The jig is up. University of Chicago's Bruce Lincoln, a professor of the history of religion, has cracked the code by which George Bush has been secretly speaking to evangelicals, and reveals all in a Boston Globe op-ed column. Few people know that this is why Bush's sentences are frequently fracturedthis code is awfully nuanced, and frequently gets in the way of his speaking to others. But Lincoln has uncovered the truth, breaking down the president's acceptance speech:
As president, Bush has always been outspoken about his faith, letting evangelicals know he shares their values and vision for America. But he has also been careful. Aware that he must appeal to the center to secure reelection, he employs double-coded signals that veil much of his religious message from outsiders. Biblical references, allusions to hymns, and specialized vocabulary are keys to this communication.
Biblical references were firmly planted at the beginning and end of the speech. Early on, Bush spoke of "hills to climb" and seeing "the valley below," an allusion to Israel's escape from slavery and Moses' vision of the Promised Land, as described in Deuteronomy 34. Given the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous use of the same passage ("I've been to the mountaintop"), Bush thus associated himself with both King and Moses, characterizing his presidency not just as a struggle for freedom, but a religious mission with risks of martyrdom.
In his closing paragraph, Bush quoted Ecclesiastes 3, "To everything there is a season." . Twelve times Bush used the phrase "I believe." Repetition hammered home the crucial point: Bush is a man who believes.
Sadly, we'll no longer be able to secretly nod and wink to each other as Bush talks ...1