Presidential SealSo if Bush failed as a truly principled president, was he therefore a post-modern president and thus a successful post-modern president?  In the previous essay, it was argued that Bush could have been a successful principled president but he failed at that task by compromising numerous historic principles of justice, conservatism, and capitalism.  Now this does not mean he is not a Christian or that he was personally unethical.  What it means is that at times (more and more as the years wore on) he obviously compromised these principles in developing public and social policy.  And even when he believed that he was practicing those principles he failed at clearly articulating those principles to the American public.  He will undoubtedly go down as the worst communicator among modern presidents.  His failure to stand consistently principled and his inability to articulate the principles he did hold have turned the American people against him and made him a laughingstock. Does this make him post-modern?

He did have the chance to be a great post-modern president in the image of Bill Clinton..  He had a great American story fall right into his lap.  All he needed to do was to keep America united beginning with the events of 9/11 and the story which came out of that.  Post-moderns are great story-tellers, ignoring the truth of the story.  For the post-modern it is power that matters and not whether the story is true.  Images are for power-broking.  The story was dropped into his hands on 9/11 but he failed; He was just too poor of a story-teller.

A better post-modern president could have used this to make sweeping changes toward a new revitalized America that he had created.  In post-modernism there is no essential country.  America or any country is defined by the image that those in places of power create.  Successful post-modern politicians are those who are able to re-invent themselves and re-invent their dominions as the political climate changes.  One can mock this view by sarcastically portraying the modern politician asking himself what he believes on a particular topic and then the politician quickly turning to his advisor and asking her to “quickly take a poll so I can know what I believe.”  Philosopher Richard Rorty has called it “achieving our country.”  There is no America, we have to create it.  Bush failed in this and so his popularity tumbled.

Bush tried to build an image of strength after 9/11 and told a good enough story about Weapons of Mass Destruction to unite the country for war.  But this ultimately failed.  He was caught in the apparent lie and even if it wasn’t a lie, the post-modern media which was not interested in the truth but in discrediting the president, were better post-moderns than Bush.  Thus it does not matter whether there really were weapons of mass destruction; what matters is that Bush wore the mantle of failure for the inability to find these weapons (I believe they had been moved out before we arrived).  This image stuck to him.  Today no one knows really why we are fighting. If we have a legitimate basis, then Bush and his administration have failed to sell the American public on the reason.

The image that sticks is that it is Bush’s War, not America’s, so the Democrats and the media have made this Bush’s legacy.  Bush was personally principled.  He still believes in doing the right thing. I think that he has himself convinced that he has ruled in a principled manner. The problem is he does not know what the right thing is.  He is not biblically grounded enough to rule as a principled Christian and he is not personally deceptive and immoral enough to succeed as a post-modern.  Because of that he gave in and compromised his principles based on his own personal “feelings” (and I speculate upon the advice of unprincipled advisors).

Bush’s convictions are not strong or deep enough.  I think that he still believes himself to be a fiscal conservative even though the national deficit has climbed to over a trillion dollars.  Because of this lack of principled depth, he has been too willing to compromise, and on the other hand he is too personally principled to become sold out to post-modernism.  He could not compete with the post-moderns who created an image of him that is far worse than he really is.  And for principled Christians Bush has failed by overseeing a government that has become more idolatrous than ever before wanting to oversee all of life.  Furthermore we’ve been in a prolonged indefensible war, failed to act swiftly on the economy, and showed an inability to articulate in succinct ways why principled social values need to be observed by all.  Thus I conclude then that Bush is a man without a country.  He failed in achieving a new America, a successful post-modern America, and he failed in understanding and maintaining the historic Constitutional and moral principles that is grounded in and guided by Eternal Truth. We should be rejoice that he failed as a post-modern but devastated at his failure as a truly principled ruler.  Oh, for a true Christian Statesman!

Series NavigationPost-Modern Success and A Failure of Principle; The Post-Modern Presidency- Part IIWhat Lies Ahead; Postmodern Presidency- Part IV