Surely, a time for reflection for us all. A time to look at the present in the context of the past. A moment for history, placed on the record.
But right now, a time to examine the speech of President Bush which I just watched, and see if it addresses the global questions on people’s minds.
The test of a good Presidential speech at defining moments such as this, is a speech that few can argue with, shows a quality of leadership, and offends as little as possible. But a great speech will go further. It will echo for all time, in memorable, inspiring, all-embracing terms. Lincoln did it, Kennedy did it, and Churchill did it too.
How did this one match up? My opinion, of course.
2 main questions were raised before the world, and the whole world was watching knowing that it is deeply effected by the will of this president.
First, as a given, it claimed that Freedom = Democracy, and I don’t think that is true. A huge case can be made that if a society has a leader it thinks is forceful, and effective, and has the interests of its subjects at heart, then it will feel it should be left alone, and its patriots will fight to the death to preserve its independence.
Oh sure, that fits the description of a dictator such as Castro, and while there are great dangers in that political philosophy, it can be left alone, and any argument against it will be ignored by the people who believe they are benefitting from it.
However, conditioning his statement, he did say “. . .the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” Which, if you think about it, is loaded.
Here’s the other issue:
I felt it was just plain stupid, or careless maybe, to make the proclamation that America exists under one God, defined to be the Christian God.
“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.” (O.K, my cap initials, but indistinguishable in orations.)
That kind of comment will be offensive to every thinking non-Christian in the world, and they outnumber Christians by a few billion.
The damage was done, even if contradicted but not dismissed later in the speech with “That edifice of character is built in families, . . . 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.”
And anyway, even then it was denied in the sign-off with “May God bless you, and may he watch over the United States of America.” (Can we know if the “he” possessed an upper case “H”?). And then the benediction from a Christian priest, a kind of religious stamp of approval.
However, having said all that, for me as an American with Brit beginnings and many of the old country’s values, and accepting that democracy works for me given the choices available today, I will take the face of Bush who wears his feelings on it, a WYSIWYG face, and not that other kind which tells you nothing.
I feel I can trust that what I see in that countenance is what is actually happening, and, kind of, go from there, knowing that democracy will eventually save us if need be and it’s not too late.
Having lived through a lot of history myself on both sides of the Atlantic, maybe, just maybe, what Bush is doing is very timely, and I’m prepared to risk being in his corner.