''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''
The whole thing's worth reading, as it lays out the fanaticism of George W. Bush and the Bush base. Mary of The Left Coaster has an excellent follow-up post that reminded me that I need to re-read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer - Hoffer's book offers a good synopsis on the psychology of mass movements and their potential for destructiveness.
As I see it, Mary essentially nails it in this passage:
Our modern world is facing two implacable threats based on the fanatism of mass movements facing off against each other, but joined in their mutual hatred of the modern heathen world. Those of us in between these fanatics must find ways to defuse and defang them or face the consequences of granting them power over our futures.
Those mass movements she's referring to? The Christian fundamentalists whose leaders have been increasingly effective in utilizing the GOP to force their radical social and political agenda on us, and Islamic fundamentalists who have been using whatever tools they have at their disposal to force their radical social and political agendas on their own people in the Middle East and Central Asia. The fundies from both faiths have undoubtedly been spoiling for a holy war between each other for a while now, but just as importantly they have their own domestic wars to wage against those whom they deem to be infidels, heretics, heathens. Given the mechanisms of a nation's legal and military power at their disposal they can do a tremendous amount of damage, and our recent history has been littered with examples of fanatics of one stripe or another causing mass human slaughter, famine, suffering as they singlemindedly pursue their presumably "utopian" goals. Those of us who are basically modernist in outlook (including Enlightenment-era throwbacks such as myself) have much to be concerned about.
Update: Before I totally forget, here's another follow-up post to the article found on Daily Kos.