Bush accused of hypocrisy over Spanish star-spangles

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The Independent US

He is known for his mutilation of the English language. Now, President George Bush has been accused of mangling Spanish too.

That would not usually be embarrassing for the tongue-twisted President Bush. Except that in this case, the revelation that he has been seen trying to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" in Spanish comes at a time when he has made clear his opposition to a Latino recording of the US national anthem.

The former Texas governor has been known to break into Spanish on the campaign trail, and often sprinkles Spanish phrases into his speeches.

In American Dynasty, Kevin Phillips writes that during the 2000 presidential campaign, Mr Bush "would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in Spanish."

But last week, the US President came out publicly against the recording of a Spanish version of the anthem by a small indie label which stirred outrage among white conservatives.

The record, produced by a British-born music impresario called Adam Kidron, has a Live Aid-style line-up of Latino artists who sing the anthem in a reasonably faithful Spanish translation, under the title "Nuestro Himno", or "Our anthem".

President 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."

But later Mrs Bush said: "I don't think there's anything wrong with singing it in Spanish." And Condoleezza Rice, his Secretary of State, said: "People expressing themselves as wanting to be Americans is a good thing."

Asked about Mr Phillips' book, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "Not only was that suggestion absurd, but he couldn't possibly sing the national anthem in Spanish. He's not that good with his Spanish."