September 29, 2004


Words matter: How Bush speaks in religious code (Bruce Lincoln , September 12, 2004, Boston Globe)

George W. Bush believes God has called him to be president. You won't hear him say so openly, of course, but he regularly conveys this to a core constituency -- the religious right. [...]

Twelve times Bush used the phrase "I believe," many more than any other. Sometimes it meant only "I hold this opinion," and sometimes it marked a profession of faith. But repetition hammered home the crucial point: Bush is a man who believes.

Two of these beliefs were meant to justify his wars as holy. The first -- "I believe that America is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century" -- prompts a question: Called by whom? The second helps answer that query: "I believe freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman." And, a bit later: "Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom."

In the course of his speech, the president thus suggested he is a pious man, called to lead a righteous nation. Like the nation itself, he is committed to a sacred cause and is guided in all things by his Christian faith. His sole concern in Iraq -- so he insists -- is to spread freedom, and in doing this he serves the Almighty. If you heard that and can accept it, it must be terribly reassuring.

Rather less comforting is the realization that Bush is selling his dubious war to the base he has skillfully courted for years, which he knows to be credulous, fiercely patriotic, and enormously loyal.

What do you expect? Senator Kerry already has the cynical, unpatriotic, disloyal vote wrapped up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 29, 2004 10:56 PM

[...] he knows to be credulous, fiercely patriotic, and enormously loyal.

Because heavens knows it's hard to respect people who are patriotic and loyal.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 29, 2004 10:57 PM

It's strange that so many people are shocked and scared that an American president might publicly invoke religion. Hasn't every president done this?

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 29, 2004 11:33 PM

These people are so uterly ignorant of the history of their own country.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 30, 2004 2:03 AM


Yes indeed, especially the ones that we suspect aren't very pious in private.

I'd like to see Bruce Lincoln prove that Bush hasn't been called by God to be President.

Maybe the reason that Monsieur Lincoln is so incredulous is because he's not in the habit of talking to God.
Latter-day Saints are communicated to by God all of the time, and most of what She wants us to do isn't very Earth-shaking.

Bush wouldn't have been called to be President, anyhow, he would have been called to run for President.
God can't make people vote for Bush.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 30, 2004 2:13 AM

Jonathan Ginsburg of St. Paul's Temple of Aaron along with several other rabbi's met with GWB during the High Holy Days, privately (no press). When asked about the meeting Ginsberg said,

He [GWB] told a very moving story about being in Israel with his wife when he was Governor of Texas. Netanyahu was the Prime Minister, and Sharon was the tour guide of a helicopter flight over the West Bank. When Bush woke up in the morning, he looked out of his hotel window, and it was Jerusalem in its golden hue. He talked about how humbling it is to know that millions of people pray for him every day, and the sacred responsibility that entails. We mentioned that in our synagogues every Shabbat, we offer a prayer for him and for the government of the United States. He said he prays every day that God blesses him with patience, wisdom and strength, and "I'm weak enough to know that I need God's strength and support."

(from the Powerline blog)

Posted by: Gideon at September 30, 2004 7:26 AM

We just can't have all those religious people in politics, like Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Rev. William Wilberforce, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Rev. John Witherspoon, Rev. Roger Williams, Rev. James Oglethorpe. Anyone who knows anything about American history, politics and culture knows how irrelevant the contributions of people of strong faith are to our national essence.

Bruce is obviously no relation to Abraham.

Posted by: Bart at September 30, 2004 7:27 AM

No objections were made when Hill & Billary attended a Sunday church service with the President carrying that overweight Bible in his hand. Of course, two hours later he was being serviced by Monica. Must have been a real moving sermon from the pulpit that morning.

Incidentally, President Garfield was an ordained minister who I assume regularly prayed to G-d and was inspired by Him, but why expect this writer to know that annoying fact.

Posted by: Oswald Booth Czolgosz at September 30, 2004 7:35 AM

God can't make people vote for Bush.

Depending on your theology, perhaps not. But if the Florida debacle taught us anything, it's that God still has a not insignificant influence in the electoral process.

Posted by: Timothy at September 30, 2004 1:46 PM