Hey everyone, this is Ron Gold reporting:
During his eight years as president, there was always speculation that George W. Bush believed his decisions were guided by God. Since leaving office, these suspicions have only intensified. For example, take this nugget:
[There] are new accounts emerging from France describing how former president Jacques Chirac was utterly baffled by a 2003 telephone conversation in which Bush reportedly invoked fanatical Old Testament prophecy – including the Earth-ending battle with forces of evil, Gog and Magog – in his arguments to enlist France in the Coalition of the Willing.
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins,” Bush said to Chirac, according to Thomas Romer, a University of Lausanne theology professor who was later approached by French officials anxious to understand the biblical reference. Romer first revealed his account in a 2007 article for the university review, Allez savoir, which passed largely unnoticed.
Chirac, in a new book by French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, is quoted as confirming the surreal conversation, saying he was stupefied by Bush’s reference to biblical prophecy and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”
Assuming Bush really did receive divine guidance, this still leaves many questions. For starters, exactly when did Bush believe he communicated with God? Perhaps on 9/11, when he was appeared entranced by My Pet Goat, he was actually receiving messages from God about Gog and Magog.
Also, were all of Bush’s actions guided by God—including the clearing of brush on his Texas ranch and his lengthy golf vacations—or just his foreign policy decisions?
Learning that a former president probably thought he was fighting in a war “willed by God” is unsettling, to say the least. Of the many possible drawbacks, the worst one might be the illusion of infallibility. When someone thinks they are performing God’s will, they aren’t going to second guess themselves or be self-critical in the least, even after making a clear error. This fits the Bush profile; indeed, he was famously unable to list a mistake of his during a press conference.
Now contrast Bush with President Obama. With the exception of a certain type of conspiracy theorist, Obama is widely considered to be the type of Christian who finds his faith very important. But unlike Bush, there is no indication that he thinks he communicates with God, or for that matter, that he believes we’re living in the End Times. Even if Obama holds his share of irrational beliefs, they are on a totally different level than those as his predecessor.