Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush


Due to a special purchase, we are able to offer at a reduced price his pre-election (2004) hardcover scathing critique of Bush's faux moral stance. We weren't able to fit it in to our premium schedule before the last Bush campaign, but it hasn't lost any of its punch -- not one iota. The gap between Bush's moral self-righteousness and his duplicitous behavior has just gotten worse and more brazenly hypocritical.

Here is what one reader had to say about it: "In this book, Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, studies the ethics of President George W. Bush. More than any other President, Bush justifies his policies in terms of the fight of good against evil. In Part 1, Singer contrasts Bush's rhetoric of opportunity with the reality of class. Bush's faith-based politics cover class-based economic policies. He claims to uphold a culture of life, while freely using the death penalty, even for mentally retarded prisoners. He opposes stem cell research, despite its contribution to prolonging life.

"He boasts that the USA is the freest nation on earth, despite the evidence. In Part 2, Singer looks at Bush's international role. Claiming to uphold free trade and generous aid, Bush spends more on subsidizing 25,000 US cotton growers than he provides in aid to Africa. After 9/11, he stretched his aim from attacking Al Qaida to toppling the Taliban regime. Singer shows how the attack on Afghanistan was not just, because Bush rejected negotiations, so the war was not the last resort that it should have been. Nor was the war for a just cause, because it went beyond what was necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks. And he allows US forces to use interrogation methods that the State Department calls torture when other governments use them.

"The war against Iraq was a diversion from the just war against Al Qaida, and has only increased the threat of terrorism. Pax Americana, like the old Pax Britannica, is just an endless series of imperial wars, strategically and morally wrong. In sum, Singer shows how Bush (like his lackey Blair) uses value-talk to claim that he is moral, despite all the evidence. When his policies fail to produce the good results he predicted, he blames other, 'evil', people. The worse the consequences, the more moral the rhetoric.

"Finally, we should recognize that Bush's lies and confusions consistently serve the interests of the US ruling class. These interests conflict with the interests of workers everywhere, and with America's real interests, the interests of American workers, the vast majority of the American people."

BuzzFlash has always been baffled by how Americans and the Democratic leadership can fail to hold Bush and his cult responsible for the failure of their actions. In an age of mass media, the Democratic leadership appears totally intimidated by the artificially created "perception" of Bush, as if they were an opposition party to a film character.

But the utter failure of the Bush presidency in deed should far outweigh the attention that the Democratic leadership and the media give to Bush's false piety. Even if he were sincere about this "Godliness," it doesn't matter since he acts like someone fallen from grace, not a believer.

We recently heard someone repeat this mantra: "Judge by the deed, not the creed."

If only we could reach that point when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove were accountable for their incompetent and dangerous actions, not their sanctimonious Hollywood religious script and fear mongering.

Anybody can claim to believe in God, to commune with God; that just takes a few heartfelt words (or in Bush's case, volumes). But the only way we have of knowing God's work on earth is through deeds; and -- by that benchmark -- Bush fails so miserably, you would think he's a mole of the guy from the netherworld.

It's the deed, not the creed, as "The President of Good and Evil" illustrates.

Never has there been a nation held so hostage to a fiction of character and policy that is so publicly contradicted by the harmful reality of the very same.

Peter Singer is the Ira W. Decamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. You can find out more about Singer here.



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