- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

President Bush was sworn in for his second term yesterday and used his inaugural address to lay out an unapologetically aggressive agenda that amounts to nothing less than “ending tyranny in our world.”

“America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof,” he told thousands who had gathered in the snow at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol for the nation’s 55th inauguration ceremony.

“Renewed in our strength — tested, but not weary — we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom,” he said.

Far from retrenching his policies of pre-emption and democratization, the president used his 21-minute speech to press for them as assertively as he had in his first four years, notwithstanding an overstretched military.

The speech was delivered after Mr. Bush took the 39-word oath of office dating back to George Washington from a frail-looking Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who recently was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Mr. Bush took the long view of history, invoking God, the nation’s founders, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and even the Liberty Bell, while the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln memorials stood off in the distance around the National Mall.

The president limited his speech to broad thematic terms. For example, he used forceful, ominous language to put the tyrants of the world on notice without using the words “terrorism” or “Iraq.”

“As long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny — prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder — violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat.

“There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom,” he said.

After having taken the oath of office on his family Bible, his speech made repeated references and allusions to biblical verses and lauded “the words of the Koran” in a nod to America’s Muslim population.

The ceremony was the apex of a long day of pomp that began with a 40-minute morning prayer service at St. John’s Episcopal Church and ended with late-night revelry at nine balls. After the ceremony, Mr. Bush led the 1.7-mile inaugural parade up Pennsylvania Avenue from Congress to the White House, in an armor-plated limousine with the license tag USA 1.

Many Democrats attended the swearing-in, including the man whom Mr. Bush defeated in November, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, and former President Bill Clinton, who defeated Mr. Bush’s father in 1992.

However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was among the Democrats not pleased by the prospect of another four years of the Bush presidency.

“Personally, I don’t feel much like celebrating,” she said in a fund-raising e-mail yesterday. “I’m going to mark the occasion by pledging to do everything in my power to fight the extremist Republicans’ destructive agenda.”

She added: “These Republicans don’t care about fairness or opportunity or even accountability.”

In the first presidential inauguration since the terrorist attacks of September 11, Mr. Bush argued that the security of America depends on its ability to spread freedom throughout the world.

“So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,” he said.

Although Mr. Bush did not name specific tyrants or regimes, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice listed six “outposts of tyranny” in Senate testimony on Tuesday on her nomination to be secretary of state.

They were North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Burma, Belarus and Zimbabwe. She also decried the “lack of freedom” in unnamed Middle Eastern nations.

Yesterday, the president seemed content to sketch out his foreign policy ambitions in broad moral terms. He exhorted dictators to step aside and free oppressed populations. He promised that the United States would not turn its back on those who yearn for freedom.

“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.

“The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them,” he added. “Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.”

It was not clear how the president would make good on such promises, because U.S. forces are already stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he hinted that toppling tyrants could be achieved without conventional military deployments.

“This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary,” he said. “America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.”

The president hinted that such influence might take the form of words, not deeds.

“We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right,” he said.

Mr. Bush is expected to discuss the detailed components of his agenda, both foreign and domestic, in greater detail in next month’s State of the Union speech.

Turning briefly to domestic policy, the president signaled a willingness to improve race relations during his second term.

“Our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time,” he said.

Mr. Bush also made a passing reference to his plans for a partial privatization of Social Security, simplification of the tax code, reduction of frivolous lawsuits and increased homeownership.

“In America’s ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence,” he said. “We will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time.”

By taking the oath of office, Mr. Bush became the first son of a president to begin a second term. He was joined on the dais by his father, former President George Bush and Mr. Clinton.

The younger Mr. Bush seemed to take a veiled swipe at Mr. Clinton by suggesting that he had been asleep at the switch during the period between the fall of communism and the rise of terrorism.

“After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical — and then there came a day of fire,” he said.

Also joining the president during the ceremony were first lady Laura Bush and their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. The president’s mother, Barbara, watched the proceedings with obvious pride.

Before the ceremony began, Mr. Kerry came to the railing and waved to a group of young Bush supporters below him. The Massachusetts Democrat who was vanquished by the president in November said: “We’re going to convert all these kids for the future.”

During the ceremony, Mr. Kerry stood at the front of the dais, about five rows away from the podium, smiling and greeting fellow senators and applauding several times during Mr. Bush’s speech.

Toward the end of the speech Mr. Bush was interrupted by protesters chanting, including one man repeatedly shouting “boo” from the terrace below Mr. Bush. The crowd broke into chants of “USA” as the protester and a handful of others were led away by police.

Afterward, Mr. Bush passed hundreds of additional protesters during the traditional presidential procession from the Capitol to the White House. Some waved vulgar signs branding Mr. Bush a terrorist and a war criminal.

One protester could be heard repeatedly shouting a vulgarity as CNN’s Bob Franken tried to give viewers a live report from Pennsylvania Avenue. Another protester reportedly threw an orange at a Secret Service vehicle.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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