of anguish over the lives being lost in Iraq, is emerging as his fatal flaw. Cindy Sheehan has placed that flaw into the spotlight for all to see.
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