Bush outlines goals in inaugural speech

WASHINGTON – While generally avoiding direct policy statements, President George W. Bush made it clear he wanted the global spread of democracy to be a goal of his second administration and beyond in his inaugural address Thursday.

"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of the tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom," Bush said.

"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," he said.

However, Bush said, this is "not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."

In reference to cultural differences that may arise as other nations institute democracy he said, "America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice."

Human rights and the opportunity for free dissent, he said, would be measuring sticks by which the United States judges the level of freedom in other nations seeking successful relations.

"America's belief in human dignity will guide our policy," he said. "Yet rights must be more than the grudging concession of dictators."

Bush seemed to respond to critics in his speech one day after numbers from a New York Times/CBS News poll said 75 percent of Americans thought the president had no clear plan for getting out of Iraq.

"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," he said.

He also offered words of encouragement to those living under oppressive governments.

"The United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressor. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you," he said, after mentioning the United States would support pro-democracy movements around the globe.

The president also had words for America's allies, a month before he visits Europe.

"All the allies of the United States can know we honor your friendship, we rely on your council and we depend on your help," Bush said. "Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies."

Without mentioning specific modes of action, the president spoke of "the unfinished work of American freedom." He said, "we will expand on this vision by reforming great institutions."

The reforms will help "build an ownership society," Bush said, taking words from his days on the campaign trail.

This comes at a time when the president has indicated the desire to reform Social Security by letting workers divert part of their earnings to private accounts and reform the tax code.

After a divisive campaign — reemphasized when most of the crowd booed at Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) arrival at the inaugural ceremony — the president offered words of national unity.

"We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes, and I will strive in good faith to heal them," he said.

Grant Culp, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, flew out to Washington to attend the ceremony.

"I liked it," Culp said of the speech. "It was defiantly a Bush speech."

A little under 20 minutes into the 22-minute speech, a lone protester could be heard yelling either "boo" or "no." People surrounding him began cheering and clapping, which soon spread to the crowd, nearly cutting the president off mid-sentence.

While it seemed only one protester slipped into the ceremony, there were at least hundreds on the streets surrounding the inaugural parade. Long lines awaited the public at the 13 security checkpoints to get access to the parade route. Even those with tickets for bleacher seats lined up along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The president saw many supporters as his motorcade drove from the Capital to the White House, but the protesters were there also, carrying signs, giving the middle finger or silently turning their backs as the president passed.

"This 49 percent that didn't vote for Bush," said Tracy Sperko, a Navy veteran from Wauwatosa who drove to Washington to turn her back on Bush, "We want to be heard. We won't go away."

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Jan. 25 2005.