God's Politics

This week President George W. Bush ceremoniously vetoed a measure promoting embryonic stem cell research that could help to relieve the suffering of millions, declaring that the bill disregards the sanctity of human life. “I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line,” Bush said.
It is hard to believe that this pronouncement could come from the mouth of a man who has shown a frightening disdain for the sanctity of human life for the entirety of his career in elective office. Here are a few of the examples of George W. Bush’s lack of respect for human life that I document in my book, The Politics of Jesus.
While governor of Texas:
· Bush signed more death warrants than any governor in the history of this nation, at times mocking those he condemned to death, according to conservative commentator Tucker Carlson; at the same time, he was vetoing legislation that would have guaranteed effective counsel to those accused of capital crimes, even though the lawyers of the Texas Defender Service denounced the Texas courts as “a thoroughly flawed system.”
· Bush actively fought against a program passed by the Texas legislature to provide medical coverage to the 500,000 poor children in the state who lacked it. After five years of his active opposition, Bush succeeded in reducing the number of children covered by the program by half, despite his certain knowledge that his actions would result in death and terrible suffering for an unknown number of innocents. All this while he fought for a $2 billion tax cut for Texas’ richest families and a $45 million cut for the oil and gas industry, with this explanation: “These are tough times for the oil and gas industry.”
As president:
· Moments before he was to appear on national television to announce his declaration of war on Iraq, Bush was caught on tape pumping his fist as at a sporting event, declaring, “Feels good,” in what the journalist Paul Waldman called “a glimpse of the president’s vulgar callousness.”
· He not only sent thousands of Americans to their deaths based on lies and knowing deception, he was caught on tape laughing about it at the 2004 gala of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association, in a skit in which he looked under furniture and behind curtains and joked, “Nope, no weapons [of mass destruction] over there… maybe under here?”
· On national television, in the hearing of children, he has openly and gratuitously vowed not to neutralize or capture individuals he calls by name, but to kill them.
· He publicly gloated over the killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons and, in a particularly macabre moment, allowed their mutilated bodies to be put on public display.
There is little question that Bush has exhibited less respect for human life than any president in memory, including Richard Nixon. But what is more troubling, if that is possible, is Bush’s apparent sense that he can deceive the American people with impunity, as if we will believe that he cares about human life simply because he says so, no matter that his every significant policy decision shows that to be a lie.
What is more troubling still, however, is that thus far he has been right—at least with regard to a sizable number of Americans. As long as Bush cries crocodile tears for the unborn—and now the unformed—too many Americans will fail to hold him responsible for his reprehensible disdain for the suffering of innocent children, women and men throughout the earth. And he will continue to make moral pronouncements to mask his immoral policies.
Obery Hendricks is past president of Payne Theological Seminary, an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted.

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