Saturday, April 09, 2005

Bush in the Vatican City

Wow! That title might make a good porno title, huh?

Well, they sent the Pope off in grand style. It wasn't on the order of the old Southern custom of sitting up with the dead, but was pretty special in its own way.

I was trolling around the blogosphere yesterday, and ran into this story at the DailyKos about President Bush getting booed at the Pope's funeral. I hadn't seen anything on Fox or CNN about this, so I was kinda curious. Like jmc who posted the story, I ran the Der Spiegel article through Google's translator to get the general gist of it. This is some of what I got for a translation...

Glaeubige whistle Bush out
It was a historical moment: As a first president of the USA George W. Bush participated in burying a Pope - despite its controversy with the Pontifex over the Iraq war. Gellende of whistles were to be heard, when on a large picture canvas a close-up became to transfer Bushs.

So now I'm really curious, and I'm sitting here wondering who I know that speaks German that can give me a quick translation. Well, there's a couple of my cousins who spent quite a bit of time in Germany courtesy of the good old U.S. Army, but who knows how to get in touch with them. Then I thought of Bruce Miller at Old Hickory's Weblog. He seems pretty proficient in German and a couple of other languages - he's alway's translating articles on his website. Maybe he'll help a fella out? A quick email exchange later, and I got this fine translation back (I'm assuming it's fine. I don't read German. That's why I needed the translation.)...

Believers boo at Bush
It was an historic moment: George W. Bush became the first President of the USA to attend the funeral of a Pope - despite his dispute with the Pontifex over the Iraq War. Shrill hoots could be heard when a closeup of Bush was shown on a large screen.

US President Bush brought a high-level delegation with him to Rome, which included his father George Bush, his predecessor Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice. At St. Peter's Square in rome, Bush had a seat in the second row of the special guests. The seats were assigned in alphabetical order according to the French spelling for the names of states. Next to Bush sat the French President Jacques Chirac. A separate delegation of the US Congress included around 40 members. The crowd in front of St. Peter's Square reacted to the large close-up with Bush's face with boos and hoots.

The US President combined his Rome trip with a visit to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In it, he expressed anew his regret over the death of the secret servcie officer Nicola Calipari, as a spokesman for the White House announced. Calipari was killed a month ago from a shot by an American soldier, as he accompanied the released Italian hostage Giulani Sgrena to the Baghdad airport. The incident caused massive ill-will between Italy and the USA.
Bush also met together with American cardinals in Rome, who will participate in the selection of a new Pope beginning April 18. After the requiem, the US President began the trip home to Texas.

Bruce was even kind enough to explain some of the difficulties in translation and to offer some observations. Apparently the Google translator has trouble with "divided verbs," whatever those are.

Bruce took the time to talk about the Sgrena incident and the effect on Italian politics...

This article is a good example of how the European press offers perspectives that we don't hear enough in the US, but we should. The Sgrena incident (mentioned in the article) barely made it onto the American news radar long enough for rightwingers to denounce her as a lying commie. But the *conservative* Italian government - really conservative, the foreign minister heads the "postfascist" party descended from Mussolini's Fascist Party - was plenty pissed about the thing. US soldiers carelessly gun down their top security officer in Iraq and then put out a transparently phony press release about what happened. There were regional elections in Italy this past Sunday, and Berlusconi's party got clobbered. Of the three older EU members that most prominently backed Bush's war in Iraq, Aznar in Spain got turned out of office, Berlusconi's party isn't doing so well and this Sgrena incident showed how little regard this administration has for even its allies, and Tony Blair is down in the polls for the May elections.

Then he made this observation about a paragraph I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to...

The last paragraph was actually the most intriguing to me. What the [Cheney] is Bush doing meeting with the American cardinals? Lobbying for his favorite candidate for Pope? This is after his little stunt last year complaining to the Pope that some bishops weren't being supportive enough to the Republican Party. It reminded me of this cartoon; Bush is doing so many off-the-track things that he's making it tough for cartoonists to satirize him.

Up until John Kennedy got elected, Protestant fundamentalists here were worried that a Catholic President would allow the Church to poke its nose inappropriately into American politics. Now it's looking like the Protestant fundamentalist President is inviting them to. This should also be a lesson for the American Church leaders. Kissing up to the Bush and the Republicans may have its short-run benefits for their issues. But the Republicans expect payback for their help, too. I can't imagine that the thought was lost on the cardinals when Bush met with them.

I just think a meeting like that with an American President days before they will go into conclave to pick a new Pope was really inappropriate. Bush shouldn't have done it, and the cardinals shouldn't have agreed to it.

I got curious about the whole incident because 1) I hadn't seen anything about the incident in the American news mediaand we all know how thorough they are, right? and 2) the right-wing wingnuts are going around calling the Pope a real standup guy and claiming him as one of their own, like he and Bush were always in total agreement. Never mind the bitter denunciations they made of the Pope when he opposed Bush's Iraqi Adventure. Hindrocket and the other wingnuts at Power Line even launched into a tirade against the New York Times because they accidentally posted an unfinished story that had a note that they needed a positive quote from a supporter. Others were pitching a fit about the "liberal media" because CBS broke away from their Pope coverage to televise the NCAA Basketball Tournament that they paid millions for the rights for. Jeez, you couldn't get enough Pope coverage on the other 57 channels that were running the story?

Anyway, I sincerely thank you, Bruce, for taking the time out of your day to satisfy my curiosity about the article and for offering your insights.


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