Saturday, January 22, 2005

Buckley confused

In "What is Bush Saying?," William Buckley writes that the language of the inaugural address was confusing. He cites an example:

The president seemed to be saying that unless liberty survives elsewhere, our own is vulnerable.
No "seemed" about it, Mr. Buckley. The president's works were direct and clear; here is what he 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.
A closer reading of Buckley's column, however, reveals that his critique was less of his perceived "confusion in [the president's] language" and more a discomfort with some of the president's thoughts. Expanding worldwide freedom in the cause of US self interest seems to be beyond the scope of what Mr. Buckley thinks is achievable.

Buckley cites three examples of unfree countries: the Central African Republic, China and Saudi Arabia. The Central African Republic is, per Buckley, too exiguous [Go ahead, click on the link to get the definition; I had to when I read Buckley's piece. I'll still be here when you get back.] to worry about. And freedom in China and Saudi Arabia is, per Buckley, too ambitious a project, or at least a project which Bush neglected to support with specific policy proposals.

But inaugural addresses are not the place for specific policy proposals. I wonder if Buckley would quibble with these inaugural words:
We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately—but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes—but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle.
I've scoured FDR's address but found no comprehensive outline of the policy proposals which will lead the nation to perfection.