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Can a Jew Go to Heaven? George W. Bush Answered "No" in 1994

"Until Bush backed off this position after Billy Graham told him it was a decision for God, not governors, it was unsettling news for Jews, Muslims, and believers in any faiths other than the Christian perhaps even for backsliding Christians." (more)

Bush joked to reporters about his '94 answer a year or so ago, prior to a trip to the Middle East. According to stories in the Austin American-Statesman, he told reporters that he planned to stop in Israel and tell the Jews they were all going to hell. An exchange of messages between Bush and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League followed. While no one has accused Bush of anti-Semitism, there have been comments about his insensitivity, both toward the Jews and his own family. A Jewish reporter said Bush's remarks were quite upsetting to his son. No one in the Bush family has commented, but there's little doubt that Bush has touched a sore spot in family history.

According to a story in the Albian Monitor,"Prescott Bush, the father of the former President and the grandfather of the current candidate, spent more than a decade helping his father-in-law George Herbert Walker finance Adolf Hitler from the Wall Street bank, Union Banking Corporation. (Union Banking Corp. was eventually seized under the Trading With The Enemy Act. See Office of Alien Property Custodian, Vesting Order No. 248; Filed, November 6, 1942, 11:31 A.M.; 7 Fed. Reg. 9097 (Nov. 7, 1942).) Walker was one of Hitler's most powerful supporters in the United States, and landed Prescott Bush a job as a director at the firm. From 1924 to 1936, Bush's bank invested heavily in Nazi Germany, selling $50 million of German bonds to American investors. In 1934, a congressional investigation believed that Walker's Hamburg-America Line subsidized a wide range of pro-Nazi efforts in both Germany and the United States. One of Walker's employees, Dan Harkins, delivered testimony to Congressional leaders regarding Walker's Nazi sympathies and business transactions. According to US Government Vesting Order No. 248, many of Union Banking's assets had been operated on behalf of Nazi Germany and had been used to support the German war effort. The U.S. Alien Property Custodian vested the Union Banking Corp.'s stock shares and also issued two other Vesting Orders (nos. 259 and 261) to seize two other Nazi-influenced organizations managed by Bush's bank: Holland American Trading Corporation and Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation. Many major firms had dealings with Nazis in the years leading up to World War II, but relatively few engaged in such extended cooperation with Hitler's Germany after Pearl Harbor. (The Secret War Against The Jews by John Loftus and Mark Aarons. New York; St. Martins Press, 1994.) "

More recently, both George W. Bush and his father, the former President, had been forced to deal with anti-Semitism in Poppy's campaign, according to the Albian Monitor story: "Nazism was more than a joke to George Bush when he was running for President.... In the fall of 1988, Vice President Bush had to fire several neo-Nazis and anti-Semites from his Presidential campaign. The scandal erupted when Washington Jewish Week and other media outlets discovered that the Bush campaign harbored well known neo-Nazis, including Jerome Brentar, a holocaust revisionist who claims that the Nazis never deliberately gassed victims of the Holocaust, and Akselis Mangulis, who was involved in the SS-influenced Latvian Legion during World War II.8 George W. Bush, the campaign's hatchet man, fired the Nazis.... After the election, four of these came back to work for the Republican Party according to USA Today. (Old Nazis, The New Right And The Republican Party by Russ Bellant. Boston, MA; South End Press, 1991.)...In September of 1999, when many Republicans were calling for Pat Buchanan to resign from the Party for his seeming affection for Hitler and criticism of the US actions during World War II, the presidential front-runner remained silent."

With George W. Bush's insensitive remarks and the Bush family history as background, one would hope that the Republican candidate for president will practice his newly-found maturity and be particularly wary of , in his words, the "soft prejudice" of callous remarks, wherever he may find them. --Politex, 8/8/00


"A Theological Analysis of the South Carolina Primary." (poem)

"ANTI-SEMITISM" NOW ON THE TABLE RE BUSH."Bush supporters -- none of them affiliated with his campaign, we're told -- circulated fliers calling Mr. McCain the "fag candidate" even as Mr. Bush subtly reinforced that message by indicating he wouldn't hire openly gay people for his administration. A professor at Bob Jones University distributed e-mail accusing Mr. McCain of choosing "to sire children without marriage." (The McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh -- from a Mother Teresa orphanage, no less.) Bob Jones IV wrote a cover story for a rag called World magazine slapping around the McCain family. Mr. Bush had nothing to do with this "religio-political sleaze," as William Safire described it, either, though World is edited by Marvin Olasky, the sometime Bush adviser who invented, if you please, "compassionate conservatism."...

"Now Mr. Olasky has even dragged me into the negative Bush campaign, writing a piece for the Austin American-Statesman implying that journalists who are critical of Mr. Bush have "holes in their souls," practice "the religion of Zeus" and are therefore hostile to the Texas governor's Christianity. The only three journalists he cites by name happen by total coincidence to be Jewish (Bill Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard are the other two). I'm sure it's also a coincidence that Mr. Olasky, a former Jew who converted to Christianity over 20 years ago, has spun this theory at a moment when Pat Robertson is targeting Mr. Rudman, the most visible Jew in the McCain campaign....

"Mr. Rudman takes a less benign view of the invective directed at him. "There's no question in my mind that it's anti-Semitism," he says. "The way they pronounced my name in phone calls! They're unhappy it's not Finkelstein." Nor did he think the Bush campaign was clueless about what was going on....[But] when Mr. Bush says he "wasn't very aware" of Bob Jones U.'s interracial dating policy when he spoke there, we still don't know if he's stupid or just politically cunning....[Bush is] pandering to racists, homophobes, pope-haters, anti-Semites...." --Frank Rich, NYT, 2/26/00

BUSH REFUSES TO REPUDIATE SPECIFIC INSTANCES OF RACISM AND BIGOTRY.

Twenty-four hours before the polls closed in Michigan, Texas political observer Harry Kronberg was casting a marble eye at George W. Bush's smear campaign against Mac, declaring that Dubya left no fingerprints and sent a message to the party bosses that, like his father before him, he demonstrated that he can and will do anything to win the nomination: "The vicious smear campaign against McCain was not conducted on TV. The e-mails, direct mail, whisper campaigns, talk-radio slurs and phone-banking operations were largely invisible to the rest of the country. The worst of the mess was conducted by soft-money surrogate groups so that the Bush campaign had some plausible deniability.... The governor shamelessly appropriated John McCain's reform message, even going so far as to mislead South Carolinians about his role in Texas HMO reform. While cynical on its face, the subtext was ultimately reassuring to Republicans.... But Bush's personal rhetoric stayed above the fray." (AAS, 2/2200) How wrong can one be? With the help of the Christian Coalition's Pat Robertson, the Michigan voters found Bush's fingerprints on the smear campaign and voted accordingly, leading some doubting Republican fat cats to go as far as to call for the head of Bush strategist Karl Rove.

And Bush knew he had been caught. By the time he landed in Kasas City tuesday night and got the news of his defeat, he had a statement designed to bury his smear campaign. But it backfired. First, he gathered the reporters together and loudly said, ""Let me make it crystal clear. I reject bigotry, I reject prejudice, I repudiate anti-Catholicism and racism." This statement follows South Carolina radio ads calling McCain the "fag candidate" and calling attention to his adopted black child. It also follows an attack on Mac backer ex-Senator Warren Rudman by Pat Robertson which some have characterized as anti-Semitic. Further, Robertson called him a "vicious bigot" on the basis of a statement Rudman never made in the book passage Robertson quoted, and then, when confronted by CNN's Jeff Greenfield Tuesday night, Robertson refused to acknowledge his error. It also followed a Mac ad calling attention to Bush's visit to anti-Catholic and racist Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bush said that he was called a "bigot" in that ad. Bush uttered a falsehood and is still doing so, even though he has been corrected by reporters more than once. (Now, he is also implying that he didn't know Bob Jones was anti-Catholic and racist prior to going there, even though the AP reported last week that his aides warned him in advance and Bob Jones trashed his father when Poppy was President.) So are these specific instances what Bush meant when he said he rejects "bigotry, prejudice, anti-Catholicism and racism?" Surely you jest. Bush only repudiates the general idea of racism and bigotry, not the specifics that forced him to make the statement in the first place.

When the reporters in Kansas City asked Bush for specific repudiations of racism and bigotry rather than vague generalizations, Bush clammed up: "Asked if he repudiated the recorded message that Mr. Robertson had put out against Mr. McCain, Mr. Bush said he did not know what the message contained, then quickly switched the focus. "I repudiate the phone calls that came in accusing me of being an anti-Catholic bigot," Mr. Bush said. What about the Bob Jones visit? "I don't make any apologies for what I do on the campaign trail," he said." (NYT, 2/24/00)

In this morning's DMN Karl Rove is quoted as saying there will be no changes made in the Bush campaign strategy, suggesting that we're going to be in for more Bush smears of McCain off camera but in radio ads and telephone push polls, leading the WP's Richard Cohen to write, "Self-described as a "uniter, not a divider," Bush has managed to unite the Christian right, homophobes, zealous antiabortionists, the Rev. Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Strom Thurmond and, it has to be said in fairness, many conventional Republicans, in a coalition so right-wing that should he be elected president, the European Union might treat the United States as it has Austria." --Politex, 2/25/00


Religions Broadcaster Attacks Mac Official "In a recorded message phoned to Michigan voters, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson attacks an official in John McCain's campaign as "a vicious bigot who wrote that conservative Christians in politics are anti-abortion zealots, homophobes and would-be censors."...Todd Harris, a McCain spokesman, did not allege any involvement by Bush's campaign, but said: "This is exactly the kind of politics that we had hoped we left behind in South Carolina. "Pat Robertson and (former Christian Coalition director) Ralph Reed hand delivered Governor Bush's victory to him in South Carolina," Harris said. "The people of Michigan have an opportunity to repudiate these kinds of negative smears."..."We are not making any Pat Robertson calls," said Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker. "Our campaign doesn't know anything about it." AP, 2/21/00


Candidate Christ and George W. Bush

Bush Plays the Jesus Card. "As H. L. Mencken pointed out, religion 'is used as a club and a cloak by both politicians and moralists, all of them lusting for power and most of them palpable frauds.' George W. Bush scored some debate points [in Iowa] by supporting the holy trinity of ethanol, Jesus and soft money. (Didn't Jesus throw those soft-money changers out of the temple?)
When the Republican candidates were asked to name their favorite political philosophers, Mr. Bush replied: 'Christ, because he changed my heart.' Pressed to elaborate, the Texas governor again showed his inability to go deep.
His mouth curled down into that famous smirky look. 'Well, if they don't know, it's going to be hard to explain,' he said. 'When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart. It changes your life. And that's what happened to me.' Translation: You're either in the Christ club or out of it, on the J.C. team or off. This is the same exclusionary attitude, so offensive to those with different beliefs, that he showed in 1993 when he said that you must believe in Jesus Christ to enter heaven. (Mr. Bush has since conceded that only 'God decides who goes to heaven, not George W. Bush.')....
This is the era of niche marketing, and Jesus is a niche. Why not use the son of God to help the son of Bush appeal to voters? W. is checking Jesus' numbers, and Jesus is polling well in Iowa. Christ, the new wedge issue. When you take something deeply personal and parade it for political gain, you are guilty either of cynicism or exhibitionism." --Maureen Dowd

Candidate Christ "and a large crowd of reverent volunteers, all of them broke, were trudging along behind the candidate on the cold highway outside Red Bud, Ill., far from the Iowa caucuses. "If we ever get there, we could win the thing easy," the campaign manager said. "He has very good name recognition. Way bigger than Lincoln." He waved an arm in exuberance. "They can't even steal an election from him by voting dead names. Our candidate will come right in with his Lazarus move. He'll have a million at any poll by nightfall. They may come in shaking a lot of dust off them, but they'll be voters. Candidate Christ, he said, merely by his presence could demolish these temporal politicians who use his name like it was a commercial product. In particular, candidate Bush. "How can he say he carries me, Jesus Christ, in his heart," candidate Christ asked, "when at the same time he stands by while people are put to death?" He spoke in a soft voice that carried for a million miles. The candidate continued, "How can he love Christ and take part in capital punishment? I say to you there have been 112 people put to death so far, while he maintains that I reside in his heart. Did not a woman beg for her life and he refused her? I say to you there will be chastisement for using the name of Christ in vain. My position is to listen to the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to death." --Jimmy Breslin

"Does Bush think that Jesus smiled down upon him as he allowed these 112 executions to take place? Does Bush believe in the Biblical line "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" or does he not? Does Bush accept only part of the message of Jesus while in his own wisdom feels free to ignore the rest? What does he accept and what does he reject? Is Bush a Christian who believes that Jesus preached a philosophy of love and forgiveness? Or does he believe that in spite of what Jesus said and did, the Christian God must be a punishing Old Testament deity, with Bush merely serving as another exterminating angel?...

"Such questions....are not irrelevant when Bush the Candidate makes his religion a major entry in his biography and a reason for some Americans to elect him president.... "On matters of life and death, Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago used to speak about the "seamless web." It was an argument for moral coherence. If you opposed abortion, he said, you must also oppose capital punishment and most wars. Life itself was sacred, said Bernardin; only God could bring it to an end, not someone as flawed as a man. That was a coherent and humane philosophy, whether you were religious or not. Bush, like so many other politicians, wants it both ways: to trumpet his Christian beliefs, while maintaining the freedom to kill human beings." --Pete Hamill

Bush Plays the Jesus Card. "As H. L. Mencken pointed out, religion 'is used as a club and a cloak by both politicians and moralists, all of them lusting for power and most of them palpable frauds.' George W. Bush finally scored some debate points on Monday night by supporting the holy trinity of ethanol, Jesus and soft money. (Didn't Jesus throw those soft-money changers out of the temple?)
When the Republican candidates were asked to name their favorite political philosophers, Mr. Bush replied: 'Christ, because he changed my heart.' Pressed to elaborate, the Texas governor again showed his inability to go deep. To borrow a Dorothy Parker quip, he ran the gamut from A to B. Just as in the last debate, when he was asked to expound on a biography of Dean Acheson, he gave the impression that he thought coughing up an impressive name was quite enough.
His mouth curled down into that famous smirky look. 'Well, if they don't know, it's going to be hard to explain,' he said. 'When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart. It changes your life. And that's what happened to me.' Translation: You're either in the Christ club or out of it, on the J.C. team or off. This is the same exclusionary attitude, so offensive to those with different beliefs, that he showed in 1993 when he said that you must believe in Jesus Christ to enter heaven. (Mr. Bush has since conceded that only 'God decides who goes to heaven, not George W. Bush.')....
This is the era of niche marketing, and Jesus is a niche. Why not use the son of God to help the son of Bush appeal to voters? W. is checking Jesus' numbers, and Jesus is polling well in Iowa. Christ, the new wedge issue. When you take something deeply personal and parade it for political gain, you are guilty either of cynicism or exhibitionism." --Maureen Dowd


Bush Religious News

WP: BUSH BACKS OFF CHRIST QUESTION. 12/16/99
SAFIRE: BUSH INJECTION OF RELIGION "DISMAYING." 12/16/99
THOMAS: PUNDITS REACT TO BUSH "GOD TALK." 12/16/99
DOWD: BUSH PLAYS THE JESUS CARD. 12/15/99
AP: BRADLEY THINKS HIS RELIGION IS "AN EXTREMELY PRIVATE MATTER."
NYT: RELIGIOUS FEAR "HEAVY- HANDED" CHRISTIANITY IN WHITE HOUSE.
WT: IOWA THEOCRATS THINK BUSH DID WELL IN DEBATE. 12/15/99
AAS: BUSH DEFENDS JESUS STATEMENT. 12/15/99
CT: BUSH CONTENT IN CHRISTIAN COALITION'S EMBRACE. 10/2/99
WP: BUSH STRESSES ABORTION RECORD TO CHRISTIAN COALITION. 10/2/99
REUTERS: PROTECT ALL FETUSES--BUSH. 10/2/99
DMN: "LET'S GET IN POWER, THEN MAKE POLICY" --CHRISTIAN BUSH BACKER.
NYT: CAMPAIGN REFORM WOULD GUT CHRISTIAN COALITION--ROBERTSON.
BG: PAT NO SHOWS, OTHER PAT HITS BACK. 10/2/99
AR: DAD'S ADVISER ON THEOCRATS WORKING FOR JUNIOR. 9/19/99
NYT: SUPREME COURT MAY TAKE UP BUSH PRAYER APPEAL. 9/19/99

Bush Jewish News
WP: BUSH DISAPPOINTS HISPANICS, JEWS OVER PAT. 9/28/99
JTA: JEWISH OFFICIALS CRITICAL OF BUSH RE PAT. 9/28/99
COHEN: IN GOP YOU CAN INSULT JEWS, NOT WWII ROLE. 9/28/99
FLAKE: PAT USES "ISRAELI LOBBY" AS CODE FOR JEWS. 9/27/99
NYT: JEWISH ADL HEAD SAYS BUSH "PUT POLITICS OVER PRINCIPLES. 9/25/99
AP: BUSH SAYS HE NEEDS PAT AND HIS VOTES FOR WH2K. 9/25/99
AAS: JEWS LOSE IN DUBYA'S WORLD. 9/15/99


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