Now, folks, I know if you watched any media coverage. If you watched CNN, if you watched ABC, CBS, NBC, you’re fit to be tied. If you’ve been watching them this morning, if you watched them last night, you’re fit to be tied. I understand that. So am I. We’ll talk about them later. I don’t want to soil this occasion right now with starting out with the repetition and analysis of some of the commentary that preceded and accompanied the president’s <a target=new href=”http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050120-1.html”>inaugural address</a>. I have to tell you for myself, I got chills listening to this speech. I received the text of the speech about two-thirds of the way through it. It was embargoed until delivery, and I didn’t get my copy of it till it was two-thirds over, but the message in this speech is freedom and God, our founding and our destiny. And this whole day, this whole ceremony was just replete with the recognition of what is enshrined in our founding documents, and that is the source of our freedom, God — and no excuses were made, no attempts to massage it, cover it up, tone it down, if you will. It was just blatant. It was just there.
This entire ceremony was an embodiment of the character and the person and the beliefs of George W. Bush, and he put it out there for one and all, not only in this country, but for the whole world to see — and America loved it. Earlier today on CNN, I don’t know who it was that said it, but a typical comment was this: “For 48% of the country, it is a day of terrible sadness.” That was in the commentary prior to the president’s remarks today. What an attitude to have. What a spoilsport, pessimistic, doom-and-gloom attitude to have, and that’s just one small representative comment that came from the naysayers and from the spoilsports and the people whose noses are still out of joint, and when they heard the theme of this whole ceremony, when they heard the president’s remarks, the benediction by Reverend Kirbyjon Caldwell, when he specifically asked that God gather up Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, my first thought was, well, God may try to gather ’em up, but will the Democrats and Independents go? You know, will they be interested in following God, or are they going to be so fuming are rage over so many mentions of God in this ceremony. “What happened to separation of church and state!” This is the kind of thing that will just scare them. It will intimidate them as much as anything has, up to now.
As far as this “48% of the country feeling terrible sadness today,” I would say that is a statistic that’s born only of election results and has no relevance to what is happening today. Sure, there may be some people sad out there, may be some people upset, some of you might have been among that group back in 1993 and 1997 when Bill Clinton was inaugurated twice. But even on those occasions, we didn’t hate the country, we weren’t upset at the country, weren’t angry at the country. We were just disappointed that our side had lost. That’s not what can be said about this group today, and I doubt that 48% is an accurate number. I think the vast number of Americans are proud and very happy today, and you know, given the contents of this speech, as I say, it was a history lesson. I think it was a great, great history lesson, and in the midst of all this, in the midst of this laying down of history in front of all Americans and citizens of the world, freedom and God, our founding and our destiny, the pettiness and the anger on the left grows even larger. They get more distant and distant from the mainstream of the country. You can just imagine what their reaction to all of this was.
Let me share with you this from the Boston Globe today: “Bush Hews to Bold Style for 2d Term.” Now, listen to the way this thing opens up. It’s by Peter Canellos. “George W. Bush will begin his second term as president as he did his first: by surprising official Washington with an ambitious and audacious agenda that includes such deeply divisive issues as Social Security, immigration, restricting jury awards, and a controversial education program. The president had campaigned on those issues, but many political observers felt the closeness of the election–” It wasn’t close! “–the limited time available to a second-term president to enact his program, and the pressures of foreign policy would combine to force him to trim his sails.” What political observers? The usual suspects? The people that haven’t come up with an original thought in 20 years? What is surprising? There’s nothing surprising about George W. Bush. He does what he says. He lays out what he’s going to do. It’s what he did in his first campaign, and he did it, and they got mad at him because they didn’t think he had a mandate. Now he’s got a big mandate but they’re using polling data to say, “No, he doesn’t have a mandate. He’s bitten off too much here.”
Now he’s “surprising official Washington with his ambitious and audacious agenda.” He campaigned on those issues, and he’s actually going to do it, and this is a surprise to official Washington? How can something that has been consistent for four years add up to a surprise? Only in the media and official Washington, where I’ll tell you why it’s a surprise: Bush is not listening to them. They’re telling Bush, “Don’t do this! Don’t do Social Security! Don’t do these judges! Don’t oppose these filibusters that the Democrats do on the judges! Don’t do anything with immigration. You better not cut taxes anymore,” and Bush is basically going (raspberry) on you, and he’s going to do what he wants to do, and that’s what’s surprising to them, that he isn’t listening to them. To them, this is all a trick. It’s a tactic. It’s nothing more than a political tactic, and it’s not in the playbook of presidential political tactics. Presidents are not supposed to do what they campaign on; that’s just what they do to get elected, but once they get elected they compromise, they reach out to the opposing party, the Democrats, and let the Democrats run the show. But Bush is not letting the Democrats run the show — and of course this upsets the Democrats and the press, and so they say this is audacious and is too ambitious and is too overreaching and he’s got hubris, all because he’s not letting the Democrats run the show and all because he’s not listening to the mainstream press.
Then he mentioned God. God was rampantly mentioned throughout this inaugural ceremony. The closing, the benediction by Kirbyjon Caldwell, one of the finest prayers I have ever heard, delivered by a black minister. The Democrats had to be doing a double do-si-do when they saw this. Many of the performers in this ceremony were black. What you had up there today was the embodiment of the inclusiveness and the diversity, if I may use the left’s favorite word, of this administration that they continually seek to deny. It was just fabulous, folks. I’ll tell you something else. As for the speech, it was eloquent, but you know what struck me about the speech? I loved this. I love philosophical ambitiousness. Yeah, there were some specifics in this speech, but this was broad. This was philosophical ambition. This was a definition of America. This was an affirmation of our founding and our destiny, and it was done so with great philosophical ambition that goes hand in hand with what our destiny is. Laid out the president’s governing views and the philosophical underpinnings that guide them, and it was 2,000 words. It was a relatively short speech. But philosophical ambitious nature of this speech, governing views with philosophical underpinnings I just loved. I think another thing worth noting about the speech is the extent to which the president has seized the mantel of idealism.
There was idealism in this speech, the notion that everybody can be free, the notion that we all can experience a better day tomorrow than the day we had today. (interruption) That is not hubris, Mr. Snerdley. Don’t give me that. That’s not hubris. It may be hubris to them, because the left — you could argue that the left used to have a philosophical base that was based on idealism: No suffering, no pain, all of this. It was never realistic but at least they were idealists. They were almost Utopian idealists, which was their problem. But what the president did today was make the case for spreading human liberty, defending human dignity, which were once largely the preserve of liberalism. If you go back and look at FDR’s speeches and look at the number of times he mentioned God in his inaugurals. Go back to JFK. “We will fight any foe. We’ll go anywhere. We will we’ll do whatever it takes to spread freedom and liberty.” Hey, he couldn’t be a liberal Democrat today. JFK couldn’t be. Truman couldn’t be. They were committed to the triumph of liberty in the world, and that’s what this speech was about today, the triumph of freedom and liberty in the world — and it is now conservatism that is propelling this. Conservatism is no longer the reactionary or defensive movement in the country that is reacting to what liberals are doing. The liberals have become the reactionaries, conservatism is now leading both specifically and philosophically, and so what you have here is a president who laid out a speech today with the full intent of shaping history, not just getting through the next four years, not just coming up with a great approval rating at the end of it all, and not just making sure everybody likes him. This president is intent on shaping history, not impeding it, and this speech embodied all of that today, at least as I heard it.
Mr. Snerdley just asked me a question, I want to repeat my brilliant answer to his question. He said, “All right, I don’t like this talk of idealism and conservatism. I don’t think conservatism — the left is going to think idealism means nation building in the context of Bush’s speech today.” and I said, well, let me tackle that for you, Mr. Snerdley. Idealism is, as expressed by Bush today, is nothing more than recognizing our founding, and recognizing the source of our freedom, and realizing that it is the natural yearning of every human being on the planet to be free. It’s how we are created. It’s not something granted by governments or one group of people to another or one individual to another. No individual can make you free. You’re born this way. It is human beings that deny it, that can bottle it up, that can oppress freedom. Nation building, to my mind, is not what’s going on in Iraq. Nation building is when a country has hubris and attempts to impose what it thinks is best for somebody else on it, which is what liberals do. All of liberals’ treatment of the American people is: You’re too stupid to know what’s good for you so we’re going to set life up for you so you’ll have the best chance of never being hurt, sad, disappointed, unhappy or whatever. It’s all a bunch of mishmash. That’s what nation building is.
What’s going on in Iraq is not nation building. What we are doing in Iraq is simply — and the president said this specifically in his speech today — we are simply allowing them to determine their own density by removing an oppressor and a dictator from their midst. The theory is — and if you believe in God, if you believe in the Founding Documents, if you believe in the source of our freedom as individuals is from God, then what you also must believe is that if you free a people and allow them to determine their own destiny, their freedom will prevail and they will not recreate and vote for another dictator. They will not vote to put themselves back in rape rooms. They will not vote to put themselves back in jails. They will not vote to once again have themselves with wings and arms and hands and fingers cut off, that they will vote freedom — and this is going to be played out on January 30th. That’s what this is all about; it’s a great vision, and it’s based on this solemn belief that we are all created equal as our founding documents say. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, inalienable rights, they are part of our creation. They’re not part of our government. We’re no better human beings than anybody else. We just are lucky in the Founders that we had. So others haven’t been so lucky. We’re simply trying to share what we’ve learned and what we know with other people and let them decide for themselves.