Ron Siskind has a great profile/piece in the NYT Sunday Magazine on Bush and the coming war in the GOP, as he puts it, “a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.” The piece is frightening, because even his closest advisers now see that Bush is running his White House in the same manner as an Islamist-type regime he condemns and seeks to destroy — dismissive of facts and based on fixed religious convictions alone.
Bush’s top deputies — from cabinet members like Paul O’Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to generals fighting in Iraq — have been told for years when they requested explanations for many of the president’s decisions, policies that often seemed to collide with accepted facts. The president would say that he relied on his ”gut” or his ”instinct” to guide the ship of state, and then he ”prayed over it.” The old pro Bartlett, a deliberative, fact-based wonk, is finally hearing a tune that has been hummed quietly by evangelicals (so as not to trouble the secular) for years as they gazed upon President George W. Bush. This evangelical group — the core of the energetic ”base” that may well usher Bush to victory — believes that their leader is a messenger from God. And in the first presidential debate, many Americans heard the discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first time, the issue of Bush’s certainty — the issue being, as Kerry put it, that ”you can be certain and be wrong.