January 21, 2005

More Inaugural Commentary

The divine Peggy Noonan (mmmm.....Peggy.....) thinks that Dubya's address yesterday was too messianic.

I think I'd agree with her more if this particular speech was part of a pattern of the "mission inebriation" about which she warns. But so far, it doesn't strike me that way. The folks in the White House are certainly motivated by their vision of what Good can do, but they aren't so caught up in it as to have forgotten the limitations of reality. (I mean we're not going to invade China any time soon.)

Further, I'd say that nobody as religious as Dubya would make the mistake of believing that human perfection can be achieved in this world. In fact, Christianity teaches exactly the opposite. But it also teaches us to do the best we can. I think that's what Dubya is doing.

Besides, the Inaugural is the time to pull out all the rhetorical stops. The point of the address is to set the tone, to define the broad theme of the new Administration. That theme is the advancement of freedom in the world, surely a noble and worthy cause. The details of what we actually can or can't, should or shouldn't do will be threshed out later on.

Posted by Robert at January 21, 2005 10:17 AM

The President is Methodist (because of his wife, I'm sure). Methodism started out with a very strong "social gospel" motivation (i.e., abolition, temperance, opposition to child labor, etc.), which was itself a reflection of Wesley's own views about starting to build the "Kingdom" here on Earth and not merely waiting around for it to come.

Because of this, I'm one of the few who thinks Hillary Clinton may indeed have been authentic in her "God" speech the other day. She, too, was raised in the Methodist church, and "liberals" are perfectly welcome to participate in the project.

Maybe the world isn't perfectible, but, dadgum, we'll do our best to make it so. And we've got a big tent for members to feel comfortable in. I like that aspect of the church, which is why I'm still a member despite my own personal issues with traditional Christian theology.

Posted by: JohnL at January 21, 2005 12:06 PM

You managed to put your finger on what I was feeling after reading her column last night. Well said. Or well written, I guess :)

Posted by: Ith at January 21, 2005 12:34 PM

Peggy Noonan (of whom I'm a fan too, although, er, not quite *that way*) was part of the team doing post-speech commentary on Fox, and she seemed to be struggling (unusually so) with how to articulate her reaction...and I don't think her piece this morning is quite there yet. Her instincts on most things are dead-on, so I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard to tell whether she's offering a kernel of insight in cautioning that all noble endeavors are doomed to spoilage in this mortal plain, or expressing indigestion at what seems to have struck her as its John-Winthrop-in-a-Ten-Gallon-Hat style. (I think it was a great speech, until it got to the domestic policy throw-ins at the end.)

Posted by: Chan S. at January 21, 2005 05:15 PM

Savage, who's obnoxious but at least doesn't kiss everyone's ass like Hannity, said Noonan's a country club conservative, who may have been PO cuz she didn't write the speech.

PS Does either of you go by the alias Esther Wilberforce Packard?

Posted by: jeff at January 21, 2005 11:19 PM

I'll take that as a compliment (I think). As a matter of fact, I strongly suspect that M. Packard and The Mad Sister are the same person.

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 22, 2005 09:35 AM
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