The Philosopher President

H/t to Leiter and others for this:

>At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.

>Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world? What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil I’m facing? How will history judge what we’ve done? Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? Or is it just me they hate?

>These are the questions of a president who has endured the most drastic political collapse in a generation. Not generally known for intellectual curiosity, Bush is seeking out those who are, engaging in a philosophical exploration of the currents of history that have swept up his administration. For all the setbacks, he remains unflinching, rarely expressing doubt in his direction, yet trying to understand how he got off course.

>These sessions, usually held in the Oval Office or the elegant living areas of the executive mansion, are never listed on the president’s public schedule and remain largely unknown even to many on his staff. To some of those invited to talk, Bush seems alone, isolated by events beyond his control, with trusted advisers taking their leave and erstwhile friends turning on him.

Two questions: (1) which philosopher would you send to converse with Bush (don’t recommend yourself please)? (2) how does he or she answer Bush’s questions?

9 thoughts on “The Philosopher President”

  1. I don’t know of any living, working philosophers (it’s not my bag, baby). Can I recommend someone from another field, say science or political commentary?

    I need to think about this for awhile…


  2. cornel west, who could explain to bush that democracy is not compatible with nor allied to imperialism.

  3. That’s a good recommendation, pm. It’s tough, though, because his recent courting of thinkers notwithstanding, this President *seems* like a man fairly immune to “philosphizin’.” Maybe Bruce Springsteen could help him learn to empathize with people in *every* station of American life. Or is that too glib?


  4. I suppose I should also have asked which theologian the President ought to talk to. But again–commenters, how would they answer Bush’s specific questions?

  5. i think that’s a taller order to fill than you imagined it to be. bush’s questions seem to be the sort of questions he already knows the answer to, but will seek “counsel” until he finds an intellectual who will give him the answer he already hears in his head. if a president ever asks this question: “What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil Im facing? ”
    he probably should never have been president in the first place.

  6. Albert Camus, who would direct Bush to examine his own conscience and realize that he, like the rest of us, are all guilty of pride and hypocritical judgment, and that our freedom from the unexamined life derives from our ability to pass sentence on ourselves as well as others. He would recommend a self-prescribed penance consisting of a constant ego-breaking critical introspection, often leading to the recognition that one’s motivations seldom derive from noble or idealistic beliefs. The realizations that occur from this type of activity should be enough to destroy Bush’s febrile confidence and allow him to authentically embrace true compassion for others.

  7. This is a great, great post. Seriously.

    1) I’d urge Bush to consult Christ in the Scriptures.

    2) There, He speaks of the manner in which He deals with nations versus the manner in which He deals with individuals.

    If Bush has the faith that he suggests he does, those passages would seemingly be of utmost importance to him. It seems consulting them would throw much light on the questions he’s professedly entertaining presently.

  8. Sorry, you asked for suggested answers to Bush’s questions as well.

    1) What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world?

    The same as it’s always been. (Genesis 3:15, Romans 8:7, Matthew 6:24, etc.)

    2) What lessons does history have for a president facing the turmoil Im facing?

    That a nation who professes the Gospel of Christ is, in the end, the only friend to Israel. And that a friend of Israel is an enemy of Islam, because a friend of Israel is an enemy of Satan. Because Israel is God’s people of promise, and Satan seeks at all costs to prove God’s promises empty. Also that Satan has raised up (and is raising up) a false religion to garner world support and annihilate Israel, so that God’s promises for Israel cannot then come true, so that God can be shown to be a liar.

    3) How will history judge what weve done?

    History can’t judge anything.

    4) Why does the rest of the world seem to hate America? CausOr is it just me they hate?

    Because America is a last bastion of the Gospel (publicly), and as God has clearly said, the Gospel is an “offense” to mankind. (See also John 15:20).

    To sum up:
    Blessed is the nation who’s God is the LORD (Psalm 33:12).
    The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psalm 9:17).

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