Today's Bushism of the Day:
"That's called, 'A Charge To Keep,' based upon a religious hymn. The hymn talks about serving God. The president's job is never to promote a religion." -- Showing German newspaper reporter Kai Diekmann the Oval Office, Washington, D.C., May 5, 2006
Here's the full context:
These are all Texas paintings.... [Discussion of Texas paintings, and also of the paintings of Washington and Lincoln, omitted. -EV]
That's called "A Charge to Keep," based upon a religious hymn. The hymn talks about serving God. The President's job is never to promote a religion. The great thing about America--and Germany, for that matter--is that you should be able to worship freely. I like to tell people, you're equally American whether you're a Jew, Muslim, Christian, or atheist--you're equally all Americans--and that if we ever lose that, we begin to look like the Taliban.
I understand, in parts of Europe, some scoff at my faith. It doesn't bother me. But I happen to believe, for me at least, faith is one way to make sure that my values stay intact and that I keep life in proper perspective, which is a very important part, in my judgment, of being a good decisionmaker.
Sounds to me like the President was showing a foreign journalist around the Oval Office. While showing the journalist the paintings and explaining what they meant to him, Bush came to this painting (thanks to BAGnewsNotes for the pointer) and noted that its title was based on a religious hymn that Bush apparently finds inspirational. He then realized that this reference to religion might draw criticism from some (especially by foreigners who aren't fully aware of how American political life works); and he thought it would be good to point out that the President generally ought not promote a religion, but is entitled to be influenced by his religion. It's hard for me to see anything particular inarticulate, unwise, choppy, inexplicable, or even funny about this.
But in any case, doesn't the quote seen in context -- with an explanation for why he was talking about the painting, and with more details of what he was trying to say about religion -- seem different than the quote provided out of context?
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