The first book to explore the religious ideals that drive the policies and politics of Bush as president and that have privately shaped Bush as a man.
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May 05, 2004
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Excerpt from The Faith of George W. Bush by Stephen Mansfield
It was not the Longhorns, the Aggies, or the Dallas Cowboys they were thinking about that day in Texas. Though football is nearly the state religion, Texans had something else on their minds. And they were not worrying about the price of crude. Oil seemed to be selling just fine. No, on that day in January of 1995, most Texans were thinking one thing: Today George W. Bush will be inaugurated as governor of our state.
He had done it. Very few thought he would. They had laughed when he announced his candidacy. Columnist Molly Ivins called him "Shrub," and even his friends chuckled when someone called him just another "rich son of a Bush." But he surprised them all, even his parents, and defeated the extremely popular incumbent, Ann Richards. He would become only the second Republican governor of Texas in the nearly 120 years since Reconstruction.
For "Dubya," the day was a blitz of events, one stacked upon the other. He was distracted as he dressed that morning; the speech Karl Rove had been writing for him played itself in a loop through his mind. There had been last-minute changes in wording, and since delivering speeches still was not his strong suit, he wanted to get it right. The speech would only last ten minutes, but it meant so much.
He was aware but not fully engaged when his father came to him and pressed a pair of cuff links into his hands. He knew what they were and probably showed some gratitude. But it may have been forced. He was still in a bit of a haze and had not really grasped the full meaning of the moment. Then, as they left the capitol to attend a prayer breakfast at a nearby church, his mother put a note in his hand. Again, there were thanks and a hug but no sense of the weightiness he would come to attach to it all later.
Then, there was the limo ride to the church and the waiting crowd. He waved as he walked toward the door, shook hands with well-wishers as he entered, and sat in silence once he found his seat. There was the usual business of such an event: the greetings, the songs, and the readings from the Bible. His mind wandered. Perhaps it all was moving too fast for him. Perhaps he wanted to remember the whole day, and it was already becoming a blur. He rehearsed the morning in his mind; perhaps that was when he recalled the note he had quickly shoved into his pocket. The preacher warmed to his text as George W. pulled the envelope from his pocket and began to read. And the tears came.
Another day, another year, another Texas city: It is 1943. The place is a hot, dusty air base near Corpus Christi. The Second World War is in full fury, and the United States is training recruits and shipping them abroad as fast as they can be readied. It is the ninth of June, and a graduation has just taken place at this busy airfield. Three figures are standing together in the brutal Texas sun. One is nearly six and a half feet tall and every bit of 250 pounds. There is a woman, much shorter than the other two and clearly the larger man's wife, with a noble grace already etching itself in her face. Then there is the beaming one, the tall, underweight seaman second class who has just received his navy pilot's wings. He is barely twenty years old.
The larger man, obviously the father of the new pilot, reaches into his pocket to take hold of something small, which he then presents without ceremony to his son. It is a set of gold cuff links. The son knows their meaning, for he has come to understand the ways of his father, who is not an overly expressive man. "My father is proud of me," he senses, "and these are the symbols of his joy at this wonderful and fearful moment of my life."