Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Real George Bush Revealed, The Real Europe Unmasked

“The word integrity comes from the same Latin root as integer and historically been understood to carry much the same sense, the sense of wholeness: a person of integrity, like the whole number, is a whole person, a person somehow undivided. The word conveys not so much a single-mindedness as a completeness; not the frenzy of a fanatic who wants to remake all the world in a single mold but the serenity of a person who is confident in the knowledge that he or she is living rightly.”

-
Stephen L. Carter - Integrity

There have been some absolutely fascinating dispatches from Europe since President George Bush began his visit earlier this week. Upon reading them I was reminded of the story attributed to Mark Twain. Like any young man he’d come to a place where he was convinced that he was absolutely brilliant and that his father, the “old man,” was as dumb as a telephone pole. He held this opinion for a few years until life’s ups and down, twists, and so forth taught him a valuable lesson. There was an occasion where the two got together to discuss life after those years and Twain, in a fit of inspiration noted that “I was amazed at how smart “the old man” had become in such a short span of time.”

A collection of the dispatches follow to illustrate my point:


“BELGIUM: HET LAATSTE NIEUWS observed (6/15): "Prime
Minister Verhofstadt
now knows why George Walker Bush was elected president of the
United
States: because of his charm and enchanting personality... Bush's
trip is
a real 'operation charm.'"

“ENGLAND: The TIMES observed (6/14): "President Bush urged
America's NATO
allies to abandon their Cold War mindsets and jettison the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty as he made a passionate case
yesterday for
building defenses against the threat of missile attack from rogue
states..."

“FRANCE: Jean Quatremer opined in left-of-center LIBERATION
(6/14):
"Yesterday, during his brief address at the NATO summit, the U.S.
president managed a tour de force as he showed the Allies'
reservations
toward Missile Defense to be outdated and obsolete...."

“FRANCE: Marc Paolini in centrist LA TRIBUNE (06/15): "George
W. Bush
continues to amaze Europe. Twenty-four hours after his
performance before
the Atlantic Alliance, the new American president accomplished
another
perfect performance in Goteborg.... He impressed the participants
with
his knowledge of the issues, his authority over his team, and his
overall
cleverness..."

“ITALY: Alberto Pasolini Zanelli in leading center-right IL GIORNALE
(6/14): "But for sure the U.S. president scored a considerable
success
upon his debut at a NATO summit and managed to do so much
quicker than
most observers on both sides of the Atlantic expected."

POLAND: Jan Skorzynski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (6/15):
"George
W. Bush began his tour of Europe in an impressive way.
Decisions on the
second round of NATO enlargement made at the Brussels summit,
which was
attended by the U.S. president, is very good news--and not only for
the
aspiring countries, but also for Poland...."


It’s absolutely amazing. Europe now seems to be smitten by a man who a few short months ago had been considered a fundamentalist fanatic or a barbarian.

What caused this dramatic about face? Was it, as some Europeans believe, his charm? Or was it his engaging personality? Was it his cleverness? I think it’s all that and more, and it’s the things beneath the surface that most Europeans seem to be missing.

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “It’s integrity, stupid!”

What Europe and many in the American press have misunderstood about George Bush is that he is a man of integrity in the manner described by Stephen Carter in my introduction. George Bush is a “whole man,” not a divided political hack whose integrity is only skin deep, changeable depending on the direction of the political winds.

Having now seen him in person, Europe is marveling. He seems to be far more clever than they have given him credit for. Oh, and is he ever charming. The only thing that seems to be missing themselves is Mark Twain’s confession. George W. Bush hasn’t had a radical transformation in the past four years. Europe is finally seeing him as he is and has been. What they are seeing on the surface is rooted in deeply and firmly held beliefs about his role on the world stage and what that means to America and the world.

It’s interesting that all of this is happening in Europe at the same time when a “friend” named Doug Wead released a series of secretly recorded audiotapes of conversations he had with the President in the late nineties. Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t consider someone who would tape private conversations and then release them to the press because “I just felt that the historical point I was making trumped a personal relationship.”

What’s interesting to note is that the private George Bush is the same George Bush we see in public. Few of us can say that. I’d have to admit that there are times when the private Phil Dillon is different than the public Phil Dillon. Knowing that I’m thankful I don’t have friends like Doug Wead. As an interesting aside, how would you like this man to be your pastor? Thankfully he’s now a former Assemblies of God minister. But can you imagine how much grist for the sermon mill his parishioners must have made.

But back to my original post, Europe and George W. Bush. I can’t say that Europe has seen the light, but I do think it’s fair to say that their eyes are now open. That’s progress. Europe, which had been “misunderestimating” this man is now seeing that, as he has always said in his political life, George Bush is a man “who says what he means and means what he says.” That, in turn, should now mean that Europe understands that America under the leadership of George Bush also “says what it means and means what it says.”

I believe this could be a very significant breakthrough. It could mean that Europe would now take a closer look at itself and shed its air of superiority, seeing that the continent has been covered by a cloak of insecurity and sham since the end of the cold war. Maybe Europe is now being unmasked, much like Mark Twain had to unmask his own attitudes about his father. I think that’s healthy for Europe and world security.

I read an interesting opinion piece by Janet Daley in today’s edition of London’s Daily Telegraph. I found the following words especially enlightening and instructive:

“I have written before on this page that European hatred of the United States has a great deal to do with jealousy of American self-belief. But there is an element of shame there, too. Because Europe knows that it has sold the pass. It has traded liberty for security: the safety of consensus, the reassuring unfreedom of bureaucratic control and an over-regulated economy.”

“American talk about spreading freedom is not just gauche; it is a reproach.
But it is too late now. Europe has had disillusionments too great to permit a return to that purist belief in the transforming power of democratic institutions. What was left standing in the ruins of the Bonapartist experiment was effectively demolished by the two world wars. The people - with nothing but the raw franchise - will never be allowed to run amok again. Europeans cannot be trusted to govern themselves. Their affairs will be administered by an EU oligarchy. And if they do not trust their own populations, European leaders are scarcely going to support handing out freedom to anarchic tribal societies that scarcely know what the right to vote is for. (Never mind that the only way to learn the value of democracy is to practise it.)”

So, Europe has seen George Bush and they seem to like what they’ve seen. But I also think they’ve now seen themselves as many of us on this side of the Atlantic have seen them for years. How did Bob Dylan put it? –

“Well, didn't I risk my neck for you,
Didn't I take chances?
Didn't I rise above it all for you,
The most unfortunate circumstances?
Well, I have had some rotten nights,
Didn't think that they would pass.
I'm just thankful and grateful
To be seeing the real you at last.”

I’d like to think that this visit and the dose of reality that came with it will not only mean a thaw in the relations between Europe and the United States, but that it will somewhere downstream in history mean that Europe will belly up to the bar and take more responsibility in the war on terror, building viable democracies in Iraq and the Middle East, and supporting the economic development of Eastern Europe.

I think that’s along way off. A thaw in relations is one thing; fundamental strategic change is another. But then, who knows. Europe “misunderestimated” George Bush. It would be wonderful to see at some future date that we’ve “misunderestimated” them as well.

5 comments:

James Fletcher Baxter said...

[The following applies to President Bush as he confronts the Europeans with Transcendent Criteria that enables the mind of man to rise higher than his eyebrows.]

Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The
balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason
cannot fully function in such a void, thus, the intellect
can rise no higher than the criteria by which it perceives
and measures values.

Old World humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However,
as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater
than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance
and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason
to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the
rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.

Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot
invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks
a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent
criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight
and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight,
man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly
committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and
worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship.

The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with a
functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the foot-
dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior. Faith,
initiated by the Creator and revealed and validated in His
Word, the Bible, brings a transcendent standard to man the
choice-maker. Other philosophies and religions are man-
made, humanism, and thereby lack what only the Bible has:

1.Transcendent Criteria and
2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.

The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival equip-
ment for today and the future.

Man is earth's Choicemaker. He is by nature and
nature's God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria.
His unique and definitive characteristic is, and of Right
ought to be, the natural foundation of his environments,
institutions, and respectful relations to his fellow-man.
Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom whose roots are in
the natural Order of the universe.

"Tally-Ho, Georgie!"

John said...

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http://www.stoptheaclu.blogspot.com

Thanks, I will be adding you to my blogroll.

Dr. Andy Jackson said...

FYI. I will feature this post on SmartChristian.com/blog soon. Andy

recoveryroad said...

George Bush, a man of integrity? Thank you so much for posting this; I can't remember when I last laughed so long and so hard.

A few quotes from Europe's right-wing press and the sins and lies of Bush are forgiven and forgotten? Noooooooo. I don't think so.

Interesting blog, btw.

regards

Begalke said...

Great blog! Found you on blog explosion...

Begalke