Skip to comments.Full text of (President!) Bush's inaugural address
Posted on 01/20/2005 9:21:56 AM PST by Diddle E. Squat
Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:
On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.
At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:
From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.
All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.
America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.
In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.
My wife said that ABC this morning was positively dour! They were so unhappy and angry that she turned it to Fox---and for some reason she likes ABC's morning show (never understood it).
Ummm, I've yet to see you post anything sensible, let alone anything that would upset a "sensibility."
And welcome to Free Republic.
bump for later
I hope you are right, but History shows that governments VERY rarely let go of our hard earned tax dollars. It is rarer still to see government parasites (opps, employees) let go. I pray you are correct, but I feel Bush is going against very strong forces within our government. The very weak Rep leadership in Congress will be of little benefit. 95% of Congress doesn't have anywhere near the belief in Liberty as does Bush. I told my nephew 10yr ago that you hardly hear Presidents use the term Liberty. He is excited every time he hears Bush mention it. I pray to God Almighty that Bush can succeed in reducing government in our lives.
As William Wallace said, Liberty is the best of all things!
It will go down as one of the great inaugural speechs because it is entirely focused on a universal ideal and exhorts all to aspire to achieving it. Further it does something that no other speech by an American president has ever done (that I know of) by stating clearly that the American Revolution is humanity's revolution and not just America's and that America is prepared to act on this premise. All through the cold war I was troubled by our backing of any regime no matter how reprehensible if it professed to be anti-Communist. It always seemed to me that the issue was freedom and not just Communism. President Bush has now stated flatly that the world's conflicts are about freedom and that America stands squarely with any people who aspire to be free. If Americans take this seriously and act on it (as President Bush as acted on it in his first term) it has the potential to be huge. Freedom is the key to fighting poverty, disease, ignorance and the suffering imposed by humans upon one another.
Mondo magnanimity, unrealistic and a great weakness, too bad . . . the angel in the whirlwind now stirs.
I share your dim view of Islam as currently practiced, but can you not give the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Bush? He is on a mission to reform Islam into something compatible with modern life and human liberty. He has said as much, many times before.
The only other option, if we wish civilization to survive, is a new Crusade for the destruction of Islam by force. I don't blame the President for seeking honorable alternatives before taking that step.
The Iranian students are going to cheer this line!
Statements like this uplift the morale of the world's dissidents in a very real way. They people hear them and are affected by them. An imprisoned Soviet dissident wrote that when Reagan called the USSR the Evil Empire, word of it spread like wildfire as the prisoners tapped the news through the walls. They loved it.
In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights.
This line bugs me a little. It agrees with an expanded definition of freedom that includes freedom from want, which is a socialist definition. This is a slippery slope. On the other hand, we've been on this slippery slope since the New Deal, so Bush is really just recognizing the definition that most modern Americans agree with. Hopefully Bush's privatizing and ownership initiatives will help reverse this.
The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
I can just hear Europe (and the Democrats) hissing at this line. "Why must he always be so blunt?" etc. When the usual suspects hiss, it's a good thing.
Overall a good speech. I love Dubya's emphasis on freedom. I like knowing that he understands what makes America exceptional and great, and that he agrees with it.
Anyone notice that there was a lot of Sharansky in that speech! Good!
Congratulations on the good state of your mental health.
Except, perhaps, your compilsive need to defend your "children"?
Aw, FCOL. That is what the "if" is for, you putz!
publius has obviously run out of Hydrogen!!!
Lockstep is mandatory here.
I can love my president and criticize his errors. They are not mutually exclusive.
one always slips through...
They people = They
I love this line! Go signal Iran, Cuba, Chinese. Stand up, already!
No it is not.
The only alternatives are not treating them as (undeserved) equals, or wearing Crusader garb.
Quiet, diplomatic silence, is an eloquent alternative.
On the contrary: I would not be happy with a president who allowed himself to be manipulated by hotheads into insulting all members of one of the largest, fastest growing religions on the planet. I don't like Islam ("Submission") anymore than you do -- I think Islam is the antithesis of freedom and love. It wouldn't surprise me if Dubya thought so too. But it would be stupid and amateurish for him to say so to the world.
I thought the speech remarkable and monumental because Dubya threw down the guantlet to the rest of the world, declaring that in this new millenium, America will strive to make the enslaved, free. Instead of attacking and offending people on the basis of their religion -- as you would have him do, and which would be monumentally stupid -- Dubya spoke in terms of freedom and slavery. It was wise of Dubya: Morally, there is zero concern about offending those who advocate slavery.
The key LIBERTY issue of the 21st century will be defeating the tort lawyers/trial lawyers, who are the single biggest force in growing government right now. I think there is a way to do this, but I can't find a genius lawyer to try my strategy.
Define "compilsive." Don't understand.
I can love my president and criticize his errors too, and I can love you and criticize yours, which are, right now, greater than his.
I too have a muslim Uncle. He is not normal at all, an extremely odd sense of humor that passes many by (a freak in the best sense of the word), he's quite liberal and also very American. While I realise to most here he is unwelcome solely on the basis of his politics and/or religion. But you know what he is a really great kooky guy and I love him very much and last time I checked you can practice whatever religion you like in this country and I wouldn't want to live anywhere where that was not the case.
Nope, nor are the Shiite Iraqis down the road from me who cheered when Saddam was overthrown and displayed Bush/Cheney posters on their lawn, and whom are working to help the new government of Iraq establish itself.
If that is the only alternative that comes to mind, "unremarkable" does not begin to describe it.
This speech will go down in History. I hope we can achieve its goals. To change the world is a big job, and impossible if the democrats fight us. It is only possible through unity.
I think Bush is adopting the right mix of respecting Islam as a viable (and important) world religion while at the same time making it as plain as day that he doesn't subscribe to any of it.
To make the creation of straw men seem intellectual?
You know, I always wondered where the word "putz" came from...
I liked the Day of Fire reference!
What is your alternative? What would you have Dubya do? Are you of the opinion that by omitting mention of the Koran entirely, it wouldn't be noticed or interpreted as a deliberate insult by Muslims? Again, what is YOUR alternative? And what do you think it would accomplish?
Yep. He needs to just ignore these a-holes.
Not that it matters, but I have absolutely no problem with that. I have never had a need to feel that I am always right.
And if I may make the observation, spoken like a dedicated absolutist.
I'll comment specifically later when I've the time, but this speech is historic.
Well Done Mr. President.
I'd take him a bit more seriously on this if he did not appoint a gun-grabber to the AG post.
"compilsive" is a typo which most normal people would subconsciously "correct" upon the reading.
Among my many character flaws is the avoidance of spell check. I enjoy the challenge. I beg your indulgence.
In case it still befuddles you, the correct spelling is "compulsive". The "u" and the "i" are adjscent keys on our standard keyboard.
Please don't ask me to define "adjscent"!
It has always been the way with we Americans. The Declaration of Independence, the USC.
After getting derailed by the Cold War, I, for one, am happy to see the US foreign policy based on our most cherished gift: FREEDOM!
Which words would those be?
See the last line of my post # 71...
Gratuitous kowtowing to primitive savages (as a group, not as individuals) is a poor choice.
With total deference and respect to individual "uncles", clearly, exceptions.
The lawyer "class" is truly a parasitic bunch of scum. Every day there must be a 1000 commercials by lawyers drumming up business over Vioxx and other drugs. I am sure drug prices will rise. The parasite lawyer class is obsessed with "stealing" as much wealth as possibl. They truly are without scrupples. I don't know what your idea is, but please tell us!! They need to be defeated along with the terrorists. Trial lawyers are truly the most arrogrant people you can run into. Damn them all.
Looks like he forgot Poland.
Thank you Jimmy Carter for that valuable contribution. Not.
Visionary, Lincolnesqe, hard for simple minded black hearted partisans to understand. A historical speech, and measureably so. I loved it.