April 16th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Blitzer: Bush, the pope - and politics?

Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush greet thousands of guests on the South Lawn Wednesday.
Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush greet thousands of guests on the South Lawn Wednesday.

(CNN) – It was a beautiful arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. As a former White House correspondent, I covered many such ceremonies over the years. But no matter how many times you see and hear these events, it’s always exciting and spectacular. This one for Pope Benedict XVI, I must say, was even more extraordinary because so many thousands of guests were on hand, and they were genuinely moved.

President Bush delivered a carefully-written address touching several sensitive issues. But I was especially struck by these words: “The United States is the most innovative, creative and dynamic country on earth. It is also among the most religious.”

I may be reading way too much into those words, but I was struck by the contrast to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s controversial words about those people in small towns in Pennsylvania who’ve lost their jobs. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter,” Obama said, “They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Was President Bush deliberating taking a veiled swipe at Obama? As I said, I don’t know, but it was curious – at least to me.

What I do know is that the Pope’s words very uplifting, especially when he blessed the United States with his “fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and this people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace.”


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. ***AMERICAN***

    Wolf - reading way to much into it. Really big stretch to tie it to Obama. Thanks for playing.

    April 16, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Susan MO

    Obama knew what he was saying to the people of Pennsylvania. He insulted them, and to top it off, he 'made light of it', basically laughing in their faces.

    America does not need a president who insults the people.

    For Hillary Clinton :)

    April 16, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Noah

    Obama has mis-lead americans. His comments were wrong and the media and his supporters have grabbed onto the least offensive thing he said to defend..Those comments were never about Americans feeling bitter or turning to God. He made comments that were racist in their intent. He changed his story and people have fallen for it..Well, what if he said behind closed doors was what he really felt..Guess we will know if he is elected..
    Now we have news that Obama has been lying about his connection to lobbyist. Check out USAToday.com and you can see all the details.

    Now one can tell me why I should vote for Obama other than he gives a great speech. I see no evidence that he can deliver anything he has promised...There is nothing to prove that he can bring people together and the only evidence that exist is that his campaign has served to seperate people, not bring them together..Hinse why 12 million have voted for him and 12 million for Clinton. If he can't bring his own party together, how can he bring two parties together...He can't.

    April 16, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Peter from Philadelphia

    Bush has a 19% approval rating; meaning that most Americans do not care about what he says. He's just killing time until his time is up. He cannot wait to go back to the ranch.

    April 16, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  5. SUE, Michigan

    It's nice that the pope included "peace" in his remarks. A Christian nation should be one striving for peace, not bombing other countries. And a self-proclaimed Christian President should NEVER permit the torture of another human being, nor the killing of men. You never hear "peace" from Bush, do you?

    April 16, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Matt

    For crying out loud....IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT BARACK OBAMA!!! I am so sick of this guy. If Hillary doesn't take him out by June, I pray McCain does in November. Otherwise, I WILL get bitter.

    April 16, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Independent

    Bush has much to confess----– Hey !!! The Pope is handy, what better time than now.

    April 16, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. jimmy vekmen

    PRESIDENT BUSH CERTAINLY STATED THE TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA AND OUR CITIZENS WHO ARE INHERENTLY RELIGIOUS
    PATRIOTIC AND HARDWORKING . THEY DO NOT BECOME BITTER
    IN HARD TIMES AS OBAMA AND HIS PASTOR WOULD CONDESCENDINLY PUT US DOWN.

    April 16, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. EJ

    It is interesting but I think you may be reading a little too much into it. President Bush and the Pope differ on some major issues (most notibly, Iraq), and it seems more likely to be rhetoric aimed at highlighting a common ground.

    April 16, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. Bayou Joe

    More like an upper cut than a veiled swipe. Power to the President and the Pope who said my favorite words. "God Bless America"

    This former Catholic understands the power of the Catholic Church in America. The basic tenents of respect and value of human life is at the core of the Church.

    This will have a tremendous affect on the race for the Presidency. Even the Pope and God bless him, made it very clear that The United States will come to any country that wants Freedom for it's people and will make every sacrifice to maintain Freedom in the World.

    Whether it is national disaster caused by humans or by nature we area always sending our soldiers, medical people and ordinary citizens with food and shelter to make life better for everyone regardless of race or religion.

    That is why we love our country and will support it's leaders as long as they maintain the vision of America that our forefathers laid out for us.

    April 16, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. jimmy vekmen

    THANK THE POPE, AMERICA . FOR BLESSING OUR GREAT COUNTRY. WE NEED HIS AND ALL OF OUR CITIZENS PRAYERS
    FOR OUR COUNTRY. GOD BLESS AMERICA

    April 16, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Uncle Sam

    If stating that Americans are a religious people is somehow a swipe at Sen. Obama, he has more problems that I thought.

    April 16, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Tanya, MS

    This won't resurrect Bush's legacy–nothing will.

    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. ponder this

    WOLF COME ON....NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE AGAINST OBAMA....I AM SURE BUSH BEING REPUBLICAIN WOULD RATHER SEE OBAMA WIN..... SO THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA AND BITTER....COME ON.

    April 16, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Sandra, OH

    While the pontiff is in town, he should pay for Bush and all the lies he told to dupe Congress and America into these stupid wars.

    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Sandra, OH

    While the pontiff is in town, he should pray for Bush and all the lies he told to dupe Congress and America into these stupid wars.

    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. Sharon Minnesota

    Way too much reading into this. Even if it's true, Obama deserves a jab from anyone who's willing to give it.

    April 16, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Thomas from TX

    No Country for Old Men.

    April 16, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. Kate

    I am a reformed Catholic. I was forced to follow the Catholic rituals as a kid and have my baptism, first communion, confirmation, etc. But then I moved into the real world and saw so much hypocracy in the Catholic church that I just could not stand by it anymore. This Pope knowingly helped Pedophiles move from one church to the next and he knowingly tried to keep the whole tragedy silent. I just do not understand why so many Catholics are turning a blind eye to his actions. What he did is unforgivable. He aided in the rape and molestation of hundreds of children. If you want to forgive him, fine but make him POPE? the "spiritual leader" of the Catholic faith? Did they also forget his ties to the German Natzis? Not to mention his refusal to speak in Boston where the most PROVEN and DOCUMENTED child molestation/rape instances took place. I am just at a loss for words why the Catholics are following this man.

    April 16, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Steve

    Considering Bush's apparently solid "base" of evangelicals, and his own repeated affirmations of his religious beliefs, I don't doubt that this was a veiled swipe at Obama's statements. Oddly enough, if you take the full context of what Obama said, and not just the few seeming inflammatory sentences when taken out of context, he and Bush are giving very similar messages; religion plays a very important part in many people's lives.

    Considering Bush's obvious lack of sophistication when it comes to his mother toungue, I seriously doubt he knew he was making a veiled swipe at Obama. His speech writers certainly knew what they were doing, but Bush undoubtedly plodded through the speech in his usual halting and stumbling fashion, his only goal to congratulate himself at the end for a speech well-read.

    April 16, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. pittguy

    Susan – maybe let the people of PA decide how insulted we are. I for one am not in the least no matter how much you think I should be.

    April 16, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. Sharon, Seattle

    Yes, you're reading way too much into those words. Give it a rest will ya? We're being nuanced to death here.

    April 16, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Religion is a major factor in the mid-east mess. It's a major factor in the Iraq civil war. Historically, it was responsible for hundreds of years of intermittent war between Islam and Christianity, warfare that persists to this day, a thousand years later. Religion was responsible for thousands of people being burned alive in the fragmentation of Christianity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and hundreds of thousands more killed the Thirty Years War of the early seventeenth century. Religion was the excuse used by Europeans to commit genocide in the New World in the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. To this day, most of a millennium after the fact, the Spanish Inquisition is famous for torturing people.

    And Bush is pleased that the U.S. is "among the most religious" of countries?

    Religion is the greatest single source of misery in the history of the human race. It is murderous bigotry and intolerance enshrined, justified, and made acceptable by the endorsement of vengeful gods that are the product of Mans' own vicious imaginations.

    April 16, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. ***AMERICAN***

    Sue, have you read the Bible. Especially the Old Testament? I know it isn't christians but there is a lot of war, killings, adultery and toture. Sound very familar to today's world. That is the Christian legacy.

    And yes I am one too.

    April 16, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. USAF Sr. Airman

    Wow. Your arms must be hurting from stretching so far trying to connect that to Obama.

    April 16, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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