George W. Bush as the Anti-Christ
To really grasp the significance of the symbol of the anti-Christ we must first posit politics as itself symbolic. Politics is the semiotics of a nation's will: it becomes the People just as the People become it by being elected into office and participating in the political process, or in dictatorships, by following the rules and not forming underground movements. But in a democracy, it is an especially tight symbolic relationship, thus the clear relationship between political symbol and anti-Christ in George W. Bush.
Both subject and subjectifier, politics in this nation exploits as it empowers by allowing a popular will (or a popular sense of defeatism) to manifest itself as a political candidate, who in turn is forced by his media (and his electability) to pander back to the People.
Thus a candidate becomes a symbol--being both subject and object in the mind of the electorate. This goes beyond being a mere figurehead: figureheads are allowed peccadilloes since they are not considered to be "real" decision makers. Figureheads express a polity's emotions about an office, and only those. American political figures--especially presidents--express emotions and will, and they express them in terms of a man (Americans seem to feel strongly that the office should be held by a man). The presidency is symbol in that it expresses us: we impeached Clinton because we found his conduct with Monica Lewinsky to be reprehensible. There was not the political will to convict him, however, because we knew that essentially he stood for us, and who among us has not had love affairs of which we are embarrassed?
In essence, we brought Clinton before a crowd, but the crowd could cast no stones.
The symbolism is thus established--the intimate connection between our presidents and ourselves. And here George W. Bush comes into play. According to Kevin Phillips, Bush is the quintessential spoiled, dumb rich kid (56). As Phillips points out, this has not always been a plus in American politics, but there is every indication that it may be in the near term: we are doing very well as a nation, thank you very much. Snooty and expensive clothes are back in style as Abercrombie and Fitch, the Gap, and Eddie Bauer have proven. We wish to see ourselves as gentrified, as having "made it," as being able to eschew study and hard work and rest on the laurels of our success.
The George W. Bush candidacy shows us that we are corrupt.
Similarly, the themes of corruption and the methods of symbol are very much a part of the book of Revelation. In it, we see symbolism at work in the creation of image:
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my
right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The
seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and
the seven which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Symbol itself is part and parcel with the process of revelation, and any understanding of anti-Christ...