Language, Politics

Today Kevin Drum tells us that Dred Scott’ is code for Roe v. Wade’, explaining Bush’s strange remarks about being against slavery during the debate.

This is not the first time I’ve seen it asserted that Bush inserts religious code words and bible phrases into his public speech, words that sound innocuous to the rest of the population, but which have significant meaning for the religious right.

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.

Here is a recent front page Washington Post article which goes further, arguing that such coded language also helps Bush remain vague about the exact nature of his beliefs:

But despite the centrality of Bush’s faith to his presidency, he has revealed only the barest outline of his beliefs, leaving others to sift through the clues and make assumptions about where he stands.

Bush has said many times that he is a Christian, believes in the power of prayer and considers himself a lowly sinner.” But White House aides said they do not know whether the president believes that: the Bible is without error; the theory of evolution is true; homosexuality is a sinful choice; only Christians will go to heaven; support for Israel is a biblical imperative; or the war in Iraq is part of God’s plan.

Some political analysts think there is a shrewd calculation behind these ambiguities. By using such phrases as the culture of life,” Bush signals to evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics that he is with them, while he avoids taking explicit stands that might alienate other voters or alarm foreign leaders. Bush and his chief speechwriter, Michael J. Gerson, are very gifted at crafting references that religious insiders will understand and outsiders may not,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of the evangelical journal Sojourners.

Such coded language allows a president who doesn’t attend church to appear as ”God’s essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth.”

UPDATE: More from Salon’s War Room.

UPDATE: More from the LA Times.