We strongly supported the reelection of President Bush. He seems to me to have learned more from the presidency of Ronald Reagan than President Bush’s father did after serving as Reagan’s vice president for eight years. When President Bush (41) promised a kinder, gentler America and implicitly played to the liberal critique of Reagan, I had the sick feeling that, much as I admired him and his lengthy service to America, President Bush (41) had failed to learn the basic lessons of Reagan’s success.
Both as a candidate and as president, President Bush (43) has adapted Reaganism to changed circumstances, though the theme of “compassionate conservatism” (not heard for a while) also played to the liberal critique of conservatism. Isn’t conservatism by itself compassionate? In any event, we celebrate President Bush’s second inauguration today.
Its invocation by Richard Nixon in disgrace at his White House leavetaking in 1974 may have dimmed its luster for those of us old enough to remember the scene, but in relevant part the speech on citizenship given by Theodore Roosevelt (at the Sorbonne!) in 1910 retains its currency:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.