Sunday, January 23


William Kristol, in this piece published in the Weekly Standard and linked to by the Claremont Institute, extols the virtues of President Bush's Second Inaugural Address, arguing in contrast to Peggy Noonan, William F. Buckley Jr., and others who took issue with its tone, tint and content, that it was a powerful and subtle speech ... ushering in a new era in American foreign policy.

As Kristol begins, this Second Inaugural Address of George W. Bush was informed by Straus and inspired by Paine, appealing to Lincoln and alluding to Truman, beginning with the Constitution and ending with the Declaration, with Biblical phrases echoing throughout ...

With it, informs Kristol, President Bush moves American foreign policy beyond the war on terror to the larger struggle against tyranny.

Kristol, in acknowledging its expansiveness, assures that the speech was not reckless. Indeed, he points to the famous Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy in saying that Bush's speech avoids John Kennedy's impressive, but overly grand, "pay any price, bear any burden" formulation.

Taking the gloves off, Kristol writes: If the critics of the speech who have denounced it as simple-minded were to read it, they would find it sophisticated. In an all too obvious allusion to Peggy Noonan's carping, Kristol responds: They might even find it nuanced.

Kristol concludes that on America's goal, as Bush describes it, of ending tyranny throughout the world, President Bush has it right -- profoundly right.

Kristol's is a nice piece of writing analyzing a brilliant piece of speechwriting. Indeed, he calls the president's Second Inaugural Address a historic speech.

Picking on the president has become an artform over the past four years. But the president has long since proven he can withstand it. His detractors can not turn up the heat in the kitchen high enough to make the president sweat or flee. Nor could Bin Laden, nor Saddam Hussein. They're his principals, 60+ million American voters endorsed them last November, and he's sticking to them.

And, to be sure, he's not brandishing a sword, as many have claimed; rather, Bush is simply invoking the sacred American principal, grounded in the natural laws of God, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain rights.

Remember, as Harry V. Jaffa writes in his seminal work, "A New Birth of Freedom," the idea of deciding who should govern by means of a free election by a whole people was something that the world had never known before the American Revolution. As Jaffa continues, most of mankind has always lived under what we, the heirs of the Founding Fathers and of Lincoln, call tyrannies.

In the long span of man's history on this earth, we in America have brought a "new birth of freedom" to our shores, but have only enjoyed its blessings in what amounts to the blink of an eye. Now President Bush has postulated that such liberty, such freedom from the enervating, ignoble grip of the tyrant, should become the goal of all peoples of the world.

Truth be known, Bush didn't disappoint in his address to the nation. Quite the contrary. The president ennobled all Americans, even those who continually chide him, in echoing the words of Abraham Lincoln:

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot retain it.