More on Prague Conference on Democracy & Security
President George W. Bush reaches out to shake the hands of Jose Maria Aznar, left, former Prime Minister of Spain, and Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center, after speaking Tuesday, June 5, 2007, to democracy advocates in Prague. (White House photo by Eric Draper).
For more on President Bush's June 5th, 2007 address at the Conference on Democracy and Security, held at the Czernin Palace in Prague, Czech Republic, go to Jewish Current Issues.
One sees that President Bush realized his speech would likely be ignored by the mainstream media. At a press conference, after a reporter told the President that he loved the speech, this exchange followed:
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Say that in your stories.
Q I'll say it anywhere. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: What did he say?
Q I'll say it anywhere.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. How about in print? (Laughter.)
Q Oh, well --
THE PRESIDENT: That may be taking it too far. (Laughter.)
Gee, that would be funny if it were not true. Perhaps if the President had put in an opinion about the Paris Hilton case....?
Senator Joe Lieberman also spoke at the conference. This quote from his speech will no doubt bring his standing in his former party even lower:
"We have been blessed throughout American history with leaders who have recognized these powerful truths. A generation ago, it was Ronald Reagan and Senator Scoop Jackson who came to the side of the dissidents in their fight against Soviet totalitarianism. Today, as well, we are fortunate to have a president, George W. Bush, who has given voice to the cause of freedom fighters from Iraq to North Korea to Cuba to Iran and beyond."
Praising Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush--the man never learns! Read Senator Lieberman's entire speech here.
The only newspaper account of the President's speech, an opinion piece by Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun, appears here. Here is an excerpt from that column:
He came, he saw, he humbled himself. Never before has the president of America gone out of his way to pay tribute to a gathering of dissidents. The most powerful man on earth acknowledged that these otherwise powerless individuals from five continents possess what he rightly called "an even greater power — the power of conscience."
What had brought President Bush to make this pilgrimage to Prague, en route to the G-8 summit? The answer echoed through the noble vision outlined in his speech — a speech that several seasoned observers of presidential oratory who attended the conference judged to be among the best that Mr. Bush has ever given.
This man, beset by his foes and abandoned by friends, still cares passionately about the love of liberty that inspires men and women to extraordinary self-sacrifice, even if the vision he set out in his second inaugural speech is as far from reality as ever. At one point, he made a wry reference to his own isolation, both among the leaders of the free world, and even within his own administration. Former chairman of the defense policy board advisory committee to George W. Bush, Richard Perle, had earlier reminded us that the president was "coming here to meet with his fellow dissidents." "If standing up for liberty makes me a dissident," Mr. Bush said, "I wear that title with pride."
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Conference on Demoncracy & Security produced a declaration, "The Prague Document," which President Bush has endorsed. The Prague Document is both an high-minded declaration of human freedom and a practical program for futhering human freedom in less-than-free societies.
I believe that President Bush's Prague speech and the Prague Document will be read and studied long after the names of the President's critics are forgotten.