Analysis of George Bush’s Second Inaugural Speech

After getting re-elected, George Bush, as tradition and custom of United States Presidents, gave his second Inaugural Speech to begin his second term on 20th January, 2005. Three former presidents were present; Carter, Bush Snr, and Clinton. It took place inside the United States Capital, Washington D.C. The speech was delivered for twenty-one minutes, focused, and expounded on George’s prior foreign policies aimed at promotion of democracy, human rights, among other American-centered policies. The author/speechwriter was Michael Gerson.  The significance of Bush’s second Inaugural speech has been termed by historians as unique since it sought to address issues that had previously not been of key significance to the American leadership, not to mention any inaugural speech before. This paper is a comparative analysis of Bush’s inaugural address using a chapter from Jill Lepore’s 2012 book titled The Story of America.

Bush significantly begins his speech by addressing observing protocol unlike his predecessors who were subtle in whom they were to address in their speeches “Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, members of the United States Congress, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens”. By this, he is making clear his intention of who he wants to talk to. This is as opposed to President Washington;s inaugural address to, “Fellow Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives” or Jefferson’s subtle address to the Congress but calls people thus, “Friends and Fellow Citizens.” The significance of this line is that Bush wants to directly address every individual in the American society and draw their attention to what he wants to put across. (Lepore 309).

Bush demonstrates his willingness to adhere to the constitution and terms of office thereby can be termed as an address to the constitution. He also addresses the people when he tells them that they are the witness of the oath he has taken. From the start, he is focused at reconstituting the people as he mentions that there are deep commitments that unite the citizenry as a whole, from his assertion, “we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country… determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.” (Bush 2 L: 1). Different former presidents have had different descriptions of the constitution, for example, Quincy Adam’s description as, “a precious inheritance”, or Van Buren’s “a sacred instrument”. Contrary to those before him, Bush is insisting on committing the oath and sees the citizenry as the witnesses (Lepore, 312).

From the onset, Bush appeals to the history of the American people so as to appeal to the people the reason why they are united and why together they can succeed in anything by giving them their historic background, “by the history we have seen together. For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders.” This is echoed in Obama’s, “to choose the better history” (Lepore, 315).