Through the memory hole with George W.
By Lee Russ
Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 05:16 PM
Take a long look around you, think about the political events of the last 5.5 years, and read this excerpt from George W. Bush's first acceptance speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention:
This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise of prosperity been so vivid.
But times of plenty like times of crises are tests of American character.
Prosperity can be a tool in our hands used to build and better our country, or it can be a drug in our system dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty. Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment.
So tonight, we vow to our nation we will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.
We will confront the hard issues, threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security, before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.
And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country: to every man and woman, a chance to succeed; to every child, a chance to learn; and to every family, a chance to live with dignity and hope.
Little more than a -- little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of President's Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.
But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."
This administration had its moment, they had their chance, they have not led. We will.
Another test of leadership is tax relief.
The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason; we were fighting World War II. Today our high taxes fund a surplus. [Ed. Note--sounds to me like George W would understand the need to raise taxes to fight A WAR, but...]
The world needs America's strength and leadership. And America's armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay.
We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.
A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.
I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world, to turn these years of influence into decades of peace. And at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail.
I come from a different place and it has made me a different leader. In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was, "The sky's the limit," and we believed it. There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that with hard work, anybody could succeed and everybody deserved a chance.
The largest lesson I learned in Midland still guides me as governor of Texas: Everyone, from immigrant to entrepreneur, has an equal claim on this country's promise. So we improved our schools dramatically for children of every accent, of every background. We moved people from welfare to work. We strengthened our juvenile justice laws. Our budgets have been balanced with surpluses. And we cut taxes, not only once, but twice.
And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century: the new cures of medicine, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy and keep the peace. [Ed. Note--Can you say STEM CELL RESEARCH?]
Behind every goal I've talked about tonight is a great hope for our country. A hundred years from now this must not be remembered as an age rich in possession and poor in ideals.
Instead, we must usher in an era of responsibility.
My generation tested limits, and our country in some ways is better for it. Women are now treated more equally.
Racial progress has been steady; it's still too slow. We're learning to protect...
... we're learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back.
In a responsibility era, each of us has important tasks, work that only we can do. Each of us is responsible to love and guide our children and to help a neighbor in need. Synagogues, churches and mosques are responsible, not only to worship, but to serve. Corporations are responsible to treat their workers fairly and to leave the air and waters clean.
And our nation's leaders our responsible to confront problems, not pass them onto others.
And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, that president himself must be responsible.
So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.
When I act, you will know my reasons. And when I speak, you will know my heart.
I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.
I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them.
We are now the party of ideas and innovation, the party of idealism and inclusion, the party of a simple and powerful hope.
My fellow citizens, we can begin again.
After all of the shouting and all of the scandal, after all the bitterness and broken faith, we can begin again.
The wait has been long, but it won't be long now.
A prosperous nation is ready to renew its purpose and unite behind great goals, and it won't be long now.
Too angry to form coherent thoughts? Let me leave you with one, from columnist Derrick Z. Jackson in the Boston Globe, commenting on George W. Bush's speech to the NAACP a couple of days ago:
His praise of the Voting Rights Act was, of course, the most ironic moment of his speech, considering how he gained the Oval Office with the massive disqualification of black ballots in Florida.