George W. Bush’s ’05 Inaugural, the Deep Irony of Egypt and the Two-Faced Republicans


What a triumph for George W. Bush. He must be kvelling down there in Texas, right?

And oh, how the Republicans must be glowing, one and all, along with him. What a great day for them. What a validating experience it must be to watch all of the people there in Cairo, in Tahrir Square, on the verge of celebrating democracy and reclaiming their nation in the name of their history and their civilization.

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You mean, you don’t remember the immortal and stirring words of George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address?

You don’t remember when the 43rd U.S. president, having somehow managed to eke out his reelection by unimpressive margins, told the American people what the ultimate, “ennobling” goal of his foreign policy would be?

Let me remind you of some of the key passages:

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, 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. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

And let’s not forget these important words from W.:

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America’s belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

But wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute? What is this? You might radical right doesn’t want democracy in Egypt — or Jordan — or Tunisia — or — or — or, well, anywhere in the Middle East?

You think I’m politicizing what’s happening right now, even as I write this, in Tahrir Square?

All right: don’t let my words speak for others. Let’s have other people’s words — the words of those on the radical right, who told us that George W. Bush was a visionary, a great leader, a demigod — do their speaking for them.

How could we begin with anything the syntax-defying, frontal-lobe-blurring, racist-tinged triplespeak of Sarah Palin?

And then there’s the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor (who is Jewish, by the way), who is raising the specter of “radical Islam” taking over Egypt without offering proof of this likelihood beyond the usual GOP racist tropes. As if it is somehow a justification for keeping Hosni Mubarak, who most intelligent people can plainly see has essentially enslaved his 80 million people, in power.

And then there’s the gory internecine battle taking place between conspiracy-theory-minded Glenn Beck and the scion of the conservative movement, William Kristol. Which is kind of like a sequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Then again, it all fits the meme, promoted by Republicans like Rep. Steve King of Iowa, that President Obama is Muslim.

You don’t think King is a racist who would stokes fear of Islamic revolution in Egypt as a way to win votes?

Watch this:

Thanks, President Bush. Your words, delivered by 2005, haunt me to this day. Congratulations.