Monday, January 24, 2005

The Debate Over Freedom

While I was away over the weekend enjoying bright blue Rocky Mountain skies and attempting to ski down very icy, very steep ski runs, the debate over the President’s inauguration speech continued to rage amongst the talking heads. I am most interested in reading the opinions of those on the center right as the left is predictable in their response. They do not believe the United States has the moral authority to lead the world toward greater freedom. The Democrats response is predictable as well (not that the separation between the left and the Democrats is of any consequence any more, they are basically one and the same) in that no matter what the President said in his speech they would have declared it the most irresponsible "policy" in the history of the United States. So it is the opinion of conservatives that is most interesting. There are many who understood the speech and have deemed it to be one of the most important inauguration speeches in the history of the country, and there are those who believe that the ideas expressed in the speech were too grand, and they are concerned that the implementation of the "plan" will be of too great a cost. They want more details. Interesting. They seem to view the speech as a policy speech like any number of speeches given on Social Security reform, health care etc... As if there is an outline of a plan in the President's office that details how to bring freedom to the darkest corners of the globe:

Step 1: Elections in Iraq
Step 2: Military domination of every other country on the globe
Step 3: Force newly subordinated people's to vote at gunpoint

I find it difficult to believe that intelligent people cannot understand that the President's speech was not a preview of his second term, but a speech about the aspiration of man and the role of the United States at this time. It was a philosophical speech. Did Kennedy have specific requests of citizens when he said to ask not what your country may do for you, but what you can do for your country? No, he did not divvy up chores to specific parts of the country to be finished before his first term was complete.

I am confused as to how conservatives can be distressed by a Republican President giving a speech that calls for mankind to strive for the end of tyranny. Robert Kagan, journalist for the Washington Post went so far as to declare the President’s goals the “antithesis of conservatism”. Really? Which document defining conservatism declares the eternal desire to end tyranny a terrible goal? A larger question: How has mankind, and the United States in particular, come to the point that a debate is necessary when the leader of the free world declares that his country will always stand beside those who wish to free themselves from the shackles of a brutal dictator?

Conservatives who believe that the speech was meant to be an outline or preview of the President’s second term need to calm down reread the speech. Will President Bush hesitate to defend America or aide in some way those who try to rise up against their oppressors? No. But that does not mean, as many seem to think, that he believes he can through military might or other means, end all tyranny in the next four years. As another blogger stated on his site, the speech was a speech for the not yet born.

This is an eternal struggle. The United States is set to lead the struggle for the foreseeable future. It is a burden we will have to accept now and long after George Bush is no longer President.




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