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15th January
written by Sean Noble

President George W. Bush will give his final address to the nation tomorrow night from the Oval Office.  He will follow in the tradition of many Presidents before him.  The most memorable of farewell addresses was Ronald Reagan in on Jan. 11, 1989, when he spoke of the “men and women of the Reagan Revolution” and talked about what his vision of the “shining city on a hill” meant to him. (full speech imbedded below)

The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

Reagan also gave a warning:

We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom–freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.

He concluded his speech with these absolutely inspiring words:

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was 8 years ago. But more than that: After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

The tragedy of the Bush presidency is that he won’t be able to say the same thing.

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  1. Thomas Grier

    I wonder if he is aware of his own “inabilities” as a leader. It must be crushing, in his own words he threw away his principles during the financial crisis. This is not meant as an indictment only as a stark reminder of the need to select powerful charismatic leaders….I still am beside myself on how McCain was elected. I understand Obama’s smoke and mirrors victory, I do not understand BUSH/MCCAIN victories…cross over appeal does not explain any of it.

  2. […] got me thinking about this today was a blog post I read last night by someone I really respect, Sean Noble, the former Chief of Staff for Congressman John Shadegg. […]

  3. 16/01/2009

    President Reagan is a once in a lifetime leader that very few will ever measure up with at the end of a political term. I agree that Bush can’t be held up to the same standard for his body of work, but I believe he did what he thought was right for the country. I agreed at times and disagreed at others, and will likely look back at the end of Obama’s term and say the same thing.

    There isn’t one politician or policy that is responsible for whatever the perception may be of the current plight of the country. At the end of the day, we the voters bear a great deal of the responsibility.

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