April 05, 2005
taking liberty

"Taking Liberty" by William A. Galston

George W. Bush's second inaugural address, with its sweeping rhetoric about the spread of freedom abroad and at home, sparked strong but varied reactions. Most of the president's conservative supporters ranked it with the greatest inaugural speeches, such as John F. Kennedy's 1961 call to bear any burden and pay any price in the service of human freedom and Lincoln's sermonic 1865 meditation on the inscrutable justice of God's judgment on those who deny freedom to others. The president's liberal critics were less laudatory, agreeing instead with former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan's surprising judgment that the speech fell “somewhere between dreamy and disturbing.” Whether the speech was a display of visionary statesmanship, or an exercise in hubristic overreach, is something only history can determine. But it is not too early to say that the speech was both a wakeup call to liberals—from whose vocabulary the evocative term “freedom” has been mostly absent in recent years—and a guide to the deep flaws in the modern conservative understanding of freedom.
Posted by illovich at April 05, 2005 12:39 PM
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