In a televised Republican presidential candidates debate in Iowa in 1999, George W. Bush responded to a question about which "political philosopher or thinker" had influenced him most by stating, "Jesus Christ, because he changed my heart." At the time, many Americans ascribed this to intellectual paucity (he himself has stated, somewhat proudly, that the Bushes "arent serious, studious readers" and confides that he now reads only headlines, not news articles) as well as to an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Christian Right, an important Republican constituency.
But events over the past three years, combined with Bushs messianic rhetoric, suggest that national policy may have been determined by his personal religious beliefs.
The low-tech, antiquated sectarianism of the Piscean Age, the Age of Belief, is winding down, and the high-tech, futuristic secularism of the Age of Aquarius is gearing up, but while Pluto sojourns in Sagittarius, Fundamentalism of all stripes has been on the rise. Before Pluto began his passage of the sign regulating religious structure and dogma, I had written, in the Gemini 1994 issue of Welcome To Planet Earth:
"Pluto in Sagittarius will also signal the revival of fundamentalism to a degree unprecedented in modern history, with disturbing ramifications globally.... Fundamentalist violence will be on the increase; the arming of the Faithful is a decidedly Pluto Sagittarius concern.... Violence linked to fundamentalist terrorist groups is just beginning to reach its stride. Religious war has been a Piscean Age theme, and the call to arms in the service of God will not yet fall on deaf ears."
The 2000 election was the first "open" presidential election (with no incumbent running) in the U.S. since Pluto entered Sagittarius in 1995, and it has brought us our own version of this Fundamentalist revival in the White House (albeit Dubya was installed and not elected). To determine the extent that Mr. Bushs beliefs direct national policy, we need to examine what those beliefs are, how they may affect his decision-making process, and what the roots of the birth chart show us.
Dubyas conversion to Fundamentalism occurred in the late 1980s under the aegis of a weekend visit to the family compound in Maine from the Reverend Billy Graham, a noted apocalyptic preacher and End Times zealot. Graham has latterly softened his message somewhat, perhaps to broaden his appeal to financial donors. There is an alternate version of this conversion which says that the change was spurred by Laura Bushs ultimatum to Dubya, whose first 40 years were marked by considerable drinking and carousing, that he choose between "me and Jack Daniels."
Whatever the motivation, once bitten, Dubya seems to have taken to the Faith with sincerity. His follow-up to Grahams induction was with Dr. Tony Evans, a Dallas pastor who was instrumental in the founding of the controversial "Promise Keepers," a fundamentalist organization geared to motivating Christian men and boys, with a decided political agenda. Evans assistant pastor, Dr. Martin Hawkins, has stated that Evans taught Bush "how the world should be seen from a divine viewpoint."
S. R. Shearer of Antipas Ministries has written that:
"[M]ost of the leaders of the Promise Keepers embrace a doctrine of 'End Time' [eschatology] known as Dominionism. Dominionism pictures the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the people of God as the only means through which the world can be rescued.... It is the eschatology which Bush has imbibed; an eschatology through which he has gradually (and easily) come to see himself as an agent of God who has been called to restore the earth to Gods control, a chosen vessel, so to speak."
In Bush at War, Bob Woodward relates a conversation with Dubya, who is expounding upon the necessity of ridding the world of evil in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. "We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great nation," declaims Dubya, and Woodward writes that he "was casting his mission and that of the country in the grand vision of Gods Master Plan."
In his 2003 State of the Union speech, less than two months before the Iraq War began and while alternatives to conflict were still supposedly being sought, Dubya stated, "With the might of God on our side we will triumph over Iraq. God will watch over our troops and grant us a victory over the threat of Saddams army. God will bless us and keep us safe in the coming battle." In discussing the run-up to war with Bush for his new book, Plan of Attack, Woodward asked if Dubya had consulted his father, George Bush 41, for advice. George Bush 43's response was that "there is a higher father I appeal to."
Adding corroboration is the statement of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who says that during a June 2003 summit with Bush and Sharon, Dubya told him, "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did."
But perhaps more to the point are the details of the Fundamentalist End Times philosophy espoused by those instrumental in the development of Dubyas religious outlook, which explain much of the Bush Administrations policies, attitudes, actions and reactions to world events.
Essentially, Christian Fundamentalists claim that the Bible is a literal document, tracing both the literal beginnings of the world in Gods creation some 5000 years ago, and also detailing its literal end in an apocalypse, perhaps not many years hence. As the worlds structures collapse, an Antichrist emerges to deceive the peoples of the earth, and a final battle between Good and Evil occurs at Armageddon, which biblical scholars place in the Mid-East, somewhere in Iraq. When Good triumphs, Jesus returns to judge humanity, birthing a new heaven and a new earth, and afterward reigns in peace and glory for a thousand years.
Dominionism specifically is an offshoot of this "traditional" apocalyptic vision related in Revelation, which has a very militant emphasis. Not content to wait upon the Lords good timing, Dominionists attempt to promote the systems breakdown and create an environment conducive to the apocalypse which must surely be nigh. And Apocalypse and Dominionism, remember, are espoused by Dubyas chief spiritual mentors.
The Reverend Rich Lang of Seattles Trinity United Methodist Church writes in "George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism" that much of governmental policy can be attributed to this End Times eschatology. He states that as applied by Fundamentalists, this philosophy has:
"...at least five political implications that affect each one of us here today. First: Israel is to be exalted and defended no matter what they do to the Palestinian people.... Second: institutions like the United Nations are not to be trusted because they are the tools of the Antichrist.... Third: since the world is passing away the environment is not of great importance.... Fourth: the trust that Jesus died for my sins is far more important than the teachings of Jesus. This fosters a ... religious expression that insists that Jesus in my heart is more important than my lifestyle, [actions, or decisions].... Fifth: a leader who loves Jesus is to be followed as Gods man of the hour."
Certainly this laundry list of Fundamentalist goals and precepts is disturbing when compared to the Bush record:
- Bush's recent support for Sharons annexation of a portion of the Palestinian West Bank (one of the crucial elements still to fall into place before Christ can return in the End Times scenario is the restoration of Israel to its ancient borders, which can be taken so far as to include Egypt and Iraq);
- Bush's disregard for the UN as a global authority or even interlocutor among nations in conflict;
- Bush's pullout from the Kyoto Protocols, gutting of the Clean Air Act, dismissal of the threat of Global Warming, and attempts to open the Alaskan ANWR wildlife preserve to drilling;
- Bush's statement that Jesus was his favored philosopher because he "changed his heart;"
- The fanatical devotion of the Christian Right to the Bush administration.
Bushs rhetoric in the aftermath of 9/11 has been inflammatory to the extreme. Within days, on September 16, he was already calling our response "this crusade, this war on terrorism," and forewarning the American people that it might "take awhile."
Bush backed off the crusade rhetoric in the aftermath of the firestorm that resulted, but the terminology has surfaced again in a March 2004 campaign fundraising letter, which praises Dubyas leadership in the "global crusade against terrorism." His almost daily warnings of the "evildoers" following 9/11 reached crescendo at the 2002 State of the Union speech, when Dubya touted his "Axis of Evil:" Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Now one of those states is in American control, and when asked a question recently regarding Irans recalcitrance with UN nuclear and weapons inspectors, Bush declared "they will be dealt with."
Dogmatic, unquestioning adherence to beliefs is a characteristic of monotheistic religions and particularly their Fundamentalist members, and Bush betrays all the arrogance and confidence of a True Believer. In an interview in 2000, Dubya stated, "Im not one of those people who say, Gosh, if Id have done it differently... I cant think of anything Id do differently." Witness also his embarrassing, spaced out contemplative pause at the Press Conference on April 13, 2004 when a complacent Dubya, standing amid the wreckage of his Iraq policy, was unable to come up with a single example of a mistake hed made.
He announced to world leaders at the G-8 conference in 2001, "Look, I know what I believe, and what I believe is right." With Fundamentalists, there is no possibility of mistake; confidence is always high, however much reality may attempt to intrude. To Bob Woodward, Bush stated "I do not need to explain why I say things. Thats the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I dont feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
Is Dubya delusional? He certainly sounds like it at times. On the afternoon of his second gubernatorial inauguration in January 1999, he called Southern Baptist leader Richard Land and several close colleagues into his office and announced, "God wants me to be President." Taken along side his statements to Abbas about smiting al Qaeda and Saddam at Gods behest, we can well wonder.
Ralph Nader has referred to Bush as a "messianic militarist." In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor in April 2004, Nader said, "We are dealing here with an unstable president.... We are dealing with a messianic militarist. A messianic militarist, under our constitutional structure, is an unstable office-holder. Talk about separation of Church and State: it is not separated at all in Bushs brain, and this is extremely disturbing."
White House spokesmen were quick to react; Trent Duffy avers that Bush "believes deeply" in the separation of Church and State as a "bedrock cornerstone of our democracy.... Having said that, he has a strong personal faith, but he leaves that at the residence before he enters the Oval Office." That assertion may come as a surprise to some of Bushs aides, who are reported by Stephen Mansfield in his book The Faith of George W. Bush as discovering Dubya "face down on the floor in prayer in the Oval Office."
What can we glean from a look at Dubyas birth chart?
Born 6 July 1946 at 7:26 AM EDT in New Haven, CT, Dubyas 13 Cancer sun is the cornerstone of his national success. An exact match for the U.S. Sun, it enables people to identify him with the nation easily, despite his apparent mismatch of skills and temperament (do we really want a blustering, bullying, smirking, language-challenged cowboy to represent us before the world?).
His Cancer sun may also be the source of his own self-identification with the nation. Increasingly, Dubya speaks in terms not of "we the American people," but "I the American leader." Already in response to the 9/11 attacks Bushs statements were personal: "I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for the freedom and the security of the American people." In his 2003 State of the Union address he again stated, "I will defend the freedom and security of the American people." He has already established himself in these statements as our savior.
This sun placement also squares the USA Saturn at 14 Libra, and is exactly square Black Hole Nemesis at 13 Libra. This affords Bush both an additional claim on the US presidency, albeit an embattled one via the square, but also implies a dramatic shift or change in personality at least once in the lifetime via the Black Hole, a Deep Space anomaly noted for its instability and propensity to enact the sudden volte face. This could indicate a genuine spiritual conversion, a 180-degree change of direction sparked by a life-altering experience, or merely the facade erected to create this appearance.
For a Messiah complex to become entrenched, one would expect to see prominent placements of Neptune and Jupiter. Neptune would represent the spiritual motivation for such a self-image, as well as the irrational disconnect from reality necessary to sustain it, while Jupiter implies an inflated ego and the basis of dogma, scripture or philosophy required to construct the Messianic model.
Dubya has Neptune at 5 Libra, exactly conjoined a Quasar and in broad square to his sun, and Jupiter at 18 Libra, in square to Black Hole Hel at 19 Capricorn and also square his sun. Neptune/Quasar could certainly be the footprint of the Messiah. It denotes one who is firmly wedded to their faith and receives much attention for itthat is, someone who has a "high profile" or visibility level with matters of faith, or who could be seen as a spiritual leader of charismatic proportions and immense influence.
Fortunately for us, this is Dubya were talking about here. Quasars, which current astrophysics theory posit to be fueled by supermassive Black Holes at their centers, are the brightest, furthest objects in the universe, and promote pervasive manifestation and sometimes, high achievement. Bushs successful use of his Neptune/Quasar contacts has propelled him into the worlds pre-eminent position of power, which when one considers his manifest unfitness for the high office he holds, is quite a feat.
Certainly Neptunes influence in Dubyas life is stronger than would seem normal from its comparatively modest chart placement; consider his early-to-mid-life excessive alcohol use and allegations of substance abuse at this same time, his failed oil business ventures, and his Fundamentalist conversion, all Neptune arenas. Neptune/Quasar has been exerting a strong pull throughout.
This Neptune is also exactly square the nations Jupiter, which at 5 Cancer conjunct a Black Hole is also broadly conjunct Bushs Sun. So this interweaving of Bushs natural dynamic is reinforced and inflated by the nations horoscope, perhaps awakening the sleeping giant of Messianism in Dubyas psyche. His own self-inflation and self-delusion from Jupiter and Neptune square his Sun are compounded by the hyper-identification with the nation through the exact solar conjunctions, and the added inflation from the nations Jupiter on his sun, then given a focus on the presidency via his Jupiter and Neptune conjunctions with the nations Saturn.
Further points to note are Bushs Vesta and Moon placements; each of these archetypes symbolizes security issues in one form or another, and the Messiahs mission is to save us from the evildoers and provide security from our would-be oppressors. Dubyas Vesta at 3 Aries forms a tight T-Square with the U.S. Jupiter and his Neptune, while his moon at 16 Libra ties closely to his Jupiter and the nations Saturn, also squaring his Sun.
How sincere is Mr. Bushs profession of faith, and how literally does he take the beliefs inculcated by the Fundamentalist movements which have influenced his spirituality? Most "born again" Christians encounter regret and remorse for the ways they have previously lived their lives and the prior choices they have made. As we have seen, Dubya eschews such introspection. In addition to the alternate version of his conversion, not at the behest of Christ, but the ultimatum from his wife, there are the contradictory statements of those who knew him well in his Midland, Texas days, when as an alcoholic failed businessman Dubya first heard the calling from the Lord.
Don Jones, a fellow parishioner from Midland, reports Dubya was quite a cut-up in Bible class, cracking wise and setting his watch to go off in the middle of the lesson if he got bored. Significantly, Jones, who like most Fundamentalists can point to a specific moment when the love of Jesus entered his heart, has never heard Bush describe an actual "conversion experience." Bushs own "testimony" (the Fundamentalist term for an individuals expression of Faith), taken from his 2000 campaign literature, describes a more gradual, touchy-feely process, rather than a moment of inspiration and an awareness of sin and the need for redemption. And Mike Conaway, another close friend from the Midland years, has stated regarding Dubyas conversion, "I didnt see any change in his behavior. I thought thats what is supposed to happen when a person becomes a Christian. But I didnt see that in Bush."
So we are left wondering, as at the beginning of this article, just how genuine Mr. Bushs protestations of faith are, and how much political expediency plays a part in his religious utterances. Are they rhetorical flourishes to justify the Administrations policy to the Christian right base, covering a cynical manipulation of circumstances to advance an agenda of global American hegemony, or are they indicative of a genuine belief in Fundamentalist precepts and End Times eschatology? And which of these is the scarier prospect?
Mr. Bush certainly has the right to espouse whatever beliefs suit him; but is it suitable for him to direct national policy based upon them? Is it proper for the Administration to disdain and neglect the environment, simply because Mr. Bushs theology tells him this world is ending shortly anyway? Is it proper for the nation to support Israel no matter what their actions, because without their continuation and aggrandizement there can be no Second Coming of Mr. Bushs savior? Is it proper to lead the country to war in Iraq, perhaps in hopes of spurring the apocalypse of Armageddon? These questions need to be answered before the American people decide who will lead the country for the next four years.