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Assessing the Inaugural

Monday, January 24, 2005; Page A14

President Bush's speech was out of touch for a wartime inaugural address ["Bush Pledges to Spread Freedom," front page, Jan. 21].

Despite Sept. 11, 2001, Afghanistan, and the war and occupation in Iraq, he never used the words "war" or "terrorism." Six presidents before him gave wartime inaugural addresses -- Madison, Lincoln, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Nixon -- and each spoke directly about war. Mr. Bush instead repeated the word "freedom" 27 times and the word "liberty" 15 times. By avoiding any mention of the war and occupation in Iraq, Mr. Bush created a disconnect between his address and reality. He also avoided any justification for the lost lives and the sacrifices that lie ahead.

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Was it deliberate irony that the story on President Bush's inaugural address and his pledges to promote liberty was on the same page as a story about "turning America's Main Street into an avenue of checkpoints and confrontations." Perhaps a limited amount of liberty is available in the world, so in order to allow other countries to have some, we have to give up some of ours.


Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Regarding the news story "Bush Speech Not a Sign of Policy Shift, Officials Say" [front page, Jan. 22]:

The Post says that President Bush's inaugural address on global freedom "excited his neoconservative supporters," but it excited many others, too -- me, for one. I applaud, for example, his pledge that "we will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people."

Now some White House officials seem to be backtracking. But Mr. Bush is widely admired for being a man of his word. I pray he lives up to that reputation.



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