Bush inaugurated, proclaims era of expanding freedom

By Keith Koffler, CongressDaily

President Bush was sworn in Thursday for a second four-year term, proclaiming an era of expanding freedom at home and abroad.

In an address shaped by the notion that it is the moral and national security imperative of the United States to aid a gathering worldwide march toward liberty, Bush set out the rationale for his domestic agenda, though he spent little time describing it.

The president asserted that for the United States to be safe, the hands of tyrants abroad must be stayed. "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," Bush said. "America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one."

The president said the government will make it clear to other countries that "success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people" with a vision of "the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

While saying this would not "primarily" be achieved by military means, the president affirmed that "we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."

The United States, Bush said, must serve as a beacon for other nations in their quest for freedom. "In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty," he said, asserting that the "ideal of freedom" in this country includes the "dignity and security of economic dependence."

Making citizens the masters of their destinies will provide "freedom from want and fear," he said. "To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society."

The president said personal character must play a role in supporting his ideal of freedom in the United States. "Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self," he said, calling for commitment to "service and mercy."

Bush also spoke of the divisions that have rent the country, and promised to do his best to heal them. But he asserted, "those divisions do not define America," harkening to the "unity and fellowship of our nation" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bush expressed confidence in the "eventual triumph of freedom," calling it "the permanent hope of mankind."