Scott Ott at Scrappleface departs from his usual gentle satire to post a "Cliff Notes" version of President Bush's inaugural address "so that every average public school graduate, journalist, and pundit can understand what the president means." An excerpt:
"We want freedom everywhere, not because we're crazy dreamers, but because governments held accountable to their people don't launch wars against each other. In the good old days, we could sit back and watch as tyrants tortured the helpless and fortified their arsenals. A rifle in the Middle East, or Asia, was no threat to our shores. Today, a man carrying a briefcase could wipe out millions of Americans in a single afternoon. We can't eliminate the sinful urges of crazed men, but we can help oppressed people to dump their dictators. Kill the snake by cutting off its head."Read the whole thing here. You'll be glad you did.
Peggy Noonan did not think much of the speech. I think she is right in charging that some of it was either over the top or very close to it. Peggy says Bush's thoughts are "marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty. "
"Moral modesty." What an interesting choice of words. I fear she may have a point there. Even so, although that worries me a little, I can live with it. Inaugural speeches are supposed to be lofty.
Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today responds to Peggy:
. . . those who fault Bush for an excess of idealism, or an insufficiency of realism, are not grappling with the conceptual breakthrough of his speech, which is to declare the idealism-realism dichotomy a false choice. A key passage:Stones Cry Out collects some fine commentary and divergent points of view.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
The lesson Bush drew from Sept. 11 is that "realism" is unrealistic--that the "stability" that results from an accommodation with tyranny is illusory. To Bush, there is no fundamental conflict between American ideals and American interests; by promoting the former, we secure the latter. Maybe he'll turn out to be wrong, but for now the burden ought to be on those who, in the wake of Sept. 11, hold to a pre-9/11 view of what is "realistic."
Noonan is right that "ending tyranny in the world" is a fantastically ambitious aspiration, one that isn't going to be realized anytime soon. But Bush didn't promise to do it in the next four years or even in our lifetimes. He said it was "the ultimate goal" and "the concentrated work of generations."
Fred Barnes has an excellent short summary of the speech's high points and significance.
Hugh Hewitt's roundup is pretty good, too (he includes a link to, and commentary on, the Fred Barnes piece).
Power Line, unsurprisingly, has good links to strong, unique thinking that you won't find anywhere else. How do those guys find time to practice law?