Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Friday, January 21, 2005  

Inaugeral Speech

Peggy Noonan summed up my feelings about the speech perfectly.

I did not oppose the sentiments so much as the emphasis which was unrelieved about freeing the world.
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.

A short and self-conscious preamble led quickly to the meat of the speech: the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.

This world is not heaven.

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech.

Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth.

There was some fine rhetoric in the speech, though.

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.

One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.

I thought the over-emphasis on freedom for the world was over reaching as Ms. Noonan did. We're not here to save the world. We do better when we focus on saving America from its enemies, and just so happen to improve other people's lives as a result.

Utopian missions are not such good ideas and I thought the speech smacked too much of that. A little would have been fine in keeping with the results of our traditions on the world, but devoting the entire speech to making everyone free was too much.

Still, it won't come to that, of course, and wiser heads will prevail. Iraq has proven a tough nut to crack in that the Media and the Democrats make it near impossible to even work at keeping ourselves free and safe. The enemy within has had much success in blunting our self-defense. Imagine what they might accomplish were we to act in Syria or Iran.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:27 AM |