Saturday, January 22, 2005


What I Thought Of The Speech.

As I mentioned previously, since I was at the Inauguration I ironically did not get to hear much of the speech. The half-dozen people committed to protesting made it difficult for the thousands of us in the seated section to hear the speech at points.

What I did hear left me a little bored. The rhetoric was tough, but uninspiring. The delivery was exceptionally flat for George W. Bush-- and that's saying a lot. For the most part, it felt as if he was reading the words, not speaking them. Most of the applause lines landed with a thud.

And, let's be honest, any inaugural speaker that uses the word "bullies" can't be considered brilliant.

Now, that's not to say that the speech was a bad speech on paper. There is certainly a lot of rhetorical meat in the text. Still, as oratory, I'd grade the speech as a failure. Oh well, nobody ever compared the President to William Jennings Bryan.

As for the content. . . I appreciate it. I don't know if I *like* it-- as some critics have argued, Bush said a lot of things perhaps better left unsaid-- but as an unreformed American militant, I find nothing to complain about in the scope of the speech. In fact, there is a lot to celebrate in those honest words.

Chris Matthews last night got his Rice Krispies all soggy over the speech, arguing that it was a speech filled with dangerous bravado and antagonistic hubris. At his worst, Matthews laid out a nightmare scenario where Bush takes the nation to war against *Iran*, only to discover that the Iranians don't want democracy, and after an American attack they instead mobilize against us under the flag of nationalism.

Of course that's a possibility. It is just as possible, however, that the Iranian people-- you know, the folks the Mullahs exploit-- just might be amenable to a little regime change for their own sake.

Critics who scoff at this notion point to Iraq, and the pre-war fantasy of very few, that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms and place flowers around our necks. Well, not-an-insignificant number of Iraqis did do just that.

When it comes time to make a partisan point, however, the anti-war crowd conveniently forgets those Iraqis, those stooges. They prefer to concentrate only on the Iraqis who *don't* want us there.

Their self-induced ignorance, however, if allowed to direct our policy, will ultimately result in more, not less bloodshed.

The first victims will be those brown peoples the Left professes to care so much about, as the jihadis in Iraq slaughter those left defenseless after our departure.

The next victims will be those shackled in the gulags of Pyongyang, the prisons of Tehran, and the torture chambers of Damascus, their "leaders" so emboldened by our retreat they choose the moment of American surrender to clean their own house of all threats to their tyranny.

Eventually, the victims will be Americans yet again. Only this time, the Americans won't be carrying assault rifles within their armored vehicles. Instead, they'll be Americans in New York, in Boston, in Washington, in Peoria, in Tuscon, and elsewhere.

Think not? Think abandoning Iraq is the solution? Ask Osama which event was better for business: the surrender of Somalia or the destruction of the Taliban. Why is it so difficult for anti-war critics to understand that our enemies grow strongest when we are weakest?

Was President Bush ambitious in his speech? Yes, definitely, of course. No realist worth their salt would agree to such a messianic crusade for democracy. They'd be content to play the evil men of the world against each other while they sat safe behind the walls of America.

Trouble is, we've learned that the walls can never be high enough. We've also learned that when you let evil fester in this world, it undergoes rapid evolution, like a genetic mutation. Our enemies have evolved over the decades to become increasingly dangerous. The risk in fighting back is that, while the last terrorist left standing may be unable to motivate new followers for his cause, the last terrorists left standing may be those most capable of surviving whatever it is we throw at them.

We can still lose this war.

Still, President Bush is right-- and Chris Matthews is wrong-- when he talks about the inevitability of freedom. Matthews and others may feel that a history of hatred, or the worship of the Koran automatically disqualifies you from even wanting to live free, let alone knowing how to live free.

Human nature is always in play, of course, and men are as likely to be demons as they are angels. However, if Americans, and Germans, and Japanese, and South Koreans, and so many other people in this world are able to learn how to deal with the darkness of their souls, then I see no reason to believe that the men and women of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and elsewhere can not be challenged to emulate the examples of those who've gone before.

As I've written before, no American may like the French, but no American fears the French. Yet, they have nuclear weapons, and the means upon which to deliver them to our soil. How is this possible? Simple-- intentions matter. And right now, a wide ugly swath of our world is filled with intentions of evil-- against their own people, against their neighbors, against men of other faiths, and against men of other flags.

President Bush laid out his vision, but he will no longer be President when and if it succeeds. The mission set before us is truly a task of decades. Yet, just look what can happen in decades: enemies can become allies, tyrannies can become free states, and empires can disappear. For so long our leaders limited themselves only to what was possible around the bend. There were good reasons for these limits-- hostile nuclear weapons did much to fence in freedom. Sadly, the march of technology makes it nearly inevitable that hostile weapons of mass destruction may one day fence in freedom yet again. In fact, that's just the case in North Korea today. We can't afford to let our enemies control our destiny-- whether those enemies work with a car bomb or an atomic bomb.

Right now is our moment. We are at our strongest, and our enemies are at their weakest. We can make the lives of millions-- of billions-- better if only we stand for the greatest good the politics of man has ever known: liberty.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a stupid American.

UPDATE: My brother made a good point in the comments, raising the common complaint against Bush's vision, that its scale (years, even decades) is so large as to be unworkable. The complaint is that Bush can never hope to achieve it in four years.

First, I don't think Bush plans to do everything he has to do in four years. If anything, as I've mentioned before, part of the plan in the next four years must be centered on finding a way to make this vision bipartisan. The only way for that to happen is for us to succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, so will Bush's vision. But a victory there will discover many fathers.

More relevant to my brother's point: since when did a timespan of decades mean anything to those on the Left? These are the same critics who, if the mike were turned around, would criticize the President for not signing Kyoto because the President argues its effects wouldn't make a difference for decades.
If we expect our leaders to plan out decades for a degree in temperature, I certainly hope that we can plan out decades to keep us safe from our enemies.

This posting was made on my personal computer.


Further, I love the critics I've heard out here on Left Coast Radio who fault Bush for "overreaching" by setting an agenda that cannot possibly be accomplished in the term of his presidency.

Forgive the simplistic nature of the comparison here, but hmmmm... Kennedy. 1960. Man on the Moon before the end of the decade. Nah...
These are the same critics who, if the mike were turned around, would criticize the President for not signing Kyoto because its effects wouldn't make a difference for decades.

If we expect our leaders to plan out decades for a degree in temperature, I certainly hope that we can plan out decades to keep us safe from our enemies.
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