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“When speaking in his own voice, the president transforms his writers’ subtle instruments of persuasion into clumsy parodies of themselves. Even Manichean dualism – a doctrine not known for its subtlety – can be vulgarized in this fashion: “I see things this way: The people who did this act on America, and who may be planning further acts, are evil people. They don’t represent an ideology, they don’t represent a legitimate political group of people. They’re flat evil. That’s all they can think about, is evil. And as a nation of good folks, we’re going to hunt them down.” Bush made these remarks two weeks after 9/11, as the Patriot Act was being drafted, and he made them to employees of the FBI. In this heated context, his blunt language construed Al Qaeda not just as quintessentially evil, but as having no political beliefs and no legitimacy. It also appears that its followers have no legal rights, since his words convert criminal suspects into beasts fit for hunting.

One is forced to conclude that Bush’s theology and his deployment of it are less systematic than pragmatic. Although he fosters the impression that his policies are grounded in deep religious conviction, the reality is often the reverse. Vague notions and attractive terms such as compassion, history, and freedom are given rhetorical, sometimes even intellectual, coherence by his staff. Bush may resonate to some of the ideas and some of the language they prepare for him, but for the most part he uses these to justify policies that have already been decided on quite other grounds. Preemptive wars, abridgments of civil liberty, cuts in social service, subsidies to churches, and other like initiatives are not just wrapped in the flag; together with the flag, they are swathed in the holy.”

~ Lincoln, Bruce. Eds. De Vries, Hent and Lawrence Sullivan. Political Theologies. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006. Pg. 276