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Brother made right decision in Schiavo case, Bush says

WASHINGTON (BP)–Speaking to two separate sanctity-of life-issues Oct. 28, President Bush said he agrees with his brother’s decision in a Florida life-and-death legal battle and added that while he will sign the partial-birth abortion ban, he doesn’t think the country is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.

On another issue, Bush also distanced himself from comments made by a key leader in the administration’s war against terror, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, that have been at the center of a debate over the role of religion in public life.

Bush made his comments in a Rose Garden news conference that focused mostly on his policies in Iraq and the Middle East.

“Yes, I believe my brother made the right decision. Yes, I’ll sign the ban on partial-birth abortion. And no, I don’t think the culture has changed to the extent that the American people or the Congress would totally ban abortions,” Bush said without elaborating.

The reporter had asked Bush if he believed his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, made the right decision by intervening in the Terri Schiavo case and ordering her feeding tube re-inserted. Referencing the partial-birth abortion ban, the reporter also asked Bush if the nation has changed since the 2000 presidential election, when Bush said the American public was not ready to ban abortion.

Bush distanced himself from comments that Boykin, an evangelical who serves as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has made in various church settings. Bush did not say whether he disagreed with some or all of Boykin’s comments.

The president said that during his trip to Asia, Muslim leaders asked him, “Why do Americans think Muslims are terrorists?”

“That was the universal question from the Muslim leaders,” Bush said. “My answer was, ‘That’s not what Americans think.’ Americans think terrorists are evil people who have hijacked a great religion. That’s why … Gen. Boykin’s comments don’t reflect the administration’s comments.”

Bush added that Boykin “doesn’t reflect my point of view or the view of this administration.”

“Our war is not against the Muslim faith,” the president said. “… We welcome Muslims in our country. In America we love the fact that we are a society in which people can pray openly or not pray at all, for that matter. And I made that point to Muslim leaders.”

In reporting the story Oct. 15 about Boykin’s comments, MSNBC.com quoted the general as saying, “Well, is he [bin Laden] the enemy? Next slide. Or is this man [Saddam] the enemy? The enemy is none of these people I have showed you here. The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He’s called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan.”

Boykin further said, according to MSNBC.com, that terrorists are out to destroy America “because we’re a Christian nation.”

Evangelical leaders and a group of 18 U.S. Representatives have defended Boykin, saying that he has the right to express his Christian views. Columnist Cal Thomas argued that what Boykin said is true.

“This notion that religion is not at the heart of the hatred directed at America from outside and now inside the country qualifies as extreme denial,” Thomas wrote. “Throughout the Muslim world, America is condemned not mainly because of its ideas but because Islamists believe we are infidels opposed to God.”

Bush gave a sneak preview of his 2004 campaign message, saying that he will defend his record “at the appropriate time” and that he looks “forward to it.”

“I will say that the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership, and America is more secure,” he said.

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  • Michael Foust