David Domke and Kevin Coe point out, in an interesting article for The Revealer, that Bush’s religious language is radically different to the religious language of other presidents:
The key difference is this: Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have spoken as petitioners of God, seeking blessing and guidance; this president positions himself as a prophet, issuing declarations of divine desires for the nation and world. Most fundamentally, Bush’s language suggests that he speaks not only of God and to God, but also for God. Among modern presidents, only Ronald Reagan has spoken in a similar manner — and he did so far less frequently than has Bush.
They have analysed the inaugural speeches of all presidents and found that: “For presidents other than Reagan or Bush, only four of 61 addresses (7%) contained claims linking the wishes of God with freedom or liberty.” While “such claims were present in five of 12 addresses (42%) by Reagan and Bush.”
It is only a short article and I don’t find the examples they give entirely convincing although instinctively I think the distinction is useful. A detailed analysis of concepts of mission, religious destiny, fate and eschatology from the inaugural addressess may be an interesting way forward in my analysis of the intertextual relations between Bush and previous presidential texts.