President Bush gave the commencement address at Calvin College here in Grand Rapids yesterday. Predictably, not everyone was impressed:
Nathan Karnes, a graduate who wore a bumper sticker, “Who Would Jesus Bomb” on his mortarboard, said he felt Bush politicized the ceremony simply by coming.
“And I was really disappointed in his speech,” he said. “He took this opportunity to politicize, saying it’s only the faithful who should take care of poverty. He’s trying it now and it doesn’t work. We have an outrageous poverty problem.”
I reread the text of the speech, thinking I must have missed something. But I didn’t find anything that sounded like what this graduate was talking about.
There were several references to “our faith-based and community organizations”, and Bush said that they have a better history of serving than government organizations. I agree with that sentiment, though your mileage will vary. Still, it’s a reach to call that “politicizing” and saying that it’s “it’s only the faithful who should take care of poverty”.
It seems to me that the political statements weren’t made by the President, but by those who are criticizing the President for bringing politics into the graduation ceremony.
I didn’t hear the speech. I only read the transcript. But I disagree with this graduate’s interpretation, and I waited until after I had read it to decide.