George Bush as "born-again maniac"

On the problem of writers using evangelical as a synonym for fundamentalist, here are two paragraphs from the irrepressible Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan is writing about the tendency to treat Bush as the village idiot, but his humorous points are no less valuable:

So then you have the third, milder anti-Bush position: he's simply in way over his head. He's a moron, a Texas buffoon, illiterate, simplistic, and dangerous. Worse, he's some kind of born-again maniac whose main tool of policy prescription is getting down on his knees and thinking of Billy Graham. At some level, this caricature is so comforting, so easy to digest, so superficially true in some respects that it feels churlish to disabuse people of it. Brits like their Americans this way. It makes for great comedy sketches, even better jokes, and soothes the nagging worry that a country run by a certifiable idiot is still "somehow "the most vibrant, diverse and prosperous on the planet. After all, in the new century, it cannot be of that much comfort to Europeans that the one country that was decimated by a terrorist attack at the heart of its commercial capital has already leapt ahead economically of everyone else. If France's third quarter growth rate was 7.2 percent, it might make more sense. But, no. It's the country run by a moron, devastated two years ago by the worst act of war on its soil in history, and governed by know-nothing policies, that is doing so well. So, er . . . let's make fun of the damage Bush does to the English language and compare him to Hitler. That will make us feel better. . . .

The small matter of religious faith also clearly rattles British and European secular opinion. That's understandable, given the very different nature of American and European culture. But in this sense, Bush is not a dramatic exception to the American rule. He is comfortable speaking about personal faith in ways most Americans find unremarkable but most Europeans find odd. But in terms of foreign policy, there is no evidence of this drastically affecting his judgment. He is never given credit for the many times he has emphatically defended Islam as a religion of peace and human dignity; no acknowledgment given to the fact that his main outreach in the 2000 campaign was to Muslim-Americans, not Jewish-Americans, who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats; and similar secularist sentiments were never as routinely expressed about the last born-again president, Jimmy Carter. The only precedent for this kind of contempt is Ronald Reagan. And from the vantage point of history, it's Reagan who now looks good compared to his sophisticated European critics.

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