I realize I have missed the spin cycle on this and it is largely irrelevant, but nevertheless, a comment on the President’s Inaugural Address:
Perhaps the principal reason Jefferson believed so ardently in self-government is that he believed not at all in original sin. He therefore believed in a fundamental sense that freedom could not produce evil. As in other respects, this meant that Jefferson was at odds with traditional Christian teachings, which in varying degrees remained skeptical of natural man. Over time, most Protestant denominations in the United States in effect gave in to or accommodated Jeffersonianism. Holiness movements and the doctrine of sanctification accompanied the development of the view that when man reached moral perfection, then Christ would come again. In this perspective, it made sense to anticipate the end of tyranny on earth and to work ardently for that day, through Abolitionism and other movements of moral improvement. It was this theology and its political manifestations that, or so I was taught, Lincoln dissected and satirized in the Temperance Address. Lincoln did not think that it was possible to end tyranny in our world, that there would actually be a Reign of Reason. What does President Bush, an adherent it appears of the theology descended from holiness and sanctification, think? Clearly, remarks in the speech are intended to show some moderation, but the claims he makes are quite grand. He claims, for example, to know the direction of human history. He does not appear to speak with irony about this. (His new Secretary of State, in an article published before President Bush’s first election, claimed that the United States was on the right side of history.) If this is true, then Bush is really a follower of FDR (Bush spoke of freedom from want and fear) and of LBJ, more than a follower of Lincoln.