Bush’s Speech: A Conceptual Framework Pegged On Freedom
President George Bush’s inaugural speech basically tells Americans — and the world — that no matter what, the U.S. will not lose sight of the ball in play here and abroad: protecting and nurturing freedom.
Remember that very few inaugural speeches have a shelf life beyond a few weeks (or less) after the inauguration. Yes, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and JFK may have had some of the more memorable ones, but in general an inauguration is a time when the newly sworn-in-President gets a chance to reveal some of his core values.
You can read the full text of the speech linked above. There were indeed some excellent lines, but the jury is out whether four years from now — or four weeks from now — many people will be quoting them. This really doesn’t matter, since it’s what a newly installed President does with the speech that can signal his upcoming modis operendi or aspirations.
In Bush’s case:
- His speech was closer to Woodrow Wilson’s and FDR’s in its unyielding declaration of dedication to defending and spreading liberty.
- He didn’t do what some had predicted: he didn’t use the speech to link up the concept of freedom with key domestic programs. (Indeed, the time for that will come in the State of the Union Address, which contains specifics.)
- He didn’t shirk from a polite but pointed defense of his foreign policy.
- This was not a divisive speech but the kind of traditional unifying speech Americans have come to expect from Presidents.
- On balance, then, Bush comes out ahead because there doesn’t seem to be anything new in it that will set off a controversy but it also reaffirms in unyielding terms the broad concepts that he feels drives his administration’s foreign policy.
TWO QUICK UPDATES:
- A reader notes that GWB did mention Social Security accounts, etc. Yes, but this was virtually in passing — not the sell job that some had predicted. It was not linked up effectively. I read the text and saw the speech but it frankly didn’t hit me. My error…but this wasn’t what the advanced billing suggested would happen.
- Talk radio predictably has hosaannas on Right Talk Radio and pans on Left Talk Radio. Critics say it was a divisive speech, etc. Our view: it was a typically bland inaugural speech.
The REAL FIREWORKS will come during and after the State of the Union address — which will probably signal the opening salvo in some of the most bitter partisanship on both sides in years. The reason: the GOPers know there is limited time to push their agenda through. The Demcrats as an opposition party still have some things they can legitimate do to either halt or slow down legislation, or possibly get some concessions.
OTHER VIEWS (will be updated throughout the day so check back):
He’s not thinking small: "Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country." He plugs the Koran, too. ANOTHER UPDATE: Funny, I switched about halfway through from NPR to an AM station running Fox, and on the AM station the applause sounded much louder.
—Roger Simon says the speech "seems to me a good one, particularly these simple and clear lines…I do not see the world in exactly Bush’s theist terms, but if his committment to freedom comes from a Higher Authority, that’s fine with me. I care about his actions.
—Jeff Jarvis on media coverage:
Oh, breaking news: Wolf tells us that Bush is riding in a new presidential limo. It still has that four-more-years smell.
I’m not being cynical. Really, I’m not. Our form of government is the best there is. The transfer or continuation of power is our best accomplishment.
But this is all style, no substance.
My biggest hope for Bush 43.5 is that it doesn’t suck as much as most second-term administrations do….It’s been a busy four years, and the next four don’t promise much respite. If only because of exhaustion, it could be difficult for voters to elect another Republican in 2008.
So I guess, really, that my biggest hope in the next four years is that the Democrats can fix what ails them at the national level. From this far out, the next Republican field of candidates looks pretty weak to me – but the Democrats look like they could be even worse.
—Bull Moose (like Stephen Green MUST be read in FULL):
As expected, the Gersonian poetry soared in the President’s inaugural address. Fine and noble sentiments about freedom were expressed that are applauded by the Moose.
But the speech raises the question – has the President visited America lately? If he had, he would find that he presides over a deeply divided nation. If he were in touch with the reality of America, he would discover that the country has deep doubts about the wisdom of the war in Iraq. If he knew his nation, he would realize that many Americans suffer from the lack of health care coverage. He would know that child poverty is on the rise.
No, the President was preaching to the converted. He was singing to the choir. He failed to offer an olive branch to the half of the nation that did not support him. While there was eloquence aplenty, political imagination was nonexistent. No creative rhetoric or proposals were expressed to heal the breach. It is not in him.
—Libertarian Girl draws parallels between Bush’s speech and Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address writing, among other things:
There is a less expensive way to remove anti-American dictators from power. We can replace them with pro-American puppet dictators. Surely we could have found a general in Saddam’s army who would have been willing to play ball with us in exchange for being made the new dictator of Iraq.
Which way is right? Should we be responsible for establishing democracy in every nation we attack in self defense? Why not just look out for our own interests, preserve our own security, and not worry about whether the new government is any more democratic than the old government?
Whichever path we follow, both are better than doing nothing and allowing militant Islam and anti-American totalitarian governments developing nuclear weapons to flourish unopposed.
—Pieter Dorsman: If anyone believed â€“ on the Democratic side especially â€“ that the â€œworld will never be the same notionâ€? after 9/11 could somehow be reversed and that after a Bush presidency older foreign policy concepts could be revived, well, Bush ended any feelings in that direction this morning. The bold agenda summarized in his speech and its legacies are going to stay well after Bush will leave office four years from now."
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