Administration Is Singing More Than One Tune on Spanish Version of Anthem

Peter Baker, Washington Post, May 3, 2006

President Bush declared last week that the national anthem should be sung in English not Spanish, but he evidently never told his own government or campaign organizations.

The State Department posts four Spanish versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on its Web site, and accounts from the 2000 election suggest that the song was at times performed in Spanish at Bush campaign events. Critics even turned up one reference to Bush himself singing the anthem in Spanish on the trail, but there was no confirmation.

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Bush waded into the matter last week after British producer Adam Kidron issued “ Nuestro Himno .” Responding to a reporter, Bush said: “I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English. And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.”

But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose not to repeat his formulation Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I’ve heard the national anthem done in rap versions, country versions, classical versions,” she said. “The individualization of the American national anthem is quite underway.”

And there seems little evidence that the matter had concerned Bush before. The Center for American Progress, a liberal group run by Clinton chief of staff John D. Podesta, posted on its blog a reference to Bush singing the anthem in Spanish. In his book, “American Dynasty,” Kevin Phillips wrote that Bush “would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in Spanish, sometimes partying with a ‘Viva Bush’ mariachi band flown in from Texas.”

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NEW YORK After “Nuestro Himno,” the Spanish-language version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was released last week, President George W. Bush said, “I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.”

A new Gallup poll, conducted April 28-30, and released today, finds that nearly 7 in 10 Americans, 69%, say it is only appropriate to sing the national anthem in English, while 29% say it is appropriate for people to sing the song in Spanish.

There is an enormous age gap on this issue, however, with those 18 to 29 almost evenly split, while all older age groups strongly oppose the Spanish version.

“Self-described conservatives are more likely than moderates or liberals to say it is appropriate to only sing the national anthem in English,” Gallup reports.

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