Bush's second term begins in prayer

Service is last inaugural event, then it's on to business

The Associated Press

11:19 a.m. ET Jan. 21, 2005

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Friday started the first full day of his second term by attending a prayer service at Washington’s National Cathedral, following a tradition set by George Washington.

Instrumental and choral music filled the church and an interfaith lineup of Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy helped celebrate through prayer the events of the day before — Bush’s swearing-in at the Capitol.

Offering one prayer, the Rev. Billy Graham said he believed God had a hand in Bush’s re-election.

“The next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from you,” said the 86-year-old evangelist, whom Bush credits with inspiring him to reaffirm his faith and give up drinking at age 40. “You know the challenges and opportunities they will face. Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and your presence always.”

The hourlong ceremony was the last official event of his inauguration, which was steeped in religious overtones.

Bush’s second visit to church in two days brought together 3,200 invited family, dignitaries, administration officials and other guests in the majestic Gothic-style sanctuary of the cathedral.

On Thursday the president was on the go all day, from an early morning church appearance to hours in the cold watching the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to a late night dash through 10 black-tie inaugural balls. The only thing on the president’s public schedule for the first day of his second term was the prayer service.

List of priorities
But there will be little time for him to rest, with all the tasks he has named as priorities for himself and the nation:

For the immediate future, Bush’s list of most-pressing duties include naming someone to the powerful new post of director of national intelligence, watching the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq and mending still-frayed relations with Europe during his first overseas trip of his second term.

“I’m looking forward to putting my heart and soul into this job for four more years,” he said, making no mention of the legislative battles ahead over taxes, expanding immigration laws, Social Security, the burgeoning budget deficit, judges and more.

Senate went to work Thursday
Eager to begin, the GOP-controlled Senate convened at midafternoon Thursday and confirmed Mike Johanns as secretary of agriculture and Margaret Spellings as secretary of education, the first of Bush’s nine new second-term Cabinet officers to win approval.

Senate Democrats are delaying confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, originally expected on Thursday, until next week. The inauguration, they said, was only a brief respite in their battle against the GOP majority.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told supporters in a fund-raising e-mail that “when the inauguration bands stop playing and Congress comes back into session, we Democrats will be on guard and ready to fight against the Republicans’ extreme policies once again.”

Bush’s inaugural address was light on specifics and heavy on high-minded symbolism. He pledged to reform “great institutions to serve the needs of our time.”

He talked of the spread of freedom and liberty as the oldest ideals of America, and said, “Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.”

Freedom and liberty cited often
Bush promised that U.S. relations with other countries would turn on how decently they treat their own people. He used the word “tyranny” five times, “liberty” 15 and “freedom” 27.

“We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion,” Bush said. “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

The only reference to Iraq was indirect. “Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon,” he said, mindful of impatience on Capitol Hill and in the public.

Instead, he left it to his State of the Union address, due for delivery to the nation in less than two weeks, and his new federal budget, due to Congress on Feb. 7, to flesh out in more detail his second-term goals and how he intends to achieve them.