Friday, March 07, 2003

Providence or History?

James Ceaser argues that Bush's reliance on "providence" represents a healthy, Lincolnian alternative to "history." The difference between the two is that with providence, "[a]t the practical level of human affairs, the focus remains on human responsibility and choice." Not so with history. These are important themes for conservatives now, after Ronald Reagan, who injected optimism into conservatism, put doom and gloom into the closet, and, as Grover Norquist said, taught conservatives that they were on the winning side of history. Providence preserves responsibility and choice; the religious understanding (providence) is more politically salubrious than the modern philosophic understanding (history).

Somewhat similarly, The American Scene focuses on Bush's references to God and finds him humble and uncertain of God's wishes or plan. Bush does not view himself as the "president of God on Earth," as le Monde put it. Got that, Joe Klein?


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