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Critical Responses to George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address
January 20, 2005

Richard E. Vatz
Towson University

George W. Bush's Inaugural was a brilliantly written, passably delivered speech.

The president linked United States' values of freedom and democracy to foreign policy and implicitly to the fear of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and attacks on the homeland.

It was a speech whose many trenchant points were reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's powerful 1961 inaugural.  President Bush said that "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.  President Kennedy memorably said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Some might say -- and some have said -- what about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and elsewhere?  The point I would make is that the president didn't say that any of his actions or the achievement of his goals  is going to happen overnight.  Note also that the president said "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling."

As with all significant inaugurals -- and this is President Bush's first significant inaugural -- the speech sets forth goals and an agenda for the United States over four years and beyond. 

This was a clear, consistent and consequential inaugural -- arguably the finest such speech since 1985.


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