Friday, January 21, 2005

Observations on the Inauguration

Peggy Noonan, normally not one to be overly critical of President Bush, described her Inauguration Day experiences and expressed misgivings about the tone and scope of the President's Second Inaugural Address. The column contains many delicious Noonanisms and is worth reading in full. A sample:

The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike. Rhetorically, it veered from high-class boilerplate to strong and simple sentences, but it was not pedestrian. George W. Bush's second inaugural will no doubt prove historic because it carried a punch, asserting an agenda so sweeping that an observer quipped that by the end he would not have been surprised if the president had announced we were going to colonize Mars.

The President's purpose, of course, was to define the nation's values and to plot our course into a future where we can help the world become more democratic and free. He knows, as I'm sure most of us do, that there are practical limitations that will prevent us from achieving perfect success. But there's nobility in the effort, and every measure of success, however small, will make life better for someone on the planet we all share.

As Robert Browning said it, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?"

* * *

A Washington Post news analysis today took a somewhat more positive view of the President's address (in contrast with their editorial). This quote from the article reflects the tone of the analysis:

John Lewis Gaddis, a Yale University historian who has written influential critiques of Bush's first-term policies abroad, predicted the address would echo for years. "It's very much in the tradition of great speeches of the past," he said, adding that the speech says: "This is where we want to be some distance from now. We understand we can't get there tomorrow. But it's important to have that destination described.


Finally, in a Washington Post letter to the editor, Ty Clevenger of Arlington, Virginia said:

I was amazed by the viciousness of the anti-Bush protesters I encountered while waiting in line to enter the Black Tie and Boots Ball Wednesday night.

They didn't just vent their hatred for President Bush; they vented their hatred for all Texans. They chanted about "racists" and "sexists" and blamed these ills on Texas. They even insulted men's cowboy hats. I dare say the most ardent Clinton-haters wouldn't have stood outside a ball insulting all people from Arkansas.

However, the personal insults were the least of the protesters' offenses.

Many compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, thereby treating the deaths of 6 million Holocaust victims as some kind of sideshow. I'm sure red- and blue-state voters alike wouldn't appreciate that.

I suppose we'll have to tolerate these kinds of distasteful protestors as long as Republicans are in power. Unfortunately, their ignorance and hatred, widely publicized at home and abroad by our media, have an impact that far exceeds their numbers and significance.

To paraphrase Henry II: Will no one rid us of these meddlesome pests?


Blogger Gindy said...

I read this article (Noonan)and it did make me think a little. But, I liked the speech. A lot of people think it meant we are going to go around the world attacking countries. I don't think that was the point. It seems that would still be a last resort. We still have many diplomatic and economic incentives to encourage democracy. It would also takes years to make this happen and not over night.(but it is possible that I misunderstood her point)

7:00 PM, January 21, 2005  

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