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George Bush Delivers Messianic Speech, Threatens to Use Freedom as a Club, O'Reilly & Snow Call Protesters "Street People" and a "Minor Footnote"

Reported by Marie Therese - January 23, 2005

Those magical thinkers - Bill O'Reilly and his guests, political consultant and author Dick Morris and FOX News radio host Tony Snow - managed to convince themselves that President Bush's Inaugural Speech was something "mystical," transcendent and brilliant.

Since subsequent reaction to the speech around the world and here at home has run the gamut from neutral to negative, it seems that President Bush NEEDS star-struck defenders like O'Reilly, Morris and Snow. Realists (Republicans Bay Buchanan and Peggy Noonan, the European papers, including the British and, of course, the Middle Eastern media) were justifiably concerned about the fervent, messianic quality of the inaugural address, which focused almost entirely on foreign policy and had very little to say about the domestic agenda.

However, even a partisan mouthpiece like Dick Morris tells the truth every now and then. In the course of a double segment on the O'Reilly Factor on Inauguration Day (1/20/05) Morris made the very interesting admission that the Republicans use "freedom as a tool, as a political weapon." Of course, the indomitable Mr. O was overtalking him at the time which meant the message was difficult to retrieve from my videotape and probably was not picked up by most FOX viewers. It was refreshing - amid all the blather about the greatness of the Bush doctrine - to hear the truth, i.e., that the GOP throws the word "freedom" around as if it were a football!

In a later segment Tony Snow, the polished "iceman" of the FOX lineup, expanded on this concept noting that "freedom" is the new unifying theme for the next four years. Snow said: "I think this is George W. Bush repositioning the United States in the world and repositioning the Republican party. This is a manifesto for a party that says ‘OK, you guys need an organizing idea. Here it is. It's freedom. It's freedom from a series of government programs that have not worked for a very long time and have placed Americans in shackles and it is freedom from oppression abroad.' ... So, I think it was much more than trying to explain Iraq. I think it was really trying to explain what is really an audacious, ambitious, idealistic program of trying to advocate liberty around the globe and, frankly, dramatically reshape American government here at home." Later both he and O'Reilly agreed that Bush's future rises and falls on one event: The Iraq war.

It seems to me that Bush, realizing that he is standing in a rising tide of cow dung in Iraq, threw caution to the wind, ignored common political wisdom and, instead of offering olive branches and the hand of diplomacy to the rest of the world, planted his feet in the stinky brown goo, wrapped himself in the raiment of righteousness and holds fast to his outmoded policies. In the meantime he is sinking inexorably deeper and deeper into a murky, odoriferous quagmire. In simpler words, he's drowning in s**t and won't admit it!

I personally don't like the idea of my country being dragged under with him. Unless the Democrats find their collective spinal column and take a consistent "in your face" stand against the Republican noise machine, I fear that the future of the checks and balances system may be in danger. It is clear that the GOP visualizes an endless succession of conservative administrations as far as the eye can see.

Right now, the Democrats are like Rocky Balboa - they've got to train hard, stay true to their core beliefs and, most importantly, be willing to stand up and fight. No more doormat liberals! No more go-along-get-along (GAGA) Democrats.

As for those few rich Democratic financiers who recently threatened to take their money and go home unless the Party selects centrist-right Ted Roemer as DNC Chair. I say - good riddance! You're not the only fish in the sea! The Democrats have actually got money in the coffers for a change. It's time for them to come out swinging and tell the centrist-righties they can come along for the ride or sit on the sidelines and count their money!

As for the counter-inaugural protesters, O'Reilly referred to them as "street people" and Snow made a point of belittling their numbers, calling them a "minor footnote" to the day's festivities. At one point O'Reilly aired a clip of a female protester being hosed with gas because she threw something over the fence. What an image! A lot of faceless bootjacks spraying gas in the face of a nicely dressed woman who could have been my sister, cousin, co-worker or friend. Way to go, Mr. President!


O'Reilly: The speech was primarily concerned with justifying his action in Iraq. He spent about three-fourths of the speech talking about that in varying ways. He didn't mention the word "Iraq" once, but it was about that, wasn't it?

MORRIS: I think his speech was to articulate the doctrine within which the Iraq War falls. But, I have to tell ya', Bill, that was the greatest inaugural address since John F. Kennedy's...

O'Reilly: Really?

MORRIS: ..and one of the 5 or 6 greatest of all time. It was beautiful. It was poetic. Those of you who didn't see it missed a lot. "No one is fit to be a master and no one deserves to be a slave." "The liberty in our country is not secure until the liberty in every country is secure." And it articulated a bold, new doctrine for American policy. It was a very substantive speech.

O'Reilly: OK. Let's - we have a couple of clips that I do want to run here. The first one is the one you just mentioned and this was a cornerstone of his speech about liberties.

VIDEO CLIP OF GEORGE BUSH at inaugural podium: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." (End clip.)

O'Reilly: OK. But, tomorrow - you see - your opinion is this is a tremendous speech. It's not gonna be reported that way in the elite media.

MORRIS: No. Because the elite media's liberal and they don't understand the importance of freedom ...


O'Reilly: But they're gonna say ...

MORRIS: ... as a tool ....

O'Reilly: Alright.

MORRIS: ...as a political weapon.


O'Reilly: Words are fine but the United States can't go into all these places and impose liberty.

MORRIS: No. No more than in 1961 we would have obliterated Communism in a year when Kennedy set that as the task. The point is that what Bush is saying is a tremendous departure from previous American policy. In the past we've wanted to eliminate Communism. We've wanted global stability. We've wanted world peace. We've wanted arms control. Now, what we're saying is we want freedom, that we want every government in the world to be run according to the will of the people that are governed.

O'Reilly: Do we have the right to do that?

MORRIS (continues without answering question): And that, that our own protection requires it because there's one fundamental truth - no democracy ever starts a war. And look at the mess we have over the justified wars we're fighting now. No democracy would ever start a war of aggression. And, as far as I'm concerned, this is the core meaning - ya' know, I've been working in the Ukraine for this guy who was poisoned and, if there's one rationale for some of the foreign work I do, I try to make it the defense of freedom. I really believe that the United States being firmly committed to the goal of enhancing freedom throughout the world - that doesn't mean we stop trading with China immediately. It doesn't mean we break off - we invade Iraq - Iran - tomorrow.

O'Reilly (tries to interject): Yeah. There are varying strategies to get ...

MORRIS (continues without stopping): But it does mean that we stand up in the Ukraine like we did. It does mean we take action in Afghanistan and the iraq elections like we're doing, and, if you want proof of how effective that is, look at Palestine. Ever since the - Abbas got elected and the elections were held, the terrorists can't get the right time of day from those people...

O'Reilly (trying to cut in): Well, OK. Now ...

MORRIS: ... because the mass of citizens will not countenance terror.

O'Reilly (overtalks last 4 words): You're, you're bringing into the table a big macro view of the world and the protesters today in D.C. and a lot of other Americans, they're not so convinced we can succeed in the noble goal and Bush did address that in this clip.

VIDEOCLIP OF GEORGE BUSH at inaugural podium: "From all of you I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon." (End clip.)

O'Reilly: So you know he's just asking for people to be patient, which I think is a legitimate request.

MORRIS: Right. And also - you listen. I'll bet the Iraqi election turnout beats our election turnout.

O'Reilly: Well, we'll see.

MORRIS: I think more people at risk of their lives vote there than disturbed their sleep to vote here.

O'Reilly: But, if we're sittin' here at this time next year and we're still havin' 25 people a day bein' blown up in Iraq ...

MORRIS: Yeah. We're not gonna put up with that, and I don't think that that's gonna happen. I think that the basic thrust that he's making, the basic point he's making, which is that, when you unleash popular control of a country, you unleash forces for peace and stability that a dictator can't counter, I think, is brilliant. And then when he said America knows that the political dissidents today are the leaders of tomorrow and that the leaders who govern by coercion today are basically the war criminals of tomorrow - he didn't use that phrase - but, in effect, that was brilliant, that sends a message throughout the world that is just incredible.

O'Reilly: Alright. When we come back - we're gonna take a break - we'll run a couple more clips. But I want to get to you - I know this is gonna happen. Now he's gonna be sniped. I agree with you. It was a very, very good theoretical speech. But the liberal press, it's gonna kill him tomorrow. You know it.

MORRIS: They're liberal.

O'Reilly: But, I want to find out. It's gotta be more than that. They don't understand liberty. It's gotta be more than that. So, we'll talk about it when we come back. It's gotta be more than that. So, we'll talk more about that and then we'll have Tony Snow. He's rooting around in D.C. right now for us. He'll be up.


O'Reilly: Alright. You are looking at the Stars and Stripes Ball. We're actually gonna take you to three of those balls in a little while. I don't know what happens there. I'm never invited to these things which is good because I don't have those kinds of clothes. Continuing now with political analyst Dick Morris. You believe this was one of the greatest speeches in inaugural history, at least modern history, ‘cause of JFK.

MORRIS: I was so moved by it.

O'Reilly: You know, you know ...


O'Reilly: You know he's gonna get whacked.

MORRIS: Of course. Look. Go back to the 1980s. OK?

O'Reilly: Right.

MORRIS: When the left, including me back then, was saying "We want stability, we want arms control, we want negotiation" and the right was saying "We want a crusade in the cause of freedom because freedom will persuade people in the Soviet Union and will make the domination of the Soviets untenable," and the right was right and the left was wrong. And I believe that the establishment media has never understood the potential of argumentation to change people's perspectives and minds. And I believe that Bush speaks of unleashing a mystical power of freedom by summoning it, tapping into it and galvanizing it in countries.

O'Reilly: But if you don't have the world ...

MORRIS (overtalks all words): I've seen this work over and over lately.

O'Reilly: If you don't have the world going along with your agenda - and this is what they're gonna say tomorrow - I know it. OK. It's fine for Bush to say we want liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty. But, if nobody else in the world helps you, you can't do it by yourself.

MORRIS: You're not doing it by yourself. You have Britain. You don't have France ‘cause they're French. You don't have Germany ‘cause of the history of Germany not wanting to do high profile things that could lead to action.

O'Reilly (overtalks last 5 words): Ya' don't have China. Ya' don't have Russia.

MORRIS: You don't have China. You don't have Russia. You don't have Japan. You sure have Eastern Europe. You sure have the disenfranchised souls in these countries. And that's the constituency Bush is tapping into.

O'Reilly: Yeah, it is. It'll be interesting to see if he can rally more support for his vision of liberty around the planet. Now let's get back to the United States of America. He didn't talk much about the domestic end. Now you expect to see more of that in the State of the Union. But he did mention it and let's roll the clip now.

VIDEOCLIP OF GEORGE at inaugural podium: "In America's ideal of freedom citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act and the GI Bill of Rights. And we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time." (End clip.)

O'Reilly: Alright. That's basically a signal that he wants to reform Social Security and by privatization. He wants to set up medical savings accounts ..

MORRIS: And a flat tax.

O'Reilly: ... and he wants to reform the tax code.

MORRIS: Wants to move to a flat tax.

O'Reilly: All of those things are noble goals, but he again - is going to meet resistance form the hard left that doesn't want to do any of ‘em. Why doesn't the hard left wanna do any of this?

MORRIS: Because they want the issue.

O'Reilly: Is it just that simple?

MORRIS: They want the issue. We had a deal on the table in 1997 and ‘98 to save Social Security, save Medicare, have a big tax cut and pay off most of the national debt. And the message from the Democrats in Congress to the Clinton administration was "Don't do this. Don't make a deal with the Republicans ‘cause we need these issues to take back the administration."

O'Reilly: But the press doesn't care about that. I could understand the, the politicos .....

MORRIS: The press is [difficult?]. The press is pessimistic. You know, somewhere along the line liberalism, which is basically optimistic, became pessimistic. And conservatism, which is founded in pessimism, became optimistic. I think Ronald Reagan probably did that. But the media says "Oh, don't try to persuade people to revolt. You'll never get them. Oh, don't invest in Social Security privatization, it won't work out. Oh, don't go to a flat tax, people will just try to skim." What Bush needs to do on his domestic agenda - it's all in the details. If he moves them properly, if he makes the correct details, he can skate by on this program and get it passed.

O'Reilly: Even Social Security? That's going to be tough.

MORRIS: Well, Social Security in my view is - the key is don't cut benefits. Index the retirement age to life expectancy. People will accept that.

O'Reilly: Yeah, they go up. Instead of setting it at 59-1/2. Yeah. You go to 66.

MORRIS: If you can live ten years longer, you work ten years longer. Nobody'll object to that. It's like getting cooked in your sleep.

O'Reilly: Right. Especially the elderly people now. It wouldn't apply to them.

MORRIS: It wouldn't apply to them at all.

O'Reilly .. or much to the people who are within ten years of retirement. OK. Dick Morris. There he is, everybody - analyzing the speech. We appreciate it.


SNOW (responding to O'Reilly's question about his opinion of Bush's speech): I think this is George W. Bush repositioning the United States in the world and repositioning the Republican party. This is a manifesto for a party that says "OK, you guys need an organizing idea. Here it is. It's freedom. It's freedom from a series of government programs that have not worked for a very long time and have placed Americans in shackles and it is freedom from oppression abroad."

You pull those together and there's a second theme, Bill, that you referred to a number of times. That's character. He talks about the American heart. So, I think, it was much more than trying to explain Iraq. I think it was really trying to explain what is really an audacious, ambitious, idealistic program of trying to advocate liberty around the globe and, frankly, dramatically reshape American government here at home.


O'Reilly: We're seeing the ball here. But, then, there were the street people out in Washington today, Tony. How many of them were there? Did they have any impact? What did you think about that?

SNOW: The protest was actually much smaller than people had expected. It turns out maybe 500 to 1,000. People were talking about 10,000 or more.

[VIDEOCLIP of a woman being hosed by SWAT team members.]

SNOW (continuing): There. You see some guys getting gassed a little bit when they started hurling debris over the fence. Also, some protesters had breached that fence briefly. (Laughs) A real no-no on an inaugural parade.

O'Reilly Yeah. You're not gonna. Right.,, [Comment: For just the tiniest flash I thought O'Reilly looked distressed about the video. I remember thinking to myself, maybe, just maybe he didn't like seeing this image of a regular-looking American woman being hosed down then wiping her eyes. But, then again, maybe I was mistaken.]

VIDEOCLIP OF Texas-Wyoming Inaugural Ball. The president and his wife in her expensive gown are on the stage.

SNOW (still laughing): So, frankly, these guys ended up being far less impressive both in number and tactics than folks had expected.

O'Reilly: OK. So there were ...

SNOW: A minor footnote.

O'Reilly: ... a few hundred of them, maybe? That was about it, right?

SNOW: Yeah. 500 to 1,000.

[For more information on the protests go to New York Times.]

O'Reilly: OK. In the long run, President Bush is going to be judged by Iraq, I believe. I think that is the defining - you know, after 9/11 - war on terror. But, now, the war on terror is actually taking a back seat to Iraq and the President - you know, I disagree with you a little as I think that the larger picture of liberty always came back to the fact that here's why we did Iraq. This is why we did it. Liberty was necessary ...

SNOW: Yeah, but ..

O'Reilly: ... to sustain the United States' liberty. And I really think he knows Iraq is really the primo issue for him. I'll give you the last word on it.

SNOW: Well, Iraq is the primo issue, but you've got to, ya' gotta figure out what follows Iraq. If that sets off a chain of democratic revolutions ...

O'Reilly: He wins.

SNOW: ... around the globe.

O'Reilly: He wins.

SNOW: He wins big.

SNOW: Furthermore, but also if he revolutionizes government, he wins big as well. I think there are two parts. There's the domestic component. He didn't get to that in the first term because of the war. Now, he's got a chance to do it. You're absolutely right. Failure in Iraq. That becomes his political epitaph.

O'Reilly: Yeah. Alright, Tony. Thanks very much. Go back to the parties and we'll have plenty more ahead.

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