Monday, January 24, 2005

Is It Wrong to Reach for the Stars?

George W. Bush certainly seems to have touched a nerve with his second Inaugural speech. I've previously commented on William F. Buckley's criticisms. Buckley is not the only conservative to take issue with Bush's bold stance: Peggy Noonan and George Will have also put their objections on the record. On the left, unsatisfied customers include E. J. Dionne, Jr., and Thomas Oliphant.

The reasons these gents and ladies give for their carping include:
  1. Freedom is not a doctrine (Richard Haass);
  2. Our deeds don't match our words;
  3. God was mentioned too often (surprisingly, Peggy Noonan brought this criticism);
  4. We couldn't possibly achieve this ambitious of an agenda; and
  5. Bush is attacking straw men.

Starting with that last first: Will argues, and Dionne concurs, that no one is denying the universal appeal of freedom but rather, that some places just aren't well equipped for it, and don't have the right institutions in place, blah blah blah. How patronizing - we figured it out here, they'll manage there. The transition often won't be pretty, but what nation claims perfection?

As for the argument that our deeds don't match our words, and we couldn't achieve all this anyway, and what about Saudi Arabia and China and Pakistan, well - what would you have us do? Isn't the idea of a goal to have something to shoot for? If you can't reach the goal completely, does that impact its worthiness?

I found Bush's speech to be wonderfully appropriate to the spirit of this nation - as I've stated many times, I'm an unapologetic believer in American exceptionalism and I think we should indeed have the goal of encouraging the end of tyranny, globally. We can't control the actions of other nations, nor should we, but we can use our economic and military might to give some very tempting incentives to do the right thing (and yes, I do think that should apply to Pakistan, China, and Saudi Arabia - we need to take stronger stands with all three countries. I'm not talking war, I'm talking tough diplomacy).

This is a political blog, not a religious one, but I think the following sums up the matter most eloquently:
...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 3:13-14 (King James Version)

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