Saturday, January 22, 2005

Final Thoughts on the Inauguration

David Brooks' column in the New York Times today offers one of the most fair and thoughtful comments I've read on the inauguration. He contrasts the exuberant party atmosphere in some quarters with the serious implications of a great inaugural speech:

What you saw in Washington that day is what you see in America so often - this weird intermingling of high ideals with gross materialism, the lofty and the vulgar cheek to cheek.

The people who detest America take a look at this odd conjunction and assume the materialistic America is the real America; the ideals are a sham. The real America, they insist, is the money-grubbing, resource-wasting, TV-drenched, unreflective bimbo of the earth. The high-toned language, the anti-Americans say, is just a cover for the quest for oil, or the desire for riches, dominion and war.


But of course they've got it exactly backward. It's the ideals that are real.


Two years from now, no one will remember the spending or the ostrich-skin cowboy boots. But Bush's speech, which is being derided for its vagueness and its supposed detachment from the concrete realities, will still be practical and present in the world, yielding consequences every day.


With that speech, President Bush's foreign policy doctrine transcended the war on terror. He laid down a standard against which everything he and his successors do will be judged.


He continued:

The speech does not command us to go off on a global crusade, instantaneously pushing democracy on one and all. The president vowed merely to "encourage reform." He insisted that people must choose freedom for themselves. The pace of progress will vary from nation to nation.

The speech does not mean that Bush will always live up to his standard. But the bias in American foreign policy will shift away from stability and toward reform. It will be harder to cozy up to Arab dictators because they can supposedly help us in the war on terror. It will be clearer that those dictators are not the antidotes to terror; they're the disease.

Bush's inaugural ideals will also be real in the way they motivate our troops in Iraq. Military Times magazine asked its readers if they think the war in Iraq is worth it. Over 60 percent - and two-thirds of Iraq combat vets - said it was. While many back home have lost faith, our troops fight because their efforts are aligned with the core ideals of this country, articulated by Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Lincoln, F.D.R., Truman, J.F.K., Reagan and now Bush.


And this in the New York Times, no less. Will wonders ever cease?

4 Comments:

Blogger Gindy said...

Off topic (I hope you don't mind), I read your comment. I am curious, who would you nominate for the Democrat and Republican if you could wave a majic wand? I had troubling deciding myself.

11:56 AM, January 22, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

"The speech does not command us to go off on a global crusade, instantaneously pushing democracy on one and all. The president vowed merely to "encourage reform." He insisted that people must choose freedom for themselves. The pace of progress will vary from nation to nation. "

This seems to be the concept that was lost on many. I don't think that we have grand designs on invading the world. I watched Hardball ( I find it entertaining at times) just after the speech and he was in a panic. He seemed to think that the speech was saying, be prepared to go into Syria, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Libyia, Morracco, China, etc. I actually hope most people didn't get that message.

12:02 PM, January 22, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Gindy, beyond question I would pick Colin Powell as the Republican nominee. In my opinion, there is no better choice. For more, see my post, Colin Powell. I also think he's the most electable potential candidate in the country.

My pick for the Democratic nominee would be someone of substance, not an ideologue, and electable. Joe Lieberman is the first who comes to mind. Other than him...I don't know, maybe Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson?

12:10 PM, January 22, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

Very interesting. Of all the times Colin Powell was brought up I sort of forgot about him. Probably because he said he was going to take a break. But '08 is enough time for a break. I am not sure I would like his policies toward Israel but that is a personal thing. Other than that he would probably be pretty good and get overall acceptance domeestically and internationally.

My first choice for the Democrats was Evan Bayh. The old Lieberman prior to the Al Gore campaign would be acceptable to me. I don't like some of the positions he has taken since then. Biden I don't like (that's it, I just don't like him) and Richarson would actually be another good choice. He is more moderate than many and I believe he has been good for NM. He even provided them with a tax cut (I am pretty sure). Thanks for the response. I was just curious.

4:09 PM, January 22, 2005  

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