"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is."
"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president... without a relationship with the Lord," he said.
Bush is a master at slaying straw men. Here, he "defends" himself from attacks which never occurred precisely so that he can publicly conflate religiosity and patriotism. He basically asserts, "I think atheists and seculars are lesser patriots and unfit for the presidency, but I'm careful not to express such beliefs, as some of them might fear."
The topic of patriotism always comes to the forefront during wartime. Too often conservative squirrels will add religion to the mix-- as a blessing upon the country's killing and destruction of other people. They see no disconnect there. And for Bush to claim "That's just the way it is..."-- what an insult to all the nonbelievers serving in Iraq! Especially to those who might one day run for political office.
Bush's favorite political (!) philosopher is Jesus of Nazareth, because Jesus "changed his heart". Well, the Nazarene speaks thusly to all who might hear him: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." (Dr. Luke 6:27-29) How 'bout them pacifist apples, Mr. President?
If someone knows of a verse that trumps the above (that is, a New Testament passage that endorses war) please let me know. Otherwise, I'll humbly submit that the concepts of Christianity and wartime patriotism are profoundly opposed to one another.
And as far as one's personal Jesusism enabling one to be an effective President, here's a tasty little packet of butterscotch:
"The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites." (--Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782. )
If the deist Jefferson had made mistakes on the same scale as the twice-born Bush, there would be no United States of America for latter-day patriots to love.
Update: Bush's "the way it is" comment can also be read as a reference to the bogus fear of his critics, rather than his inner view of religiosity and patriotism (as I took it). That interpretation immediately collides with Bush's stated view of a President needing a relationship with God. So, if that's indeed what he meant, Dubya should be removed from the "hypocrites" and placed in the "fool" pool.