Did President Bush believe that Harry Potter was real? It sure sounds that way.

Not that this should come as any surprise, but we now have confirmation that the Bush administration refused to award Harry Potter author JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because the books “encouraged witchcraft.”

For a second, let’s set aside any arguments over whether or not Rowling’s work merits such a lofty honor and do something that we simply don’t do enough these days. Let’s dig beneath the surface silliness and examine the deeper implications of what this revelation really means.

Put simply, would you be worried about “encouraging” something you didn’t think was possible? It’s one thing to want to discourage, say, meth use or binge drinking or texting while driving or unprotected sex. Those things are real and they have real, observable consequences. If Rowling’s books were encouraging angel-dust-fueled arson sprees, we’d all be advised to support the former president and his merry band of loco parentis.

But did they see witchcraft as real? (Sure, practitioners of Wicca and other neo-paganisms indulge in the craft, but for a variety of reasons I think we have to assume that’s not what Bush was concerned with. After all, Rowling doesn’t talk about real-world Wicca, and real-world Wiccans don’t fly through the skies of London terrorizing the Mugglery. Whatever the real world’s witches may or may no be up to, it has so far proven very unHollywood-worthy.)

So, do we then conclude that President Bush and his cronies wanted to discourage children from learning how to change each other into rats? From flying around on brooms? From trying to outwit dragons? From teleporting via fireplaces? From sneaking around under invisibility capes?

Certainly these are the sorts of things that we’d want to keep our children away from, I suppose. But while Dubya may have resisted the corrosive effects of education, there are rules of logic and he is not magically immune to them. By definition, one wouldn’t actively discourage children from something that was in fact impossible. Not unless one were absolutely barking, anyway. It might theoretically be dangerous for young children to attack the Xyrxalian Star Fleet on Pegasus-back, for instance, but you don’t recall any Executive admonitions on the subject, do you?

Still, let’s remember, the Bible says that witches are real. Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin consulted freely with a witchbusting “minister.” The shenanigans at Hogwarts are barely more outlandish than some of what went on in the White House when Nancy Reagan, wife of Bush’s intellectual hero Ronald Reagan, was in residence.

And we’re talking about a man who believes that God commanded him to run for president.

Therefore, I believe we have every reason to believe that our former president did, in fact, view the kinds of powers imagined by Rowling in her best-selling series to be plausible.

Since this is America, we have to respect his faith.


  • Terry Hargrove

    I am not afraid of witches. I am afreiad of people who are afraid of witches. They are the ones who bring the wood, and they know how to stack it.

  • Terry Hargrove

    And spelling. I’m afreiad of bad spelllin.

  • Before we take this at face value, let’s acknowledge that former White House officials have painted Latimer as a less then reliable source. Here’s one example.


    I do question much of Latimer’s account. I mean, the guy makes Rumsfeld out as one of the good guys, according to reports, so the claims of incompetence could be spot on.

    For the sake of argument, though, let’s give Latimer the benefit of the doubt. Let’s believe Dubya objected to awarding Rowling the Medal of Freedom. Perhaps Dubya wanted to keep kids from jumping off their roofs, brooms between their legs, in a doomed attempt to fly.

    I can certainly believe Bush would try such a stunt off the White House. I can imagine his eyebrows furrowed with determination and a red scarf around his neck as he takes a deep breath. I can picture his eyes growing wide and realization sinking him moments before he crashed into the White House’s rose bushes.

    If that’s the case, Bush has done a great service to this country. Injuries from attempting witchcraft, commonly known as IAWs, pose a real threat to the impressionable, not just children.

    • Yeah, maybe Bush learned the hard way about straddling some wood, fondling his wand and trying to fly during his boozing and coking days.

  • You forgot to mention the dangers of driving while having unprotected sex. I haven’t seen any statistics on that, but it can’t be safe. Nothing that’s fun ever is.

  • I was going to say something snarky about Rowling not necessarily deserving something that sounds as prestigious as The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Then i read the list of recipients: looks to me like you might be able to find one in a box of CrackerJacks.

    As to what the big W might or might not believe…it’s hard to say. With enough blow and booze just about anything becomes believable. Let’s just be thankful that they didn’t decide to weigh Rowling and a duck in order to decide if she is, in fact, a witch.

  • The only mention of witches in the Bible is the verse “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” In Exodus and a redundant verse in Deuteronimy (which is mostly redundant). These verses are a corrupt translation of a word better rendered as “poisoner”. These were women (generally) who had sufficient knowledge of plant lore to concoct poisonous droughts which were then purchased for use in assasinations; frequently of political targets and the wealthy and powerful; a rather nasty profession that should be discouraged in any civil society. However the unfortunate rendering in the King James Version (and in some earlier translations) allowed the verse to be used against any woman who was a threat or a percieved threat to patriarchal society by virtue of being different or independant of male authority or who made personal enemies serious enough to trigger spiteful denunciation (similar to what occurred with the majority of Gitmo detainees).
    Peace Be,

  • George W. Bush is a guy who never let the benefits of a prestigious education get in the way of his acting benightedly. That makes this more than a little bit plausible.

    As for opposing honoring Harry Potter’s author on the grounds she’s dangerous to children, shouldn’t he have opposed pretzel manufacturing on the grounds they’re dangerous to POTUSes? About as logical it seems to me.

    Now if he’d have opposed allowing banking interests to loot the goddamned country….No, can’t think about that – as Lear noted, that way lies madness….

  • I don’t understand why everyone in liberal-land is still so fixated on Bush.


  • Kids, don’t imitate Harry Potter okay? Don’t do witchcraft! It’s bad. You won’t have a good future by being a witch…

  • George W. Bush probably thought The Wizard of Oz was a documentary, too.

  • Mitch Goldstein

    I think when GWB was reading “My Pet Goat” he was really worshipping Baphomet, the goat-headed deity of the Illuminati.

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