Terry Eastland writes in this week’s ’Weekly Standard’ an article entitled ’Bush’s Gospel.’ The article argues that George W. Bush’s social, domestic, economic, and foreign policies are strongly guided by one simple principle: Love Thy Neighbor. Eastland argues that the compassinate trumps the conservative in Bush and his Presidency.
Here’s an extended excerpt, Eastland writes: "Indeed, central to George W. Bush’s motivation as president is the ethic of "neighbor-love," as it is called in Christian circles. We’re not accustomed to a theological reading of a presidency. Yet it’s evident, as Bill Keller of the New York Times wrote last year, that Bush’s faith is "the animating force of his presidency." What hasn’t been recognized is that neighbor-love in particular is what moves Bush and has helped shape his presidency. His faith teaches him to "love thy neighbor as thyself," and he approaches his job with that imperative in mind. ...Three aspects of Bush’s faith stand out. One is his belief that God is in providential control over all that happens, including in his own life. Bush, who describes himself as a "lowly sinner," has told friends and associates that but for God’s intervention he would now be in some bar in Texas, not the Oval Office. A second is his belief that, whatever happens in God’s providence, he is to accept and carry out each task set before him. Not incidentally, the title of Bush’s campaign biography, "A Charge to Keep," was drawn from "A Charge to Keep I Have," the Charles Wesley hymn, which speaks of doing "my Master’s will" and fulfilling "my calling." After the attacks of September 11, Bush believed that the charge of defending freedom had fallen providentially to him, as commander in chief of the United States, and this remains for Bush his highest priority. Yet even this task he sees in terms of a third aspect of his faith: neighbor-love. For Bush, "love your neighbor"--the second great commandment for Christians--is an injunction to be followed in every human task, however big or small it may be. In this understanding, Bush is hardly exceptional, for loving your neighbor is the calling of every Christian. ... In his 2003 State of the Union Address, Bush said, "The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. . . . Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men." ...Of course, the universe of evil men includes terrorists, who have designs upon innocent people beyond the more than 3,000 killed by the attacks of September 11. They have continued to murder innocent people, a point Bush made last year in his speech at Whitehall when he cited the post-9/11 terrorist attacks in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombassa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Istanbul. And, by every reckoning, the terrorists intend to kill more innocents. As Bush sees it, both justice, because what the terrorists do is evil, and compassion, because their evil is committed against innocent people, demand a military response."
Eastland argues that it is not only in big policy questions that ’Love Thy Neighbor’ guides Bush but he is effecting changes in all agencies and departments of the Federal Government in light of that principle. Quite an amazing article.
A crank might say that the original neo-con is not Leo Strauss but Jesus of Nazareth.