For the second time in a week, Time blogger Andrew Sullivan is highlighting what could be a huge religion ghost story. At the end of his nationally televised speech last night, President Bush said goodnight from the library of the White House personal residence using these words:
We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.
Sullivan's post is titled "Dieu Cache," which is French for "hiding God." A reader of Sullivan's believes that Bush is leaving out the often-used "May God continue to bless the United States of America" and that the absence of the word "God" is Jeffersonian. For example, note the use of the word "Creator" in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Perhaps there is not much of a story here, but I doubt it. A president's words and actions are carefully choreographed (note how he was in the library, not at his Oval Office desk) and his handlers know that his words will be closely analyzed. As Sullivan's contributor notes, "Do we no longer need God's blessing, just a little guidance?"
Question: Would Mike Gerson have used those closing words?
For past examples, see the closings of Bush's speech on Sept. 11, 2001, and March 19, 2003, at the beginning stages of the Iraq invasion and on the fifth-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I'm hoping that some enterprising reporter picks up this story (who, me?) because there has to be something going on here that is more significant than Bush's speechwriters just looking to mix things up a little bit at the end of a major national address. Or maybe Bush himself is changing?