January 29, 2005


Idealism swings back in fashion (Gareth Harding, Jan. 28, 2005, UPI)

Idealism is back. After years of hard-headed pragmatism, world leaders are daring to talk about their hopes, dreams and ideals and are risking precious political capital by launching bold plans to tackle some of the most pressing problems of the day.

U.S. President George W. Bush set the tone taking his oath of office last week.

"No-one could say the inauguration speech was lacking in idealism," British Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday told political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.

They certainly could not. Bush, who is not renowned for being a wishy-washy liberal dreamer, spoke repeatedly of the importance of ideals and idealism. There was no shortage of either in his second address from the steps of the Capitol. He said governments faced a "moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right." He talked of his administration's "ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." And he pledged to support freedom fighters in their struggle for liberty, democracy and self-determination.

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors," he said. "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

It was stirring stuff -- the noblest of ideals driven by oratory of the highest order. Of course, this did not stop Bush's critics scoffing at his speech as phony, hypocritical and utopian. The speech was ambitious -- highly ambitious -- but as Blair said in Davos, it is difficult to argue now that Bush is in the grip of neo-conservative hawks in Washington. "I thought progressives were all in favor of freedom rather than tyranny," said the president's most enthusiastic cheerleader in Europe.

Blair's political discourse has always had an evangelical ring to it, but he has often been compromised by his desire to be all things to all men and women. Lately, the Labor leader seems to have run out of patience with half-measures and there is a renewed sense of outrage and urgency in his speeches about world affairs.

So now the moron has completely reshaped the way the world thinks and speaks. That's one heck of a shrub we bought.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2005 8:56 AM
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