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January 23, 2005

White House Walks Back Bush's Soaring Inaugural Rhetoric

Instapundit says this is "not good." I don't know-- I think it's an acknowledgement of reality.

This follows, of course, Bush's dad, ever the realist, also undercutting the more emphatic thrusts of the speech.\

William F. Buckley has his doubts, too:

Okay. Never mind the tyrannies in spotty little states in Africa. Those cases are so hard as to make very bad law. A foreign policy that insists on the hygiene of the Central African Republic may be asking too much.

But what about China? Is it U.S. policy to importune Chinese dissidents “to start on this journey of progress and justice”? How will we manifest our readiness to “walk at [their] side”?

China, so massive, is maybe too massive a challenge for our liberationist policy, even as the Central African Republic is too exiguous. Then what about Saudi Arabia? Here is a country embedded in oppression. Does President Bush really intend to make a point of this? Where? At the U.N.? At the Organization of African Unity? Will we refuse to buy Saudi oil?

The sentiments of President Bush are fine, and his sincerity was transparent. But in speaking about bringing liberty to the rest of the world, he could have gone at it more platonically: but this would have required him to corral his enthusiasm for liberty everywhere with appropriately moderate rhetoric.

This he seemed resolute in not doing. But the confusion in language in the speech itself leaves some listeners wondering whether last-minute thoughts were had, which failed to iron out the policy statements, even as they had failed to iron out the language.

I think many appreciate the sentiments of the speech -- as do I. But where we depart, I think, is over the questions of What does this all actually mean?

And I don't think we're going to begin confronting China and Russia anytime soon. So what does the speech mean?


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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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