Skip to main content


GOD Belongs in Presidential Inaugural Addresses

1/23/2005 - 8:00 AM PST

Advertisment

By Michael J. Gaynor
Op/Ed

Having bought a ticket, Michael Newdow thought he was entitled to have prayer barred from President Bush's second inauguration.

But Newdow failed to stop prayer there.

Secular extremism could not accomplish that.

Even United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens declined Newdow's invitation to "protect him" from prayer at the inauguration.

And today President Bush is at the National Cathedral for an interdenominational service.

Having given a stirring inaugural address reflecting his religious devotion.

Newdow must have been disappointed, but...Peggy Noonan?

A wonderful speechwriter, to be sure.

Ms. Noonan was moved to write that the inaugural address had "Way Too Much God" and to ask, "Was the president's speech a case of "mission inebriation"?

A cheap shot, considering that President Bush gave up alcoholic beverages long ago.

Ms. Noonan recently had been inconvenienced.

As she put it:

"In my hotel the night before the inauguration, all the guests were evacuated at 1:45 in the morning. There were fire alarms and flashing lights on each floor, and a public address system instructed us to take the stairs, not the elevators. Hundreds of people wound up outside in the slush, eventually gathering inside the lobby, waiting to find out what next. The staff--kindly, clucking--tried to figure out if the fire existed and, if so, where it was. Hundreds of inaugural revelers wound up observing each other.... I remembered my keys and eyeglasses but walked out without my shoes. After a while the 'all clear' came, and hundreds of us stood in line for elevators to return to our rooms."

That was unfortunate, Ms. Noonan, but don't blame God and President Bush.

Ms. Noonan conceded that "[t]he inauguration itself was beautiful to see--pomp, panoply, parades, flags and cannonades," but then groused: "whoever picked the music for the inaugural ceremony itself--modern megachurch hymns, music that sounds like what they'd use for the quiet middle section of a Pixar animated film--was . . . lame."

Hymns are good, Ms. Noonan.

And your distress with an inaugural address that was a great success is shocking, I must confess:

"The inaugural address itself was startling. It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike....the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world....seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.... To the extent our foreign policy is marked by a division that has been (crudely but serviceably) defined as a division between moralists and realists--the moralists taken with a romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields, the realists motivated by what might be called cynicism and an acknowledgment of the limits of governmental power--President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance."

According to Ms. Noonan, "some things are constant, such as human imperfection, injustice, misery and bad government," and '[t]his world is not heaven.

Not cause to accept injustice, misery and bad government, when something positive can be done, Ms. Noonan.

Ms. Noonan wrote, with apparent displeasure:

"The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. 'The Author of Liberty.' 'God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul.'"

A God blessed speech, Ms. Noonan, by a man who will not be cowed by secular extremists and people imagining shades of gray in pure white and pitch black.

Of course, Ms. Noonan understood what she heard.

"It seemed a document produced by a White House on a mission. The United States, the speech said, has put the world on notice: Good governments that are just to their people are our friends, and those that are not are, essentially, not. We know the way: democracy. The president told every nondemocratic government in the world to shape up. 'Success in our relations [with other governments] will require the decent treatment of their own people.'"

It was President Kennedy who said that on earth, God's work must truly be our own.

President Bush agrees.

And rightfully so.

But Ms. Noonan is wary:

"Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might ...

1 | 2 | 3 | 4  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
Someone may ask: How are dead people raised, and what sort of ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 56:10-12, 13-14
In God whose word I praise, in Yahweh whose word I praise, in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:4-15
With a large crowd gathering and people from every town finding ... Read More

Saint of the Day

September 20 Saint of the Day

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions
September 20: Feastday: September 20 The evangelization of Korea began ... Read More