Friday, January 21, 2005

The Inaugural Speech 

Peggy Noonan didn't like it. I thought it was boring. And wrong. We cannot go around the world militarily taking out leaders we don't like. This only invites retaliation and hatred of Americans. Here's her summary:

There were moments of eloquence: "America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies." "We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery." And, to the young people of our country, "You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs." They have, since 9/11, seen exactly that.
And yet such promising moments were followed by this, the ending of the speech. "Renewed in our strength--tested, but not weary--we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."

This is--how else to put it?--over the top. It is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if this White House did not, in the preparation period, have a case of what I have called in the past "mission inebriation." A sense that there are few legitimate boundaries to the desires born in the goodness of their good hearts.

The President's first inaugural address was actually much better. Our family went to the Mall that day and I remember thinking it was beautiful. The speech is an interesting read in the context of being given before 9/11/01 and in light of the legal battle over who won the election. Here's an excerpt:

Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.

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