Sins of the Bush Administration
By Tab Julius
George W. Bush's administration has done much to legally
blur the separation of Church and State - more than any administration
in recent history. George Bush himself makes frequent personal
references to God and implies that he is serving God in a
fight of Good vs. Evil. He goes so far as to hold prayer sessions
at the White House with staffers before meetings.
Our government, once secular, is clearly becoming more religious.
Is this a good thing? Well, many would argue not. There are
those, of course, who would argue that it is a good thing,
but invariably if and only if it corresponds to their religion.
Jews aren't going to argue that a Christian government is
a good thing, any more than Christians would prefer a Buddhist
Since Bush fancies himself a Christian, and is taking stances
on many subjects that match those of his pro-Christian conservative
base (e.g.: anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-stem cell
research), we can conclude that if our current government
is becoming more religious, then the religion it is embracing
If so, we are now within our rights to ask the question:
Has our Government sinned?
Yes, that was the question. Is our government, and its administration,
being a good Christian?
Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Presumably he'd support one against abortion as well, but
since he hasn't said so, let's work with gay marriage. Personally
I don't care what other people do, but apparently this issue
so concerns the adminstration that it would feel justified
asking Congress to introduce a consitutional amendment. Not
to focus on the economy and jobs, not to advance international
relations, nor combat terrorism. Gay marriage is apparently
one of the major problems facing this country, according to
As such, we must assume that Gay Marriage Is Bad. Terrible.
The worst thing we have to deal with. And yet, it's not one
of the seven deadly sins. Therefore it must be a lesser sin.
We also have the ten commandments. "Men should not Know their
fellow men" is not in there. Thus it must not be as bad as
breaking one of the ten commandments either.
Therefore, for this to be an issue of such import that the
administration must focus the considerable resources at its
disposal to resolve it, we must assume that worse problems
have already been dealt with. It must be the case that the
Bush administration is so free of sin that we're already done
with the seven deadly sins and the ten commandments, and we
have nothing left to go after except gay marriage.
That would be nice. Unfortunately that's not the case.
Let's start with the ten commandments. Actually there are
variations on the wording of the commandments, the wording
varies based on the interpretation; the King James Bible has
one set of wordings, the Catholics have another, the Hebrew
interpretation is yet one more. For now, though, let's go
with the Catholic list, since the wording is short and basic.
1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.
4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
The first three are basic housekeeping, the fourth is a
recipe for good family relations, but commandments five through
ten, the "Thou shalt nots" are pretty specific. How does the
Bush administration stack up here?
Thou shalt not kill.
Sometimes killing is a necessity, granted, but at a minimum
one can assume that one should at least not take pleasure
in killing, or kill needlessly. As Governor of Texas, Bush
presided over executions at an extraordinary rate - one every
two weeks. In the run-up to the 2000 elections, Bush proudly
stated that in Texas "we put 'em to death". When asked about
a woman he had just decided to put to death, who had asked
for clemency on the grounds she had become a born-again Christian,
Bush mocked her. "Please," he whimpered in mock desperation,
"don't kill me".
But it doesn't end there. The Iraq war has taken hundreds
of military lives, and that's just the U.S. military. Add
in civilians, and then add in Iraqi soldiers, and you have
a significant death toll well into the thousands. If the war
was entered into on the basis of fabricated evidence, as most
now believe, then you again have a blatant disregard for human
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
The government per se cannot commit adultery, only individuals
can. Unlike those who impeached Clinton, I don't believe that
the personal sexual relationships of our leaders are any of
our business (unless it shows a blatant hypocrisy in their
values, in which case it would then be our business). As such,
this commandment cannot apply.
Thou shalt not steal.
Halliburton. Oil. Votes. There is a long list in this category.
Just those three are enough for now.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Neighbors as in both neighboring countries, and also as
in local neighbors (fellow Americans). Certainly in bearing
false witness against neighboring countries, we've just had
two years of exposure to lies and false claims regarding Iraq.
We've also had suppression of the truth here at home, in many
forms, from preventing Medicare cost info from getting out,
to blocking the 9/11 commission, to falsely linking Saddam
Hussein to 9/11, and more. The lies to our citizens and the
lies made about other countries is becoming a very long list
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
We can lump this in with adultery for the purposes of this
discussion. An administration cannot covet a wife, so this
commandment does not apply.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
Well, well. Let's start with oil in Iraq, shall we? The
United States doth hath been doing much coveting. And pipelines
in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, and other resources throughout
I think a pretty good argument can be made that the administration
has failed on at least four of the ten commandments. Given
that the other six are pretty hard for an administration to
violate (adultery, neighbor's wife, honor parents, and the
three housekeeping ones), it's clear that the administration
has violated any of those that it COULD violate.
No administration is perfect. But if one prides itself on
its religious ties, then it should be called to task for any
hypocrisy it exhibits. Hence the list.
But we're not done - we still have the seven deadly sins
to look at. As a reminder, they are:
1. Pride 2. Avarice/Greed
This is not pride as in bring proud of your children, or
of being proud of your country. This is pride, vanity, and
ego, as in the opposite of humility. The U.S. swaggers. This
administration tells other countries to be with us or against
us, without respect for what they think. This administration
has little respect for their opinions, and doesn't even consider
that maybe the rest of the world is right and this administration
is wrong. That is pride and vanity and ego at its worst.
Not just money and things, it is also the opposite of generosity.
To be generous is to be giving, not just materially, but in
things like being gracious and sharing the spotlight. This
adminstration has sought to claim credit for No Child Left
Behind, which it initially opposed, but also the 9/11 commission,
which it initially opposed, and the department of Homeland
Security, which it initially opposed, and also for initiating
motions which it later gutted or didn't fund (like the billions
for New York). I would also put failure to take responsibility
for actions in this category too. And if you want to just
go with the straight materialistic interpretation of greed...
oh, don't get me started.
As opposed to love, and a close relative of Avarice/Greed,
this is an administration that cannot attribute good to anyone
not in their camp. No inherent good of the Democrats, nothing
Clinton did was good, the administration spoke ill of France
and Germany and saw no good in what they were trying to do.
Many failures on the envy score are covered in the 'coveting'
section of the ten commandments. There is envy for absolute
power - of office, of intelligence. The Patriot Act is a coveting
of freedoms. The administration cannot accept that others
might choose differently for themselves, whether it might
be speech, abortion, choice of religion, and it envies and
covets those freedoms only for itself.
As opposed to kindness, a jump to anger is the opposite
of diplomacy. One can get more flies with honey than with
vinegar, but this administration has been quick to anger and
seek retribution. Press corp members asking a delicate question
risk being cut off from future access. Countries not "with
us" are penalized - we were quick to demand that everyone
follow us into Iraq and when the rest of the world demurred
we sought penalties against France and others. The Bush administration
is angry whenever anyone questions their motives. They feel
they owe no explanation to anybody.
As opposed to self-control, this administration's lust (similar
to coveting) is powerful. Lust after power itself, refusal
to answer questions, but also lack of self-control as shown
in impatience to go after Iraq, and angry responses when questioned.
Lust after oil, control of Congress, lust after its own agenda,
forgetting that it represents all Americans and that it must
represent everyone's interests, not just their tight conservative
base. And need I mention lust after the office of the President
after 2004? Much of what this administation has done has been
driven by lust to stay in power, what is politically fruitful
to the Bush camp, not necessarily what would make good policy
As opposed to temperance, this administration has been unabashedly
going after what it wants, and what it wants it wants in incredible
quantities, without regard to the long term effects. Huge
tax cuts, more than are fiscally prudent for the country.
An oil base in the mideast, without regard for our military
position or ability to maintain and secure it (or the cost
to get it). As much faith integration into government as possible,
without regards to others, or the constitutional separation.
An effort to force the whole country to their positions, be
it abortion, prayer, or even, yes, gay marriage.
As opposed to Zeal. The administration has a lot of zeal
for their own agenda, but for the needs of the country there's
a lot of sloth happening. Bush set a record for vacation time
prior to 9/11, on 9/11 itself he exhibited an incredible amount
of sloth - people like Rudy Giuliani were the real ones on
site. Bush didn't leap into action - he sat in a classroom
for 20 minutes after the second plane, and then got on a plane
and didn't show his face for a long time. There's been a lot
of focus on fund raising for elections, but little on issues
that confront America. And the number of military funerals
attended by Bush? Zero. Were that his zeal for fundraising
and Iraq applied to actually running the country and getting
Americans back to work and respecting the people he serves.
So, has this administration sinned? Let's see... it has
broken all of the commandments that an administration can
break (excluding the six that don't apply to an administration)
and violated each of the seven deadly sins. Obviously there's
some work to be done on the most basic issues before it goes
after minor things like gay marriage or stem cells.
Perhaps before the administration speaks so rightously about
how others should behave, it should take a good look, as its
god might do, on how it behaves. If it truly looked at its
worshipped commandments and prohibitions, it might find, as
we all do, that there's a sinner in all of us. In some ways,
this administration is the biggest sinner of all.