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Ambitious Agenda On Bush's Plate

President Bush turned from inaugural pageantry to a daunting second-term agenda Friday while his administration scrambled to explain his newly declared goal of ending tyranny around the world.

The president's expansive pledge, the major theme of his inaugural address, raised questions about whether Bush intended to apply new standards to allies or partners that are not ideal democracies, or aren't democracies at all. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and other countries fit that description.

He also called the country to greater patience in during the extended Iraq conflict. CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante reports that even member of the Republican party are growing skeptical over the administration's ability to pull off democratic elections abroad — and pull out of Iraq.

Both the vice president and the next secretary of state have offered rare public admissions of mistakes in post-war planning. Americans have little faith in a timely withdrawal, according to the results of a recent CBS News/New York Times poll. A full 75 percent of those polled predict that by the end of the second Bush agenda, a "significant number" of American troops will still be in Iraq.

"Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon," Mr. Bush said in his inauguration speech.

"I think you'll see him carry a new level of, shall we say, support for democratic forces in various countries," Boucher said. "It doesn't mean we abandon our friends. But many of our friends realize it's time for them to change anyway."

Boucher cited municipal elections in Saudi Arabia as one democratic advance, and he said the United States has long raised objections to human rights violations in China.

"We've always been critical of problems in China with human rights. And we will continue to make that part of our relationship."

While Mr. Bush pledged to advance liberty in nations deemed repressive, the United States has maintained strong ties with countries whose policies it openly criticizes. For example, some allies in the war against terror — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan — engage in political repression in varying degrees, according to the State Department.

As the world assessed the meaning of Mr. Bush's commitment, North Korea condemned the United States as a "wrecker of democracy as it ruthlessly infringes upon the sovereignty of other countries." Tensions with North Korea have been raw since Bush branded it part of an "axis of evil" with Iran and prewar Iraq.

The day after his inauguration, the president threw a White House luncheon for about 300 friends in town for the festivities. He also attended a National Prayer Service, following a tradition set by the nation's first chief executive, George Washington.

The hour-long service brought together 3,200 invited family, Cabinet members, top White House aides and others in the majestic, Gothic-style sanctuary of the National Cathedral.

The Bushes were caught off guard as the collection plate was passed their way. Apparently without his wallet, the President appeared relieved when someone seated behind him slipped him a bill to contribute.

President Bush is remaining in Washington part of the weekend to attend a black-tie dinner Saturday night. But he will fly to the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains on Sunday and remain there until Monday afternoon. He will speak to an anti-abortion rally in Washington by telephone Monday.

Next week, Mr. Bush will travel to Cleveland on Thursday to discuss health care initiatives. On Friday, he will take part in a Republican congressional retreat at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

With the inauguration over, the administration is increasing its focus on Bush's second-term agenda of overhauling Social Security, liberalizing the nation's immigration laws, simplifying taxes and spreading democracy across the Middle East.

His most pressing problem in the Middle East is Iraq, which on Jan. 30 holds its first free elections since it became independent in 1932.

Historian Joseph Ellis told Plante he thinks Mr. Bush's presidency will be measured by U.S. performance in Iraq.

"The great shadow, the great cloud, remains Iraq," Ellis said. "And what happens in Iraq will determine one way or the other whether the Bush legacy is a success or a failure."

With more than 1,360 Americans dead and 10,500 wounded in Iraq's violence, Bush hopes the elections will begin to bring stability and strengthen the foundations of democracy. Going into the elections, the administration readily acknowledges that four of Iraq's 18 provinces — including Baghdad — are unstable.

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