Bush’s Biggest Bosh – 2nd Anniv.

Following is the lead and wrap-up of a piece  I did for the February issue of Freedom Daily. The Future of Freedom Foundation will put the full text online later this year.

The Second Anniversary of Bush’s Worst Bosh
by James Bovard

Two years ago last month, Bush gave his second inaugural address. As I watched the speech on television, I and perhaps millions of other Americans struggled to answer the obvious question about the speech: Is it puerile or is it merely tripe?

Bush was hailed throughout the greater Washington metropolitan area for a speech that invoked freedom and liberty almost 50 times. The Washington Post headlined its report on the spiel, “An Ambitious President Advances His Idealism.” The Council on Foreign Relations’s Max Boot cheered that Bush “is signaling basically victory or bust … no backing down.” Liberal columnist Andrew Sullivan swooned, “Who could disagree with the stirring, elegant and somewhat sweeping address the president just gave?” Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, gushed that the speech was “powerful,” “subtle,” “historic,” “sophisticated,” “nuanced,” and “profoundly right.”

Though Bush invoked freedom ad nauseam, none of his comments referred to restrictions on U.S. government power. Instead, they sanctified the president’s right to forcibly intervene abroad wherever he believes it is necessary to “spread freedom.” Like Khrushchev banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations, Bush was shouting “We will bury you!” to anyone whom he and his cronies label an enemy of freedom….


Unfortunately, Washingtonians were not the only ones to get snowed by Bush’s rhetoric. Two days after Bush’s second inaugural, I was stuck in a middle seat of a flight from D.C. to Dallas. I wedged in between a chubby little 14-year-old boy and a tripwire-tense Air Force enlisted man.

The kid asked me, “Did you go to the inauguration Thursday?”

I smiled and said no. I asked whether he did. His eyes lit up, his face awoke, and he declared, “Yes!” He told me he was from Bush’s hometown, Midland, Texas.

“What did you think of the speech?” I asked.

“I loved every word of it!”

“So you think it is a good idea for the U.S. to be spreading freedom?”

‘Oh yes. We have to do that.”

“Are you concerned about going to war to spread freedom?” I asked nonchalantly.

The Air Force dude erupted, “Don’t listen to him! This guy hates America! This guy hates our president! Don’t listen to a single thing he says!” After his foam dried, we exchanged a few words and his hinges nearly failed him as I calmly recited a few Bush and Cheney WMD falsehoods.

Nearing landing, the boy asked a question or two about my views. My replies were fairly tame but he squinted and said warily, “You sound like you hate the government.”

I smiled. “No. I don’t hate the government. I just think its power should be limited.”

His suspicions of me remained.

“What should government be doing? What is its main purpose?” I asked.

The kid paused, struggled briefly, and then replied, “Keep people under control.”

This is the new American vision of freedom that Bush seeks to impose around the world. This type of freedom does far more to empower politicians than liberate citizens. If politicians can redefine freedom at their whim, then they can raze limits on their own power.

Just because a president’s comments are insipid does not mean they are innocuous. Americans cannot preserve their rights if they take their political reality from the person with the most to gain from subverting freedom.


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6 Responses to Bush’s Biggest Bosh – 2nd Anniv.

  1. John Lowell February 2, 2007 at 9:58 am #

    Hi Jim,

    A facinating encounter, eh?

    I’m struck with the youngster’s understanding of the need for government: To control people. Reflecting on this response, it betrays, of course, a fundamentally negative impression of the human being, one almost certainly informed by a kind of Calvinism, consciously or unconsciously. Here we have the need for a divine impulse to compel sanctity, not simply to tempt one with it. It is odd though that the outcropping of this underlying pessimism expresses itself in an authoritarian impulse. If one is suspicious enough of human beings to see the role of government solely in terms of its supervising behaviour – a kind of parentalism noticable in not a few of our Christian Zionist friends – why might it be that your antagonist would exempt the persons running government from the same criticism? 🙂

    John Lowell

  2. Jim February 2, 2007 at 10:26 am #

    And people wonder why I don’t like going to Dallas.

    Actually, I don’t know if the kid’s views were the result of Calvinism large or small. I think triumphalism may have been more of it – there was a sense (especially among the people who attended the inauguration) that Bush was rightfully ruling the world.

    I asked the kid what he read, where he got his political information. His reply indicated that he read almost nothing. I think talk radio was his primary source of info.

    He was in seventh heaven after his first visit to Washington and said he was thinking about going into politics.

    I asked if he would like to be a congressman.

    “Yes, I would like that” – I believe he said he had been thinking about.

    “Who is your congressman now?”


    Blank stare.

    The kid struggled briefly and then said that he didn’t know.

  3. John Lowell February 2, 2007 at 10:34 am #

    Jim Bovard, meet your next Congressman. 🙂

    John Lowell

  4. Jim February 2, 2007 at 10:40 am #

    What a hoot!

    And they ask me why I drink.

  5. Joe February 3, 2007 at 9:16 am #

    “The kid paused, struggled briefly, and then replied, ‘Keep people under control.'”

    That’s one LOUD “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” for Prussian government educators and their current intellectual heirs.

  6. Jim February 3, 2007 at 12:06 pm #

    The kid was sweating over a few school textbooks throughout the trip.

    He was using the magic marker seemingly to highlight every second paragraph.

    I reckon he is what they call a prodigy in Texas.