Buried in the middle of Peter Baker’s generally excellent 3,000-word profile in Monday’s Washington Post on President Bush’s state of mind is a very odd sentence. The sentence does not directly relate to the main point of the story, but is a strange religion ghost in an article that discusses Bush’s Christian faith in a few places.
Baker is comparing Bush’s ability to handle the pressure and worries carried by the leader of the free world with the reputation of past presidents such as Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Here is the paragraph:
Other presidents have been crushed by the pressure. Lyndon B. Johnson was tormented by Vietnam War protesters outside his window shouting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Nixon swam in self-pity during Watergate, talking to paintings and once asking Henry Kissinger to pray with him. Bill Clinton fumed against enemies and nursed deep grievances during his impeachment battle.
Asking your National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to pray with you is an act of presidential self-pity? Since when?
I can see how talking to paintings can be considered an act of general weirdness. I can also see how asking diplomat Henry Kissinger, a German-born Jew, to pray with you can be considered odd, but is it really that strange considering that Nixon was a Quaker? I can also see how Nixon could be characterized as a swimmer in self-pity, especially at the end of his presidency.
But when did asking someone, anyone, to pray with you, become an act of self-pity? Perhaps we need more context?