Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bush's Inauguration
Whatever your feelings on George Walker Bush himself, one cannot fail to be impressed by the tradition and ceremony of a US presidential inauguration. The traditional swearing of the oath as the clock strikes 12 noon, the viewing of the troops from Capitol Hill, the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the inauguration balls... it's a fantastic traditional American day. Granted, the 2005 version was a little less intimate than usual, swamped in security, with even the protesters stuck away in 'designated protest areas', but it loses little of its significance.

Bush's inauguration speech (transcript) was pretty much as expected, full of missionary rhetoric and plumped with references to "freedom", "liberty" and "tyranny", leaving no room for misunderstanding of his aims in his second term. Bush entenched his neocon roots with a commitment to continue to remove tyrannical governments, inferring that Iran may well be in for a few tough years. Interestingly, Bush did not mention Iraq by name once, but rather referred to it in metaphorical terms. This was perhaps a good thing, given that fact that (a) it has clearly not gone as planned and (b) the word itself has the ability to stoke up an America divided on its merits.

There were visible scuffles between protesters and police, and much jeering along the parade route, but this is to be expected in this ideological time in the US. The inaugurations are dripping in too much history and signficance to allow protesters views on Bush to detract from the sense of occassion.