Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

GWB and Advancing the Cause of Freedom

Bush’s convictions, principles, and policy agenda were clearly outlined in his Second Inaugural Address. In a word, the man believes in freedom, and believes it his duty as president to protect it at home and promote it abroad.

His 24-minute speech reminded us of the vicious character of our enemies, the noble aspirations of our country, and his resolve to "advance the cause of freedom" as the most formidable challenge and opportunity of our time.

President Bush’s address was conservative in its principles, hearkening back to the timeless truths of the Declaration of Independence. But it was also daring in its acknowledgment of the need to reform "our great institutions" (think, Social Security, here) to meet the needs of our time.

To this American citizen, the hallmark of the speech was his quotation from an 1859 letter Abraham Lincoln wrote on the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday:

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."
In his attempt to help every American become a stakeholder in American society, "an agent of his or her own destiny," our president shows his profound understanding of the glorious possibilities and challenges of human freedom. Moreover, Bush’s commitment to human freedom should serve as the starting point for all discussion of how he intends to address the mundane aspects of domestic policy and the sublime considerations of foreign policy. In sum, the president has announced an ambitious and worthy agenda for the next four years; may we do our best to fulfill the tasks he has set before us as a nation.

Discussions - 12 Comments

I would insert "State Department" or "United Nations" in lieu of Social Security, if I were guessing which great institution GWB thinks needed reforming. Perhaps all of the above?

There are those who will hear this speach and hear not the optomistic main theme of freedom and and the advance of liberty, but will hear "I will use my power to force my view of American will on all who oppose thing". I’ve already begun to see it talked about and written about. It’s truely sad. We are at a point in history that just may be the beginning of a revolution that lead to EVERY SINGLE NATION turning to democracy and rejecting tyrany and oppresion. Hey, it could happen. Besided, to believe Bush’s opponents is to believe that the world will constantly be filled with some tyrants, and the only course is to contain and reason and understand them. I choose Bush, again.

I nearly misread your post. At first I almost thought that you were one of those people who, "will hear this speach and hear not the optomistic main theme of freedom and and the advance of liberty, but will hear ’I will use my power to force my view of American will on all who oppose thing.’" Luckily I caught myself before I got involved in a [possibly] heated, unnecessary, debate.

I too choose acting with force and might over quibbling, talking, with tyrants. For that (talking) will not solve anything. If history has taught us anything it has taught us that tyrants are tyrants for a reason. They will not listen to reason. A tyrant who listens to, and takes heed of, talk is either a miracle, or a wannabe tyrant. They will scoff at pleading (which is probably what it seems like in their eyes) and possibly use force.

Afterall, "speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." Probably most important in that quote is the latter. Talk first, not extrenuously, just enough to be positive of whether or not it will actually work. Then exert the big stick. Ahh, Roosevelt. Great man.

"The Founders’ new system of government was constructed on that idea: The good in human nature meant power could be entrusted to men but the flaws meants that power must always be restrained. To this end, the constitution dispersed power among different institutions - the president, Congress, the Supreme Court, the states - that would check and balance each other. "The American Revolution in its essence had been a struggle against unconstrained centralized power," writes Bailyn, and the American constitution was intended to prevent any such power from forming again."

Now, get a load of this...

The Founders’ humility about human nature underpinned much of what they did. In foreign policy, they had, as the Declaration of Independence stated, a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." They foresaw America taking leadership, but it would lead by example, not force of arms. As John Quincy Adams put it in later years, America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy." To do so, Adams warned, would change the American maxim "From liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit

I guess I’m just not sure how tyranny abroad affects my life here. However, a war to destroy a tyrant would significantly affect my liberty (draft, taxes, death, et cetera).

If you must cloud your mind with "high ideals", then perhaps you ought to consider the purpose of government.

Did you really form this society on this side of the ocean so that you could die on foreign soil?

Or, did you form this society to preserve your life, liberty, and property?

I learned the latter as an Ashbrook Scholar -- not sure what you guys are teaching over there these days...

I think JC and Mr. Kubiak are exactly right. I supported the removal of Saddam Hussein--still do--because I believe he was a threat to the United States. If democracy can triumph in Iraq, so much the better, but I don’t see it as the reason for war. If the president intends to use American power to spread democracy in the absence of a genuine threat to U.S. national security, then he will do so without my support.

Daniel - "I guess I’m just not sure how tyranny abroad affects my life here."

Really? That’s like saying "I’m not sure how criminals in another part of town affect my life here in my house." As long as they exist, they will affect SOMEONE, and one day (God forbid) you and yours. The fact that you may dismiss them if they don’t affect you at this moment is almost selfish, or perhaps at least thoughtless.

"However, a war to destroy a tyrant would significantly affect my liberty (draft, taxes, death, et cetera)."

True enough. But in days of old, you could at least see the Vikings as they swarmed over the hillside and you could at least run and get a sword or hide the family. Today, you might be standing at a "BigBuck’s" coffee stand and get blown up, along with mom’s and children just minding their own business. For me, I’d throw down my life, burn all my money, and sign away my good name (such that it is) to defend my family and my country from a potential beast with the want to kill my country. That’s the world today.

Mr. Moser - can you explain how Hussein was a genuine threat to the U.S.? No WMDs, no real connection with Al Qaeda, and as far as I know, no known plans to attack the U.S. have been discovered. Certainly liberal media bias can’t be blamed for the recent fact that the U.S. WMDs investigation team just wrapped up their work...and found squat.
This pre-emptive business should be seen as dangerous by anyone considering themselves conservative. In the end it gets absurd: well, we thought he/they were starting to think about formulating a plan to perhaps develop "weapons-related programs" and then maybe making them at some unspecified later date, mumble, mumble, mumble, so we invaded their country, killed thousands of civilians, and worsened pre-existing ethnic and religious tensions. So NOW we get the shoulder shrugs of "well, we had bad intelligence..." and there’s no serious accountability, and history is revised before our eyes so that the justification given for invading Iraq was to spread democracy and liberate the Iraqi people. The justifications and stories are shifted so frequently one gets dizzy trying to keep up.

WMDs or no, Saddam had repeatedly violated the peace agreement that ended the First Gulf War, including firing on U.S. aircraft. A war to uphold this agreement is no less justifiable than a war would have been to defend the Treaty of Versailles after Hitler’s government violated it.

Mr. Bramah:
No WMD’s? Than why didn’t he open his country up for inspection, as the UN Armistice required? History provides ample lessons of the unwisdom of ignoring armistice terms because they would be "too hard" or cost too much to enforce.

No connection with Al Q? That’s debatable, but he DID have many connections with other terrorist groups known to target Americans. He paid (very publicly) bounties to families of suicide bombers in Israel who killed American civilians. There is evidence linking him to the FIRST WTC bombing (remember that?). And the war is a War on TERROR, not a war on Al Quaeda.

Iraq was a festering sore left over from Desert Storm. It is to Bush’s great credit that he lanced and is draining it. He has shown himself willing to teach the one lesson the world NEEDS to learn if America is to be safe: that our national will is strong enough to apply military force. Without that credibility, no deterrent of any sort could be taken seriously and no diplomacy would be workable.

We got attacked, not just on September 11 but repeatedly since the 1970s, because our enemies were assured that ow would heed the council of the pacifists on the Left- or of people like yourself on the Right.

We tried your way. It failed. Time for something different.

Mr. Moser - it sounds as if you’re suggesting a new possible justification for the current Gulf War that I have not yet heard. Nonetheless, any U.S. planes that Saddam/Iraqi military fired at were not within many thousands of miles from U.S. borders - they were flying over Iraqi airspace. All of this might have made for mildly interesting headline-skimming for a certain percentage of Americans, but I certainly doubt that most Americans (perhaps excluding DaveP.) actually felt threatened by it. Clearly, Saddam/Iraq was not some up-and-coming superpower poised at our borders. DaveP. - the lack of WMDs and Al Qaeda connections really aren’t debatable. They’ve been pretty thoroughly debunked in our national halls of power, and those are dominated by Republicans.

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