NRO’s Corner serves up Senator Corzine’s critique of President Bush’s second inaugural address. Here is how I imagine Corzine, or perhaps John Kerry, would have responded to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address:
We join the president in seeking charity for all. Charity is a fundamental American value, and we look forward to working with the president in handing it out. The president failed, however, to present the details of his charitable program.
Indeed, his speech was an exercise in evasion. The president opened his remarks by seizing upon the alleged “progress of our arms” as an excuse for an abbreviated address in which he declined to discuss the crucial issues to which Americans demand answers — the repeated failure of our military for the first several years of the war, the suspension of our constitutional rights, and the balance of trade deficit. Most importantly, even assuming that we win the war, the president failed to explain how we will win the peace. “Malice towards none [and] charity for all” is a nice slogan. But it is not an exit strategy. Nor did the president say how long our troops will remain in the South, how many of them will make the ultimate sacrifice, and what it will cost.
The president’s speech was also an exercise in deception. He claimed to have done everything in his power to avoid war. His failure to use the Europeans as mediators, or even to consult with them, went unmentioned. Americans also will be saddened to learn of the president’s denigration of the attempts by the South at pre-war negotiations. In his eagerness to slay dragons, this president has plainly failed the global test.
The president harped on the “colored slaves.” He claimed that “this interest was somehow the cause of the war.” But the president well knows that ending slavery was never part of the original justification for fighting this war. It is simply an after-the-fact rationalization, developed after it became clear that we had no plan to defeat the South. Nor can the president honestly claim that the slaves are better off in their current, parlous state than they were prior to the war when they lived in peace and tranquility.
The American people will also be disappointed by the president’s unwillingness to admit his mistakes. The closest he came was when he acknowledged that “neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained.” It is unfortunate that the president deflected attention from his own errors by attributing them to the South as well.
Most disturbing of all was the president’s constant invocation of God. The Democrats worship God just as much as the Republicans do. I myself was a choir boy. But religion is a private matter, and thus not a fit subject for an inaugural address. Americans will be particularly shocked by the president’s attempts to ascribe the suffering brought about by his administration’s recklessness and incompetence to “God’s will.” The president may shrug his shoulders and call it “the judgment of the Lord” that “all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil be sunk.” We Democrats see this for what it is — the outsourcing of responsibility for our economic well-being.