President Bush stood before the Capitol yesterday, put his hand on the Good Book many of his liberal critics would like to expunge from our public life, and swore to defend the United States Constitution.
Then he delivered an eloquent speech celebrating a vision of liberty that is enshrined in our Constitution and rooted in the truths of the Bible on which he swore.
“From the day of our Founding,” Bush said, “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.”
As a conservative, he insisted that preserving liberty depends on individual character. “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,” he said. “Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.” (Bill Clinton, to be sure, could not have delivered this speech.)
A Greater Cause
Abroad, he promises he will “support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” but says that this goal is “not primarily the task of arms.”
At home, he envisions reforming entitlement programs to foster private ownership and self-reliance. “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,” he said. “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.”
And he made a stirring call for young people to be idealistic in the service of freedom and their country. “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,” he said, “but to its character.”
The President’s ambitious agenda means political battles are coming. Congressional Democrats will try to block any Supreme Court nominee who shares the President’s values, and stop any rollback of the welfare state.
What we saw on Inauguration Day was a President who has the strength of his convictions and the heart to fight back.