Blogs > Cliopatria > Bush Like Woodrow Wilson?

Jan 20, 2005 11:07 pm

Bush Like Woodrow Wilson?

Just watched President Bush deliver his second inaugural address.

Bob Dallek on NBC said it was like listening to Woodrow Wilson.

But if so, it was the Wilson who took America to war in his second term, not Wilson at his inauguraion. Wilson at that time was still keeping America out of war and not prepared to indulge in the soaring rhetoric that came to define his presidency.

If you ask me the inaugural address Bush's sounded like was FDR's in 1941.

FDR: "Democracy is not dying. We know it because we have seen it revive--and grow. We know it cannot die--because it is built on the unhampered initiative of individual men and women joined together in a common enterprise--an enterprise undertaken and carried through by the free expression of a free majority. We know it because democracy alone, of all forms of government, enlists the full force of men's enightened will."

To be sure, FDR was talking about democracy at home, thinking back to all those people who claimed the Great Depression would bring about democracy's doom--as it did in Germany and other places. But he soon enough got around to talking about democracy abroad--and wasn't that what he was really talking about after all? y 1941 he knew we could no longer avoid being drawn into the European war. With this speech he helped establish the stakes: democracy versus freedom.

The Wilson analogies are scary. If Bush follows Wilson we are all in trouble. If he folows FDR, success will crown his efforts.

Let's hope he's got FDR in mind.

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