April 16th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
6 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. Janice

    My God, Wolf, why do you ALWAYS find a way to turn things around? Someone could say the sky is blue and you would report that the speaker said he prefers blue over white! We can make up our own minds and don't need you spin us your version.
    It's too bad that Hillary (the man hater) and Barack (who hates whites) don't just duel it out until they both drop. At this point even democrats are fed up with them.
    McCain may be old but he's not stupid, so let's hope he picks a smart woman like Condi for VP.

    April 16, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Peter

    I'm not an Obama supporter and I'm certainly not a Bush supporter, but please don't dream up issues that are not there. It was a touching ceremony. Let it go at that.

    April 16, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. sozzi

    Bush the murderer is kissing down to the pope, and he is asking for forgiveness, NONE THERE.

    April 16, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. carolflowery

    you my friend are breathing far too much into that, I cant even believe you would go there with this, gosh, it's getting like we cant say anything, is this a sign that this will be the way it is if Obama does win, good grief

    April 16, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. beyond politics

    The pope reminds us all, whether Christian or not, that as a nation and as individuals we must work to protect the poor and the powerless. Like Jesus, we should help those that the rest of the world forgets. While the pope and Christian demoninations should stay out of politics, all Christians should consider these tenents when voting.

    April 16, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. John, A Baptist

    While I believe that the Pope is a genuinely good person, and the spiritual leader for many American, I become concerned when such lavish attention and immense resources are devoted to the visit to a person who is not a head of state. The pope is, in fact, the head of one of many Christian denominations.

    President Lincoln discontinued diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1863 because it was determined that a government that is bound by the Constitution not to establish a state religion, nor endorse any religion, should not, in fact, have diplomatic relations with a CHURCH.

    It was a profound mistake for President Reagan to re-establish the full diplomatic status of a religious leader. It was a way of pandering to American Catholics.

    If, in fact, we recognize "Head of State" status for the Pope, why don't we also confer the same status to the Dalai Lama, Ignatius IV of the Eastern Orthodox Church, or..perhaps...Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention? They all lead major global religious bodies.

    April 16, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Carrie Pa

    I am tired of the press. They will take a few words from a speech, then analize it for days. Enough already!

    April 16, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Kevin, NC

    John McCain't make it through 4 yrs (He's too old) Listen to his grandfather Murtha

    April 16, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Robert Anthony, I have heard that type of divisive verbage for 65 years but it hasn't changed how I personally view people. I couldn't make may own family members accept my white husband nor would his family accept me. This problem is something we are all have a responsibility to change.

    April 16, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. shirley

    America is not one of the most religious countries on earth, spoken like and moron.

    April 16, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Geri

    I think its a little disgraceful to bring your "fair haired boy" into the Pope and Bush discussion. Can you ever write an article without saying his name?? I watched the whole thing and certainly didn't get that impression and I'm not a Republican either. An undecided, Catholic voter is what I am. I do know my vote won't go to Obama.

    April 16, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Susan MO



    WHY? WHY? WHY?


    April 16, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. Jake Minnaard

    Gee Wolf, if it weren't for the intrepid press reading things into statements that just aren't there, How dull CNN would be. Look for the newsest expression to replace "swiftboated"...that would be "bittered" or,maybe even "elited". Were you called in to see Jon Klein or something?

    April 16, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. John, Brooklyn NY

    Wolf, I think you are grasping a straws a bit. The press has had quite a heyday with the Obama's "bitter" remark over the past week (and, perhaps, rightly so) and Hillary has pulled it so thin that she's now elliciting catcalls. Considering the latest round of polls, it appears that the American people have gotten past it – why can't you? It simply isn't story anymore.

    April 16, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. No Bible Scholar but...

    I also think that it is funny that he used the word "religious". anyone who has read the New Testament knows that Jesus talked out against the religious. He said they are like white washed tombs that look good on the outside, but the inside is decay. Also look at the sermon on the mount. Mostly about being real, not religious. Poor use the word, or maybe it is right on track.

    April 16, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. susan

    Wolf is definitely reading into this... (eye roll)... give me a break... geez! The Pope visiting is already an exciting positive story; stop trying to pull controversy out of it.

    April 16, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Dan , TX

    No, Bush wasn't taking a veiled swipe at Obama, Wolf, but YOU are.

    Impressive journalistic ethics.

    April 16, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Paris

    Wolf stop the double standard.
    Stop the bias reporting.

    April 16, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. SUE, Michigan

    Nice sentiment Bayou, but the US cannot grant freedom to the whole world. In the first place, we are barely maintaining our own freedoms, thanks to the dictator-in-chief. In the second, some countries could care less about freedom as we see it-they would be pleased to have peace, shelter and food and medicines. In the third place, we are already in debt to China (last I heard was $1300 for very man, woman and child in the US) so how are we going to bring freedom to the world? And 4th, our path to freedom seems to be through the barrel of a gun, and I don't believe that will bring anything but hatred and war (do you really foresee anything resembling peace in Iraq, Afghanistan or Israel anytime soon?) I am not really sure why God continues to bless this country, unless He still believes we will eventually see the light and get back on track. I pray so.

    April 16, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. michelle

    Bush, Benedict, Obama..... they all have their issues. Women priests.... ordain Roman Catholic women or stop baptizing them!
    Hillary 08

    April 16, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. Patrick

    Does anyone really think the Pope would like to see Obama or Clinton win when they're so pro-choice. Obama called the idea of his daughters being pregnant a "terrible burden."

    April 16, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Retired Navy Veteran

    Pope mets the Burning Bush.

    April 16, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Kevin in DC

    Um, no, Wolf…

    Are you a reporter, a journalist? Do you do ANY research, or do you just do these broad sweeping speculations that are absolutely foundationless?

    Obama DID NOT SAY that the country is without religion, NOR did he say it is BECAUSE of hard times that people turn to religion.

    What Obama said was, that because people don't trust politicians to work for them anymore (or media personalities like yourself, for that matter) on important issues like the economy, they instead vote on issues like religious persuasion and gun ownership rights…issues that do NOTHING to promise them new jobs or put food on the table, put kids through school, ensure medical coverage, etc.

    Get a clue, Wolf. You're not helping to raise the intellectual bar of the U.S…you're hitting your head on it.

    April 16, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. Grif

    Moved by, "Inner Illusion's". You are what you Eat.! Would his welcome be the same, in Iran.... I doubt it....
    He is a Freeloader to me. He lives of other's meager earnings. Charities...

    April 16, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Tyrone Brown, Seattle, WA

    It's a sad truth that most Americans cannot distinguish between the "sincerity" versus the "politics" of our current President's words.
    That said, this highlights why I am an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Obama. His words speak to the 'head and the heart" of millions of Americans and people around the world. So much so, that I look forward to having a leader who not only speaks sincerely, but has the wisdom and ability to admit when he is speaking politics too.

    Obama '08

    Tyrone Brown
    37th Legislative District State Delegate / Obamacrat
    Seattle, WA

    April 16, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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