If you never heard the president speak before, you could get a pretty fair picture of what the man stands for from his speech tonight:
Hes a man of his word, a man of the American founding, a man of God, and, yes, a former governor.
Bush was smart to leave the best, the most important, for last: foreign policy, where his sense of duty and honor came through with conviction and purpose. Examples: "Let me put it this way: theyre no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies." And, "Theyre learning the meaning of American justice." Can anyone imagine Clinton or Carter saying this of terrorists that no longer walk this earth because of the sinews of American power?
He clearly put forth an American foreign policy that sees prevention, not reaction, as the best means of national defense. Taking a page from Hadley Arkes, he noted that while America will consult with the United Nations--Feb. 5 to be exact--"the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others." This is one tough hombre, a man who takes his oath of office seriously-- to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Peter already stole the best line of the speech(and I quote from memory), that "the gift of liberty that Americans prize is not their gift to the world but the gift of God to humanity." Not a bad rendition of the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Quite refreshing to have a president who thinks the American founding is worth setting ones sights by.
The president once again reminded the American people that they are a nation under God, which means both His favor and His judgment. In discussing his faith-based initiative, Bush alluded to a Christian hymn with the line about "power, wonder-working power," and he closed the speech with an invitation to place "our confidence in a loving God." Its no surprise our Republican president spoke of an America he hoped would promote "a culture that values every life," while the Democratic response (via Washington State Gov. Locke) endorsed "the right to choose." Perhaps the governor should brush up on that other Locke to learn aright where rights derive from.
Thankfully, Bush devoted the first (and least memorable) part of the speech to the presidential wish list for Congress. This reminded me that his compassionate conservatism has a lot to do with his experience as a governor. State governments are supposed to administer programs and whatnot, something we should hear less about from a conservative Republican president. Federal dollars for R&D to produce hydrogen-powered automobiles? That said, his promotion of economic growth as the key to higher employment rates and greater tax revenues was a return to standard, conservative fiscal policies.
"Free people will set the course of history." A simply statement of the president. May the United States rise to the challenge and responsibility of this maxim.