Thursday, January 20, 2005
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Open second inaugural thread
Feel free to comment on President Bush's Second Inaugural Address here. here's how it closes:
posted by Dan on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM
Will this speech finally force us to retire those antiquated labels, "liberal" and "conservative?" Bush is a radical. If this speech were published by a French philosophe in 1775, it would have been a call to revolution. And that's what it is today, too, really. Bush is certainly a liberal, on the other hand. His slogan is "liberty." His rhetoric is reminiscent of Roosevelt.posted by: Lancelot Finn on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I wonder if the President understands that the means he has chosen to persue his extremely worthy ends make his eloquent words seem pitifully empty.
Does Bush feel he can torture his way to Democracy? That freedom can be bought abroad with his MasterCard economics and a few Marines?
We are given the language of uplift and sacrifice and the politics of tax cuts for the powerful, and "responsibility" for the masses.
This is the stuff that keeps me "appalled".posted by: Appalled Moderate on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
If rhetoric and action necessarily intersected, you might have a point. If you want to understand Bush, watch what he does, and forget about the speeches.posted by: JakeV on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
(My comment was directed at Lancelot Finn's post)posted by: JakeV on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I thought the speech was very good. In part, it showed to the world that America stands for freedom . . . not just America's freedom.posted by: PajamaHadin on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
That's some good speechifyin'.
I like the subtle dig at the people who've been hyperventilating at their belief that Bush thinks God Chose Him As President - and it's good theology as well.
Appalled: Don't you have somewhere more apt to repeat bumperstickers?posted by: Sigivald on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Having become familier with Michael Gerson's work, I'd say this was one of his better speeches. And Bush delivers a prepared text well. He always has.
In historical context the speech was Wilsonianism neat. No chasers invoking the importance of relating ends to means or prioritizing American efforts on behalf of liberty allowed! One would think that since we have an army in two of the countries we are trying to free from tyranny and have none to spare for the others some reference to setting priorities would be unavoidable. But the speech was meant to inspire, not inform.
Sadly my threshold of inspiration is rather high. I believe all people yearn for liberty just as I believe all novice violinists yearn to play at Carnegie Hall. There is no escaping the hard reality that satisfying either yearning is mostly up to them. That is not historical pessimism or realpolitik. That is life.
More practically I am not a fan of any President's appearing to make promises he will not be able to keep. We Americans are used to hyperbole from our politicians, but people elsewhere are liable either to take them at their word or to dismiss them as hypocrites. In earlier times when communications were slower extravagant things could be said in Washington and walked back with other governments later, while such inspiration as they provided -- which, to be fair, was often considerable -- could be allowed time to sink in with people under no illusion that the United States intended to relieve them of their burdens itself. Those times are past.
Of course one should try to understand the context of any speaker's remarks. For Bush, who throughout his public career has been intently focused on his domestic audience, it must have been tempting to dwell on the best hopes of the ineptly managed policy he has followed in Iraq. I would have preferred he resist that temptation, and the urge to attempt to join Lincoln in delivering a second inaugural address people would remember a hundred years hence. His speech today will be praised for its eloquence and vision, but it was not the speech of a wise man, or of a man who having run his last campaign has trascended the need to thrill Americans who already agree with him.posted by: Zathras on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
... & this would mean something if it had been penned, even to some minor degree, by Bush himself.
It is an artful piece of craftsmanship, with great flow, energy & emotion.
But my bookstore stocks many such. None of them were written by Bush either.posted by: Jon on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
What good are polling booths and the establishment of political parties when the economic welfare of 3/4 of the world is paltry? Liberty from what I ask? The seeds of freedom are implanted in economic opportunity, not political pluralism and so-called democracy.posted by: student on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I thought I was listening to Jimmy Carter, Bush was talking so much about freedom and human rights.posted by: Dave on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I have yet to hear anyone explain why the words Bush chooses to mouth have any significance at all.
PalamaHadin says that the speech "showed the world that America stands for freedom." This assertion assumes that 1) the world is paying attention to Bush's inaugural address, and 2) the world will believe that Bush's words represent real commitments to future action. I very much doubt that either of those is the case.
So again, why do these words matter?posted by: JakeV on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
In longer-term news, please take this poll:posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I liked the humble Bush better.posted by: email@example.com on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
" The seeds of freedom are implanted in economic opportunity, not political pluralism and so-called democracy."
posted by: Mark Buehner on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Among the few certainties of life is this: no one will mistake the second inaugural address of George W. Bush for that of Abraham Lincoln.
In one short speech, Bush encapsulated all the defining traits of his presidency. The rhetorical flourishes of his global crusade for freedom, a post-facto rationale for the war in Iraq, only amplified the arrogance and condescension that have earned America scorn abroad and produced shame for Americans at home. The meanness of spirit and the mocking tone of opponents was also present, as was the staggering hypocrisy and irony were on display. And, as usual, Bush called forth God in ways that devalue our democracy and insult our history...
For the details, see:posted by: Jon on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Helluva speech. I haven't heard many, but this one was powerful and revolutionary.
It loses something because I'm assuming that Bush didn't craft the stirring phrases, so it can't really compare to Lincoln's work, but it was a terrific speech.
And Lancelot Finn is right, Bush is a radical. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the most "conservative government" tendancies. But, he's on the right side of history in the foreign affairs dept., so that makes up for it. If he does one tenth of what he spoke about, more dictators are going to fall.
I think it's odd that some people are accusing Bush of not doing what he says. I'm worried that he's going to do everything that he says. It sounds terrific, but it also sounds quite hard and dangerous. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt because he's managed to make his ideas work so far, but he's shouldering a lot of responsibility.
Made me proud to be American. I support liberty and freedom for others. I don't want to go back to the evil compromises we made during the cold war.posted by: john jay on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Yes, Iraq is a shining example of making his ideas work.
Good theology, Sigivald?
"Day of fire"?
"Author of Liberty"?
There's plenty there to justify the hyperventilation.posted by: Rodger on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
"But my bookstore stocks many such. None of them were written by Bush either."
In all fairness, we should keep in mind that the last President who wrote his own material was Reagan.
Presidents usually say to their writers, "These are the points I want to make: ...", and the writers write.
Those who fault Bush for not being as eloquent as Cicero probably never heard Lyndon Johnson speak, or JFK (who always called Castro's island "Cuber").
We've had our share of great orators - Hitler, Mussolini - and we can do without more of the same. We can do with more of the kind of leader who says what he's going to do and does what he says, without having to first run it by a passel of focus groups.
posted by: Mike on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
"We've had our share of great orators - Hitler, Mussolini - and we can do without more of the same. We can do with more of the kind of leader who says what he's going to do and does what he says, without having to first run it by a passel of focus groups. We can do with more of the kind of leader who says what he's going to do and does what he says, without having to first run it by a passel of focus groups."
You do realize of course, that Hitler also said what he was going to do, and then did it without running it through focus groups ?
We can do with a leader who doesn't lie, is not intellectually uncurious and has more than a rudimentary knowledge of world affairs. Maybe we'll get one in 2008/
"America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof."
Except for gay people?posted by: Jon H on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Let's see President Bush travel to Sudan, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan and give that speech.posted by: trout on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
You need to revise your historical Gini coefficients and Lorenz curves. Political pluralism means little while standards of living fall. Economic opportunity gradually brings forth political pluralism. Today, that opportunity lies most significantly in economic autonomy.posted by: student on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
The speech was nothing but a bunch of platitudes!
The best way and only correct way to promote
I agree with Ben Franklin 100%. Nay, 1000%.
Reporter: "Gov. Bush, Do you believe Americans
Gov. Bush: "Yes, I believe they do."
THAT is what Americans want in a president???
It's laughable that someone who wants to spread
A sad day indeed, and more sad days ahead for America.
Ben Franklin said that aposted by: James on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
"Let's see President Bush travel to Sudan, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan and give that speech. "
Lets see John Kerry give it at an ANSWER rally.posted by: Mark Buehner on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Rodger: Perhaps I was unclear. I was referring to "God moves and chooses as He wills", and nothing else, as a smack to the people who've been hyperventilating about "Bush thinks he's Jebus!" for the past four years.
(If one believes in God, who else is the author of Liberty, but he who gave man free will? A "day of fire"? Well, 9/11 involved fire, right? And that IS what he's referring to, yes? I'm not sure where you relate that to theology, other than in some sort of vague and obviously unrelated to Bush's use relation to the Apocalypse.
I mean, Jesus Christ, guys. I'm an atheist and I think it's silly to worry about Impending Republican Theocracy just because he, you know, used the word "God" and seemed to really believe the word refers to more than a myth. Motes and beams, people.)posted by: Sigivald on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
(PS. Ann Althouse, not surprisingly, says this better than I do.)posted by: Sigivald on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
Sigivald: I was referring to "God moves and chooses as He wills", and nothing else, as a smack to the people who've been hyperventilating about "Bush thinks he's Jebus!" for the past four years.
In other words, Bush denied the charges. I don't know exactly what you mean by calling this a "smack." I've long since concluded that Bush is not an honest man, so I don't consider his denials to be meaningful.
Before starting a panic over the President's apparent Wilsonian idealism on steroids, it is worth remembering that Bush has not always been the outspoken proponent of democracy, individual liberty and human freedom:
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world...America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed."
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."
So,in China, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel and, for that matter, in the United States, people can take a deep breath and calm down.
As the President himself said on Thursday, "some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty." After all, he should know.
For more, see:posted by: Jon on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
I was there, I liked the speech. It wasn't the best or worst speech I've heard from a President, but it encapsulated what I've always thought about Iraq. When George announced he wanted to go in there, I knew it was to try and plant a seed of democracy in the Middle East. Bush is a gambler and is willing to play in the big stakes game, so it made sense. All this blather about WMD, lies, blah blah blah is just that, blather. Freedom and democracy is the ONLY thing that is going to solve the problem of terrorist breeding grounds once and for all.
Now for those who think otherwise, right or left, what's your answer? Why can't I ever get an alternative course of action instead of bitching about what went wrong?
......and the crickets chirp.posted by: dave on 01.20.05 at 12:48 PM [permalink]
John Jay: "Made me proud to be American. I support liberty and freedom for others. I don't want to go back to the evil compromises we made during the cold war."
If so, John, how do you explain the Bush Admin's support of Teodoro Obiang, dictator of Equatorial Guinea? (We'll take that one for starters.)
For more, see
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