03/15/2006 04:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bush's Second Inaugural: That Ship Has Sailed

Remember Bush's Second Inaugural Address? The one where he vowed to radically transform U.S. foreign policy, making human rights our number one priority?

The one where he said that our relations with "every ruler and every nation" will be based on whether they're marching with us in history's "visible direction, set by liberty and the author of liberty?"

The one that represented a huge break from Bush's own policy of cooperating with any repressive government who merely helped us fight the 'evildoers'?


I wondered how that speech stood up in the wake of Bush's support for the Dubai port deal. After all, Dubai ain't no democracy. It's ruled by people whom the founding fathers would definitely call "tyrants." Namely, unelected, hereditary kings. And they rule it with an iron fist. Prime targets, one would think, for a little visit by the "author of liberty."

So I thought I'd compare Bush's second inaugural with his comments on Dubai.

Here's a side-by-side:

BUSH SECOND INAUGURAL: We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.

BUSH ON DUBAI: I want those who are questioning [the Dubai port deal] to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company.

BUSH SECOND INAUGURAL: 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.

BUSH ON DUBAI: Dubai services more of our military ships than any country in the world.

BUSH SECOND INAUGURAL: America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof.

BUSH ON DUBAI: [Dubai] is a country that's an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through.

BUSH'S SECOND INAUGURAL: 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.

BUSH ON DUBAI: They're sharing intelligence so we can hunt down the terrorists. They helped us shut down a worldwide proliferation network run by A.Q. Khan.

Hmmm. So I guess when it comes to all the heat and Lincolnian light of the Second Inaugural, that ship has sailed.

Or maybe it sank in port.