EWTN has posted an interview with the president that Raymond Arroyo conducted in advance of Pope Benedict's visit. President Bush is, as Arroyo notes, amazingly on-message in all of his replies, bringing most things back to Iraq and the war on terror (where I believe he has made some moral misjudgments), but he also makes several comments that remind me why I still admire his character in many ways. I certainly appreciate his admiration for the pope, and found this comment impressive:
And I don't know what's going to happen in American politics, I really don't. I do know that in order for a President to be effective he better bring a set of principles from which he will not deviate, and articulate them as clearly as he can -- or she can -- and then not worry about immediate popularity, because popularity comes and goes, but what doesn't change are solid principles. And I'm going to remind His Holy Father how important his voice is in making it easier for politicians like me to be able to kind of stand and defend our positions that are, I think, very important positions to take.
(That view of leadership has always been something I like about President Bush.) The statement that he values the pope taking strong stands on moral issues is also interesting. Does the president really feel that because popes speak strongly on matters of life, he has more confidence in taking his own positions? I'm not entirely sure with regard to Bush in particular, but I hope it's the case for other pro-life (for instance) politicians. (Not to mention bishops.) In any event, I look forward to reading more of what the Holy Father has to say this week. And happy 81st birthday to him, too!