Saturday, January 22, 2005

Thoughts on the Inauguration speech

I've had a few days to think the President's Inauguration speech over, and also to see some of the pro and con responses. To be fair, I haven't paid too much attention to the leftist responses, because a good portion of them are knee-jerkism at it's worst, and fail to grasp why the left needs to rebuild their ideology from the ground up. And the best critiques of the President's speech happen to come from the right, and some from the same 'neocon' area that Bush himself comes from. But I happen to think those critiques are wrong, and that the President's speech was not only brilliant, but also a clarion call for not just America, but also for the world, for generations to come. It's probably the most significant Presidential inauguration speech since Kennedy's.

Now, why are the right wing commentators wrong about the President's speech? For a few reasons. Firstly, the speech wasn't aimed at them, per se. It was aimed at the rest of America which is still unsure about what the country should do in the wake of 9/11 and Afghanistan/Iraq. It was also aimed at those in countries that are not free, and their leaders who keep them from freedom. Those that were freed from Communist control with the fall of the Soviet Union directly looked towards Regan's leadership against the 'evil empire' as their inspirations for overthrowing communist dictatorship. And those that look to free themselves from dicatorship- either the remaining socialists or theocratic ones- will look towards Bush's leadership and this speech as their inspirations. Did those critics bother to remember the situation in places like Iran and North Korea, where there appear to be growing dissident movements? Think about what this speech will have on those areas. It will have the effect of a 500 kiloton bomb being dropped onto the situation there, and for good reasons. What happens when a protester in Iran, with a sign that says "help free us America", at a demonstration that the Khamenist government trys to suppress while being filmed, gets onto Fox News? Does anyone in their right minds think that Bush won't act?

The other problem is that the critics ignore the realism in Bush's speech. He knows that the expansion of freedom won't be done overnight: "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. This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary." What that means, simply, is that the US will use all available resources to aid whoever they can, when they can. That doesn't mean that we'll get ourselves embroiled in the Congolese War, or yammer about what to do about China and Russia. Bush also realizes that much of the work will remain AFTER he leaves office: "The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause. " Here, Bush is actively telling everyone "hey, be patient, even Regan wasn't in office when the Soviet Union fell." He's also saying that there will be times when America will have to deal with other issues, as well. What that means, who knows? But if there's a looming Taiwanese/Chinese War on the horizon, you'd bet your bottom dollar that Bush (or his successors) isnt going to be able to afford to pay any attention to Somalia.

The last reason that they're wrong is that they primarily grew up and were active during the Cold War. Many are Reganites, who couldn't concieve of the dangers that this world currently faces, in the time we live in now. And this isn't to knock them, like William F. Buckley, or Peggy Noonan, who are great Americans. But it is to say that their mentality is different from what Bush is looking for- and what they are looking for. They saw his vision in the first 4 years of the Bush Administration- and it feels like they're now getting cold feet. Sure, there are things that need to be reworked, and concepts that need to be reexamined now that they've met reality, and not just idealism. But that doesn't mean that Bush's concepts, as a whole, are not fundamentally sound. Look, the only reason that Iraq is the way it is, is because of the American mainstream media. They hate Bush with a passion, and will do whatever it takes- even working with the enemy- to discredit any idea or initiative that Bush brings forth. The Iraqi War has, overall, been a resounding success, despite the fact that the media continues to harp on the WMD charges, troop casualties, and terror bombings in Iraq. The Reganites' view of the world was one in which the Soviet Union needed defeat, but preferrably not one in which nuclear war was the primary resort. Today, they see the world still through that prism, and play the cautious road wherever possible. I think Bush sees that America will just be dealing with the terror threat for quite some time to come, and that taking the cautious road will only lead to more American deaths.

The speech was very significant, and those that are nitpicking it just tells me that they didn't really want that speech, or just can't grasp it's ultimate meaning. It could also be that they'd built themselves up so much that ANY speech would have ended up being a letdown. I'd love to see what they would have wanted Bush to say, instead. And the handicaps would be simple: Bush was going to use his speech for international purposes (keep in mind, he has the SOTU speech up next), and that Bush wasnt going to fall for the media's shell game about Iraq.

Oh well, we're only human, I suppose. You can't please everybody.

UPDATE: Check out for more editorial perspective on the Bush speech, striking up similar issues that I bring up. It's quite good, and worth the read. There are more than one posts, so scroll down.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faf -

I really enjoyed your entry on this and had to comment.

"The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause. "

You hit on what I thought was a great quote, and your thoughts on its meaning are right on.

-- Deus

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post. You don't have Trackback, so I wanted to let you know I linked to you from here.

Thanks and good luck,
Todd W

2:08 PM  

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