Saturday, January 22, 2005

What's up with Peggy?

"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a Heaven for?" (Robert Browning)

In the aftermath of the President's Inaugural address, it is instructive to see what our friends are saying.

True Friends

The modern United States is the inheritor not only of Greece’s glory but of Rome’s reach. President Bush’s second inaugural address professed anew this self-confidence of a nation tirelessly willing and uniquely empowered to take on the responsibilities of global leadership. But more important even than America’s dynamism and economic resilience is the durability of its central ethos: the power of freedom. The genius of the founding fathers, which was celebrated again yesterday, has created the world ’s most stable, successful, and, for all the current phobias, still the most appealing model of society for humankind. (Gerard Baker, London Times)

For Bush, it seems, man's direction is set by the way he is, by the hope of liberty within--a hope that is planted by none other than the Author of Liberty. Ecclesiastes says that eternity is set in the hearts of men. So, too, Bush says, is liberty. The key point is that Bush believes in providence. Few national Democrats share that same belief, though until recent decades most adhered to it. To many Democrats, the idea that God is actively at work in the world, and that He works through nations including the United States, indeed centrally through the United States, to bring about his will--all of that seems a bit old-fashioned, not to say hopelessly naive. Here is a difference between Bush and most Democrats. It's a difference as sharp as any other, and it's not likely to disappear anytime soon. (Terry Eastland, The Weekly Standard)

With that speech, President Bush's foreign policy doctrine transcended the war on terror. He laid down a standard against which everything he and his successors do will be judged. When he goes to China, he will not be able to ignore the political prisoners there, because he called them the future leaders of their free nation. When he meets with dictators around the world, as in this flawed world he must, he will not be able to have warm relations with them, because he said no relations with tyrants can be successful. Bush's inaugural ideals will also be real in the way they motivate our troops in Iraq. Military Times magazine asked its readers if they think the war in Iraq is worth it. Over 60 percent - and two-thirds of Iraq combat vets - said it was. While many back home have lost faith, our troops fight because their efforts are aligned with the core ideals of this country, articulated by Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Lincoln, F.D.R., Truman, J.F.K., Reagan and now Bush. (David Brooks, New York Times)

False friends

In a speech certain to alarm Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia - and discomfort Europeans uneasy about the unbridled exercise of American power - the re-elected president said he would no longer "pretend" that intolerant regimes were acceptable. (The Scotsman, Editorial)

Although President Bush's uncompromising second inaugural address does not so much as mention the words Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terror, he and his supporters continue to engage in a planned reordering of the world. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are but one part of a supposedly universal effort to create world order by "spreading democracy". This idea is not merely quixotic - it is dangerous. The rhetoric implies that democracy is applicable in a standardised (western) form, that it can succeed everywhere, that it can remedy today's transnational dilemmas, and that it can bring peace, rather than sow disorder. It cannot. (Eric Hobsbawm, The Guardian)

America’s need for brute force as a substitute for moral suasion may be increasing. Mr. Bush said “freedom” 27 times in his speech. John F. Kennedy could be more sparing with the word because the idea behind it shone so brightly for America then, and for the world. Arguments are cheap, and America had the best arguments, the best visions, and the best tunes. Deservedly or undeservedly, America has lost the tune. America’s modesty in 1945 understated its muscle, just as Bushite vanity overstates it today. He has over-reached. His country is overstretched, losing economic momentum, losing world leadership, and losing the philosophical plot. America is running into the sand. (Matthew Parris, London Times)

So what do you think? Is America uniquely empowered to take on the responsibilities of world leadership....and the most appealing model of society for mankind, or is she running into the sand?

One Confused Lady

Laura Bush's beauty has grown more obvious; she was chic in shades of white, and smiled warmly. As for the President...

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. (Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal)

So the lovely Peggy, who has been called "a bride of George W. Bush" and Bush's "attack poodle par excellence," has struck a discordant note that has all her admirers, most especially moi, in a deep funk. What's up with you Peggy? Lost your idealism?


Blogger Ralph said...

Re Your Post FALSE FRIENDS, I wonder how President Bush can use moral arguments with people and governments are no longer capable of making moral judgements. What sort of morality do these senile Europeans accept?

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