'Whirlwind' Phrase from Inauguration Causes Confusion

Article excerpt

Dear Call Box: At the end of George W. Bush's inaugural address he said, "This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm." Can you tell me to what this refers? -- M.G.

Dear M.G. You're not the only person curious about the phrase. Bush included a number of religious references in his speech. However, this one produced some discussion. Former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan, in a Wall Street Journal column, wrote that the phrase was "opaque."

Here are a few clues:

A book titled Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution was written by Benson Bobrick a few years ago. The title came from a letter written by John Page, a Virginia statesman, to Thomas Jefferson two weeks after the Declaration of Independence was adopted: "God preserve the United States. We know the Race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?"

The "race to the swift" phrase is a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. The origin of the "angel in the whirlwind" phrase is less clear. While there are plenty of references to angels and whirlwinds in the Bible, we could not find the exact phrase. …


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