Parting Thoughts on Big Changes

President Bush's speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (search) confirmed the obvious. Slowly, we are shaking off the residues of a selfish age, and giving idealism a chance.

Pessimism and world-weariness are out; optimism and ambition are it. Narcissism is out; patriotism and service are in.

Forget about the old slogan: The economy (search), stupid. The new bumper sticker reads: The destiny, stupid.

This president has laid siege to our imaginations by taking seriously the fondest dreams of our founding fathers. He not only muses about global liberty; he wants to make it happen. No trial balloons, no posturing - just a determined effort to grab history's brass ring.

The very effort reveals a moral self-confidence that frustrates the French, rankles the Russians, scares the Syrians and irks the Iranians.

But by pushing to extend the frontiers of freedom - while trying to avoid the arrogance that power automatically bestows on its holders - the president has revolutionized politics. He has forced Americans to contemplate things that matter - including the proposition that we become stronger as other lands become more free.

It's worth making that question the centerpiece of American politics for a while, for if global freedom isn't our goal and destiny, what is?