God bless you, Mr. President, for asking God to bless all
God bless President Bush for not saying "God bless America." He ended his State of the Union address with a simple "God bless." He said the same thing the next day at a speech in Delaware. Earlier in January, he gave the same ending to troops at ...
God bless President Bush for not saying "God bless America."
He ended his State of the Union address with a simple "God bless." He said the same thing the next day at a speech in Delaware.
Earlier in January, he gave the same ending to troops at Fort Benning. When he told the nation why he was sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq, he did not even say "God bless." He said, "We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night."
Why, as of this writing, Bush has gone 26 days without ending a speech or appearance with "God bless America." The closest he came to divine politics and nationalism in that time period was in his Roe v. Wade anniversary telephone greetings from Camp David to abortion opponents on the Washington Mall. Bush said, "I ask for God's blessings on your work, and that God continue to bless our country."
The last time he actually issued the stock phrase, at least according to online White House transcripts, was in his New Year's greeting where he and Laura Bush closed with: "May God bless you, may God bless our troops and their families, and may God bless America."
It is enough to borrow from Michael Moore and ask, "Dubya, Where's my country?"
An attempt Thursday to ask that question to the White House press office was not met with an official answer. But we need not wait to compliment the president on his blessed omission.
Bush has periodically said just "God bless" throughout his presidency. But this recent pattern is a long way away from 2003, when Bush said at the end of his"Saddam-has-48-hours-to-get-out-of-town" speech, "May God continue to bless America." It is a long way from his announcement of his immoral invasion of Iraq under false pretenses of imminent danger that ended, "May God bless our country and all who defend her."
It is light years from the concentrated dose of Amerocentric utterances in the first weeks of the invasion, when Bush closed appearances at MacDill Air Force Base, the White House, the Pentagon and the Port of Philadelphia with variations of God bless America or our troops. The most God-awful moment was his speech at Chicago's O'Hare Airport shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.
Nauseatingly symbolic of the relatively painless war his administration promised for nonfighting Americans, Bush told us that we could show our patriotism by getting on an airplane to "fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed." He dispensed with the polite "may" and bluntly declared, "God bless America." To this day Bush has not asked for any significant sacrifice from U.S. civilians even as more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians died last year in the aftershock of our botched invasion.
For the Bush presidency, divinity has been too close to political design. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft quoted the Bible in depicting the war on terrorism as a "defense of our freedom in the most profound sense. It is the defense of our right to make moral choices, to seek fellowship with God." Bush talked out of both sides of his mouth to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, claiming that he would not justify a war based on God but that he prayed to be "as good a messenger of his will as possible."
Perhaps the messenger, in the privacy of his soul, questions whether Thy will was done. Six years of asking God to bless America while cursing global cooperation has created more hell than heaven. Just maybe, Bush, seeing his party humbled in the November elections, has decided to take on a more humble approach in general.
War aside, asking for blessing for merely one's own country becomes more anachronistic with each computer service call we make to India; with each Japanese car factory in mid-America; with every sneaker made in China, Vietnam and Indonesia; and of course, with every barrel of oil we import from undemocratic or barely democratic nations in the Middle East and Africa. Whether he meant it or not, Bush is headed in the right direction on publicly asking for God's blessing. America under his watch had been giving a bad name to God.
Derrick Jackson is a columnist for the Boston Globe.