[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/16/art.bush.pope.jpg caption="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.”