Friday, September 03, 2004

First Draft - Presidential Edition, a Parody

Imagine the first draft of President George W. Bush's 2004 RNC Convention Speech - before the truth was edited out. It might go something like this...

Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens: I am honored by your support, and I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

When I said those words four years ago, none of us could have envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart of this great city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning. We saw the bravery of rescuers grow with danger. We learned of passengers on a doomed plane who died with a courage that frightened their killers. I know, because I was in contact with the hijackers until the very end. We have seen a shaken economy attempt to rise to its feet, then, with my help, collapse in a quivering heap. And we have seen Americans in uniform storming empty mountain strongholds, long after the occupants had escaped; and charging through sandstorms in a country that posed no threat; and liberating millions from their homes, jobs, and for many, their lives, with acts of valor that would make the men of Normandy proud, and torture that could put even Tito to shame.

Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb by my lousy economic policies, and found the strength to climb them, at least part way, before slipping back down. Now, because we in my administration, and our mega-rich buddies have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. It is deep, and getting deeper. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world for oligarchy and a more hopeful America, for me and mine, but not those hopeless economic girlie-men and their gay friends, and those loser poor people; and nothing will hold us back, except well-informed voters.

In the work we have done, and the work we will do, I am fortunate to have a superb liar and cheat for Vice President. I have counted on Dick Cheney's calm, sociopathic personality and steady lack of judgment in difficult days, and I am honored to have him at my side.

I am grateful to share my walk in life with Laura Bush. Americans have come to see the goodness and simplemindedness and kindness and strength I first saw 26 years ago, before it faded, and we love our First Lady, anyway.

I am a fortunate father of two spirited, intelligent, at least more intelligent than me, and lovely young women. I am blessed with a sister and brothers who are also my closest friends, which is especially important in Florida at election time. And I will always be the proud and grateful son of George and Barbara Bush. And finally, I am grateful to be the cousin of John Ellis, who runs Fox News’s election desk, which is helpful all the time.

My father served eight years at the side of another great American prevaricator, Ronald Reagan. His spirit of optimism and goodwill and decency are figments of my imagination, and the imaginations of everyone in this hall, and in our avaricious hearts, we bear a greed that diminishes us all, and will always define our party.

Two months from today, voters will make a choice based on the limited information available (outside of the pile of expunged and classified records we have built to prevent you from seeing the truth); the convictions we hold that all men are created equal, but some are more equal than others; and the delusional vision that guides us forward to the edge of the abyss. A presidential election is a contest for the future, because it’s not happening until November. Tonight I will tell you where I stand, which is New York City, which I want to rename 9-11Village; and what I believe, based on faulty intelligence; and where I will lead this country, like lemmings, in the next four years, if we can keep you fooled until November.

I believe every child can learn to suffer from a poor education, and every public school must teach without supplies, like books - so we passed the most important federal education reform in history, in terms of dismantling the results of other more important ones – like that one that created public schools. Because we acted, children are making sustained downward progress in reading and math, America's schools are getting better at doing without, and nothing will hold us back, except well-educated voters.

I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America's seniors, but not to do anything else for them - so I brought Republicans and Democrats together to strengthen Medicare benefits for pharmaceutical companies. Now seniors are getting immediate help buying medicine from Canadian pharmacies by that democratic mayor of Burlington, Vermont, but not for long. Soon, with my plan, every senior will be able to get prescription drug coverage at increased cost, and nothing will hold us back, except healthy voters who catch onto the scam.

I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America's workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and ranchers to work extra hard for less money if their jobs are in jeopardy - so we unleashed that energy with the largest tax cut ever designed to take from the poor and give to the rich, causing the super-rich to heave a sigh of relief that hasn’t been heard in a generation. Because we acted, our economy is growing in India again, and creating low wage, lousy jobs for you, and nothing will hold us back, except voters who see through the scam.

I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people from the truth. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in truth avoidance this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy, instead of hurtling toward it at light speed. This slowdown will not happen on my watch, because I’m a war president.

I am running for President with a clearly and positively evil plan to build a safer world for massive corporations to take everything from you, and a more hopeful America for their owners, like “Kenny Boy” Lay, and Dick Cheney, and my Dad, oh, and Richard Perle. I am running with a non-compassionate neo-conservative philosophy: that government should help rich people improve their lives, not try to run their lives, but it’s OK to run the lives of women and gays and the poor. I believe this Nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership and that is why, with your help in concealing the truth, we will win this election, because no matter what they want, Americans don’t deserve such a leader.

The story of America is the story of expanding limitations on liberty: an ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and include more unsuspecting victims. Our Nation's founding commitment is still inexplicably holding up against our deepest commitment, because of those darned liberals: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the frontiers of limiting freedom.

The times in which we live and work are changing dramatically. The workers of our parents' generation typically had one job, one skill, one career - often with one company that provided health care and a pension. And most of those workers were men. Today, workers change jobs, even careers, many times during their lives, because of all the layoffs, whether they want to or not. And in one of the most dramatic shifts our society has seen, two-thirds of all Moms also work outside the home, which is why companies keep having to lay off the more qualified men. In fact, Moms who refuse to keep themselves to women’s work, like being librarians, are the cause of all of the unemployment in this country.

This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living through chemistry (we recommend Prozac); support your President’s family; and have a rewarding, if short career arranging the clothes racks at Walmart for minimum wage, with no benefits and forced, unpaid overtime. And government must take the wrist on your left side and join it to the one on your right side, behind your back, if you dare complain.

Many of our most fundamental systems - the tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker training - were created for the world of yesterday, a time in which those programs helped millions of people achieve the American dream, but that was yesterday not tomorrow, at least not if I’m president. We will transform these systems so that all citizens are ill-equipped, ill-prepared - and thus truly free - to make your own choices between eating or paying for heat and pursue your next meal instead of your own dreams.

My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a growing economy to those cheaper, more obedient workers in India and Indonesia. We now compete in a global market that provides not only new buyers for our goods that Walmart is telling their suppliers to produce overseas, but also new competition for our workers in the desperate race to the bottom, which, with my leadership, you are going to win.

To create more low-wage jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world for sweatshops to do business. To create those jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion of corporate profits by restraining federal spending on things like police, firefighters, roads, libraries, textbooks and teachers, reducing regulations that keep you safe, and making CEO’s tax relief permanent, leaving you to pick up the tab with your new lower pay. To create those lousy jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy, except oil, because that’s how my family and friends make their money. To create those jobs, we will expand the trade of your high wage jobs for new low wage ones and level the playing field, enabling people in other countries to sell formerly American goods and services across the globe, from the American company’s off-shore tax haven, Mexico, or India, whichever is cheaper. And above all, we must protect small business owners and workers from the knowledge that the claim that there is an explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America is a lie.

Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess - filled with special interest loopholes for my friends, saddling our people with more than six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year, especially the accountants for us super-rich people, and corporations, because it takes a lot of time to figure out ways to avoid paying our fair share. The American people deserve to suffer, because our privilege and our economic future demands it. - We want a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system for those already in power. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code to make things easier for my family’s accountant.

Another priority in a new term will be to help Indian and Indonesian workers take advantage of the expanding third-world economy to find better, higher-paying jobs. In this time of change, because their unemployment insurance has run out, many American workers want to go back to school to learn different or higher-level skills. So we will double the number of unemployed people served by our principal job training program and increase funding for community colleges, but not enough to make any real difference. I know that with the right skills, American workers can compete with anyone, anywhere in the world, as long as they can get work visas and speak the language when they follow their job to the new country.

In this time of change, opportunity in some communities is more distant than in others, because India is much further away from some communities than it is from others. To stand with workers in poor communities - and those that have lost manufacturing, textile, and other jobs - we will create American opportunity zones. In these areas, we'll provide tax relief to corporate cheats and other incentives, like allowing obscene levels of pollution, to attract new, heartless business, and improve the CEOs’ housing and provide job training to bring hopelessness and low-wage, benefit-free work with unpaid overtime throughout all of America.

As I've traveled the country, I've met many workers and small business owners who have told me they are worried they cannot afford health care. More than half of the uninsured are small business employees and their families. In a new term, we must allow small firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts available to big companies, which they won’t bother with, because we will also offer a tax credit to encourage small businesses and their employees to set up health savings accounts instead. And we’ll provide too little direct help for low-income Americans to purchase them, so only those who already have a major health problem will buy it.

These accounts will give workers the security of unaffordable insurance against major illness, the opportunity to save money they don’t have, tax-free, for routine health expenses they can’t afford, and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs because of a layoff. And we will provide low-income Americans with better access to less health care: In a new term, I will ensure every poor county in America has a poorly-funded, understaffed community or rural health center, whose funds will come from closing hospitals and schools.

As I have traveled our country, I have met too many good doctors, which is a problem, especially OB-GYNS, who are being forced out of practice because of the high cost of malpractice insurance, not lawsuits. To make health care even more unaffordable and inaccessible, we must pass medical liability reform now, because all will benefit when the few bad doctors can kill or injure more patients with impunity. And in all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, DC, unless those patients are female.

In this time of change, government must take the side of working families’ employers. In a new term, we will change outdated labor laws to offer comp-time and flex-time, instead of overtime. Our laws should never stand in the way of a more family-friendly workplace, unless that would reduce corporate profits.
Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership society, because ownership brings security, and dignity, and independence, as you’ll understand, once your employers own you.

Thanks to our policies, which necessitated manufacturing a housing bubble to disguise just how bad the economy is, homeownership in America is at an all-time high. Tonight we set a new goal: seven million “more affordable’ homes in the next 10 years so more wealthy American families will be able to open the door and say welcome to my summer home.

In an ownership society, more people will be saddled with the need to own their health plans, and have the shaky confidence of owning a piece of their retirement, just like that 401K plan the Enron employees owned. We will always keep the promise of Social Security for our older workers, but not the benefits. With the huge Baby Boom generation approaching retirement, many of our children and grandchildren understandably worry whether Social Security will be there when they need it, now that we’ve wiped out the surplus that was built specifically for the purpose of saving social security. We must succeed in convincing them to strengthen their own Social Security at their parents’ and grandparents’ expense by “allowing” younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account – we’ll tell them “it’s a nest egg you can call your own, and government can never take away,” because, of course that will be the job of the investment bankers. The Baby Boomers themselves, however, will get squat, because their benefits would have been paid with the money that the younger workers will put in their risky private accounts.

In all these proposals, we seek to provide not just a government program, but a path - a path to greater opportunity for loss, more freedom from jobs, and more control over your own impoverished life, just like people had in the late 1920’s.

This path begins with our youngest Americans. To build a more hopeful America, we must help our children reach as far as their vision and character can take them, if they’re privileged, otherwise, they’re stuck with the public schools. Tonight, I remind every parent and every teacher, I say to every child: No matter what your circumstance, no matter where you live - your school will be the path to the promise of America. If you can’t afford a tony, private school, it will be a sad and barren path, but you’ll get used to it.

We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results, while cutting resources, transferring the costs directly to you and your community, where aging voters who no longer need the schools will vote against funding, leading to fewer teachers, out-of-pocket fees to ride the bus, fees for school sports, and more. We are insisting on accountability on your part, not ours, empowering parents to pay and teachers to find new lines of work, and making sure that local people are in charge of, and must pay more for their schools. By testing every child with biased and pointless tests, we are identifying those who need help, as if we couldn’t just ask the teachers - and we're providing a record level of funding to get them that help in special programs, run by corporate a corporate monopoly, designed to make them do better on the test created by that monopoly, but which will not help them learn the critical reasoning skills that Walmart doesn’t want their employees to have, anyway. In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor - and this year 90 percent of its students passed state tests in reading and math, which means that 1 in 10 failed. The principal expresses the philosophy of his school this way: "We don't focus on what we can't do at this school; we focus on what we can do - We do whatever it takes to get kids across the finish line, except for the failing 10%." This principal is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations for the passing 90%, and that is the spirit of our education reform, and the commitment of our country: No dejaremos a ningún niño atrás. We will leave no child behind, as we decimate the public schools, except for the ones who fail.

We are making progress in dismantling the Great Society - and there is more to do. In this time of change, most new lower-wage jobs are filled by people with at least two years of college, yet only about one in four students gets there. In our high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help students at risk, but not with federal funds, it’ll have to come from your pocket. We will place a new focus on dismantling math and science. As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation. By raising performance on meaningless tests, instead of in-depth knowledge in our high schools, and expanding Pell grants, but not as much as we cut them, for low and middle income families, we will help more Americans start their career with a college diploma from one of those under-funded, under-staffed community colleges I mentioned before.

America's children must also have a healthy start in life. In a new term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up for the government's health insurance programs, but without jeopardizing the tax give-aways for the wealthy, because we won’t increase the funding to cover the new enrollees . We will not allow a lack of attention, or information, to stand between these children and the health care they need, only a lack of money should stand between children and necessary health care. As for their parent’s health care, well, don’t go there.

Anyone who wants more details on my agenda can find them online. The web address is not very imaginative, but it's easy to remember:

These changing times can be exciting times of expanded opportunity. And here, you face a choice. My opponent's policies are dramatically different from ours. Senator Kerry opposed the Orwellian-named Medicare reform and health savings accounts, because he knew their real intent. After supporting my education reforms, he now wants to dilute them with money. He opposes legal and medical liability reform, because he knows how much harm my proposals would bring to ordinary Americans. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty in a way that increased the Alternative Minimum Tax for thousands of middle class families, opposed doubling the child credit by opposing the piece of legislation it was in, and opposed lowering income taxes for all who pay them, in a way that unfairly gave almost all the money to the rich, leaving only scraps for the peasants, I mean you. To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for - he's proposed more than two trillion dollars in new federal spending so far, well maybe not new, but spending and that's a lot less than Iraq is going to cost, and way less than the deficit I’ve run up, heck, it’s even less than the surplus I blew before creating the deficit. Pretty good, even for a senator from Massachusetts. To pay for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing taxes for the people who don’t pay their fair share already - and that's the kind of promise a politician usually keeps.

His policies of tax and spend - of expanding government rather than expanding opportunity - are the policies of the past – when the economy was booming, and people had jobs. We are on the path to the future - and we are not turning back, at least not if you elect me.

In this world of change, some things do not change: the values we try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and purpose. Our society rests on a foundation of responsibility and character and family commitment.

Because family and work are sources of stability and dignity, I support Bill Clinton’s welfare reform that strengthens family and requires work, forcing parents to either neglect their children, or live on the streets, by not funding child care. Homelessness and neglect build character and make families stronger. Because a caring society will value its weakest members, we must make a place for the unborn child, ignoring the child’s mother at all costs and doubly avoiding the child after it’s born. Because religious charities provide a safety net of mercy and compassion, our government must never discriminate against them. In fact, our government should go a step further and become actively involved in our religious institutions. The government should determine with its policies and funding which are the good religions and which are the bad ones. Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the protection of marriage against activist judges. Activist judges should not be allowed to marry other activist judges. They also should not be allowed to perform marriages, or even to know married people. We should send them all to their own island. And I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law. I will be sure to appoint only those with strong personal opinions about putting the government in charge of your religion.

My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of "conservative values," which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters. Now, there are some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, like Governor Schwartzenegger, I'm afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you voted against the discriminatory bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values, except in the sense of wanting to conservatively avoid signing a law you know to be both discriminatory and unconstitutional. If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan presidency eight years of "moral darkness," just because he sold weapons of mass destruction to both Iraq and Iran in order to prop up the insurgents in an illegal war in Central America, then you may be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them, unless you believe that it is better to conserve the lives of millions of post-born humans from brutal dictators on two continents, even if it’s less profitable.

This election will also determine how America responds to the continuing danger of terrorism - and you know where I stand. Three days after September 11th, I stood where Americans died, in the ruins of the Twin Towers. Workers in hard hats were shouting to me, "Whatever it takes." A fellow grabbed me by the arm and he said, "Do not let me down." Since that day, I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in defending America - whatever it takes. Except that I’ve pretty much given up on Osama bin Laden. That sucker is hard to find. Saddam was better target, since we knew, as Condi testified to congress in 2001, that Saddam really had been rather effectively contained by the sanctions and weapons inspections. Plus, he wasn’t our friend anymore, but Osama’s family is still our friend. Heck, only 15 of the highjackers came from his home country.

So we have fought the terrorists across the earth - not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake, for a few months, then we moved on to Iraq. Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders, then we sent them to Iraq, because we are determined to protect our new homeland in the Middle East from the indigenous people to whom the oil belongs. We are transforming our military into casualties and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services’ ability to round up and torture people we don’t like. We are staying on the offensive - striking terrorists abroad, after we create them - so we do not have to face them here at home, where we haven’t had any terrorist attacks, except clinic bombings and biological agents in mail sent to our legislators, and that sniper guy in Maryland. And we are working to advance the reduction of liberty in the broader Middle East, because that lack of freedom will bring a future of hope for our corporations, and the lack of peace we all want for the arms dealers and war-profiteers. And we will prevail, unless you wake up.

Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat in my imagination, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, all of that is still true, except that Iraq is now a real, active threat. The government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, daily, in the capital, which is all that remains in their control. Pakistan is capturing terrorist leaders, when prodded, but letting most of them roam free, They’re also selling WMDs to Iran. Saudi Arabia is making raids and arrests, then benevolently chopping off people’s heads after a mock trial. Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, so we’ll pound Iran instead of them, all couple hundred members of the army of a kind of free Iraq are fighting for near freedom alongside our 120,000 plus troops, and more than three-quarters of al-Qaida's key members and associates, from before their recruitment effort really took off, have been detained or killed. We have led the lying, many have joined, and America and the world are safer from the truth.

This progress toward catastrophe involved careful diplomacy among the disparate members of my administration; clearly amoral purpose; and some tough decisions. And the toughest came on Iraq. We knew Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror, because we helped him accomplish those things. We knew his long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction that we supplied. And we know that September 11th requires our country to think differently: We must, and we will, confront threats to America before it is too late, heck, even before they exist.

In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat, back before Gulf War 1. Later, members of both political parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat we painted with carefully selected false intelligence, and voted to authorize the use of force, as a means of getting Saddam to agree to weapons inspections. We went to the United Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders in the Middle East urged him to comply. After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused, because he had no arms to disarm, and I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office. Then he complied with inspections, putting my plans in jeopardy. This led to another decision - a decision no president would ask for, but must be prepared to make, if he wants to carry out an unjustified war. Do I forget the lessons of September 11th? Yes. And I instead take the word of a madman named Wolfowitz. Nor do I take action to defend our country. Faced with that choice, I will defend America’s unjust war every time, anything else would be an admission of failure.

Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history, except for the Taliban. More than 50 million people have been liberated, some from their homes, others from their jobs, and still others from their lives. Most have even been liberated from their electricity and water. And this kind of enforced pseudo-democracy is coming to the broader Middle East, a pseudo-democracy in which we appoint the leaders and the people get to vote later, maybe. If we like their candidates. In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they can to intimidate people, with ever greater success - yet more than 10 million citizens have registered to vote in the October presidential election - a resounding endorsement of democracy, for the men, but not the women, and only in the capital. Despite ongoing acts of violence, Iraq now has a strong Prime Minister, a former CIA operative, prone to personally executing prisoners at gunpoint. They have a national council that excludes the Kurds, and national elections are scheduled for January, though the interim constitution allows the leader to suspend the constitution right after the elections. Our Nation is standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, except Afghanistan, because when America gives its word, America must keep its word, unless that word was given in the form of signing a treaty, like the Geneva Conventions, or any Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty, or bunches of UN resolutions.

As importantly, we are serving a vital and historic cause that will make our country safer, maybe, but only after decades or centuries of destruction. Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies, which no longer feed resentments and breed violence for export. Free governments in the Middle East will fight terrorists instead of harboring them, and that helps us keep the peace. Granted, we’re not trying to make free societies, just ones that we control better than the ones that got out of hand. We liked it better when we controlled the Shah in Iran and that guy in Iraq who’s not there anymore. So our mission in Afghanistan and Iraq is clear: We will help new leaders to train their armies to suppress their people in our favor, and move toward elections that instill the people we choose, and get on the path of stability and pseudo-democracy as quickly as possible in a world where the pesky people want things their own way. And then our troops will return home with the honor they have earned, but not healthcare. And if they’re injured, they’re getting home from the hospital on their own dime, the girlie-men.

Our troops know the historic importance of our work. One Army Specialist wrote home: "We are transforming a once sick society into a hopeful place - The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq," he continued, "are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists, who were no threat to us before we started bombing and shooting them, unlike that Osama guy."

That young man is right - our men and women in uniform are doing a superb job for American corporations. Tonight I want to speak to all of them - and to their families: You are involved in a struggle of historic proportion, between a just society for all, and a society for the corporations. Because of your service and sacrifice, we are defeating the brand new society-for-all type terrorists where they live and plan, and making America safer from the truth. Because of you, women in Afghanistan are no longer shot in a sports stadium, because there are no sporting events, it’s too unsafe. Because of you, the people of Iraq no longer fear being executed and left in mass graves by Saddam Hussein. Instead, they get to dig their relatives out of the rubble one at a time and bury them in single graves, except those killed in the streets that are too risky – they’re just left to rot in the street. Because of you, the world is more unjust and will not be more peaceful. We owe you our thanks, and we owe you something more. We will give you all the resources, all the tools, and all the support you need for victory, the things which you should have had before we sent you, like ceramic armor, or armored vehicles, or sufficient food or water. Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I proposed, and the Congress overwhelmingly passed, 87 billion dollars in funding, 60 billion of which was needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. My opponent and his running mate voted against the particular bill that included both this money for bullets, and fuel, and vehicles, and body armor and an extra 20 billion in unnecessary spending, with no strings attached. When asked to explain his vote, the Senator said, "I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it." That’s because the 1st time through, there were controls on the extra 20 billion, so I refused to sign it. Then he said he was "proud" of that vote, darn liberal, out to control unnecessary spending. Then, when pressed, he said it was a "complicated" matter. There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat, unlike this pork-filled legislation.

Our allies also know the historic importance of our work. About 40 nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq. And I deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel of compliant leaders like Prime Minister Howard, and President Kwasniewski, and Prime Minister Berlusconi - and, of course, Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Again, my opponent takes a different approach. In the midst of war, he has called America's allies, quote, a "coalition of the coerced and the bribed," Just because we either offered them big bucks or threatened them with sanctions, depending on the country. That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia, and others - allies that deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician, like those loser countries that didn’t cave, such as France. I respect every soldier, from every country, who serves beside us in the hard work of history. America is grateful, and America will not forget, though we might not provide so much of that money due to the deficit and all.

The people we have freed won't forget either. Not long ago, seven Iraqi men came to see me in the Oval Office. They had "X"s branded into their foreheads, and their right hands had been cut off, by Saddam Hussein's secret police, the sadistic punishment for imaginary crimes, like theft, and that’s very different from the Saudi policy of stoning women to death for having affairs. During our emotional visit one of the Iraqi men used his new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a prayer for God to bless America. I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed, and the greatest force for good on this earth, in your minds. The rest of the world changed their opinions when we invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat. Now they think our country is more of a dangerous global bully.

Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know, their recruiting has never been easier. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate. They also know that we’re not trying to create any such thing. They know that men and women with hope, and purpose, and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent, unless an oppressive regime has driven them over the edge. The terrorists are fighting imposed pseudo-freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because imposed pseudo-freedom is their greatest fear - and they should be afraid, because imposed pseudo-freedom is on the march.

I believe in the transformational power of liberty: The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom for the dictators we like and for multinational corporations. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. In Afghanistan, the people’s favorite warlords have already seized all but the capital, so it’s only a matter of time before the Taliban is back in charge. They’re very hopeful.

Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. When they finish laughing, they’ll continue fighting Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming, but probably not anytime soon, especially in Saudi Arabia. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror, and so will take up arms against their oppressors. Reformers, and political prisoners, and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever, only as long as we can hold out. And as imposed pseudo-freedom advances, over the dead bodies of your children - heart by heart, and nation by nation - America will be more secure and the world more peaceful, in my dreams, your mileage may vary.

America has done this kind of work before - and there have always been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, "Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed." End quote. Maybe that same person's still around, writing editorials. Fortunately, we had a resolute president named Truman, who with the American people persevered, in conjunction with our allies from old Europe and a boatload of diplomacy, knowing that a new democracy at the center of Europe, right where there had been a democracy before, and surrounded by democratic countries, would lead to stability and peace. And because that generation of Americans held firm in the cause of liberty, instead of puppet regimes, we live in a better and safer world today, except when terrorists attack us, or we go to Orange Alert. Luckily, I was granted the power to screw that up.

The progress we and our friends and allies, which are different from friends, seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily, or all at once, or even ever. Yet Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of liberty to transform lives and nations, just ask the native Americans. That power brought settlers on perilous journeys, killed droves of native peoples, relegating them to lousy land that now turns out to be a uranium-laden gold mine that we want to take after all, inspired colonies to rebellion against a guy named George who wanted control over their religion and wanted their money to fight his pre-emptive wars for personal gain, ended the sin of slavery, which this party thought was a good idea, until we came up with the Southern Strategy for winning elections, and set our Nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century, unless the tyrants were our friends. We were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany, where it had been before, and Japan and Nicaragua, where we didn’t like their choice, so he had to be replaced, and Central Europe and the Baltics and that noble story goes on. I believe that America is called to lead the cause of imposed pseudo-freedom in a new century.

I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty, and they’ll continue to do so. I believe that given the chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised by man. I believe all these things because freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is the Almighty God's, as opposed to that wimp Allah, gift to every man and woman in this world. And I’m Almighty God, so I should know.

This moment in the life of our country will be remembered. Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word to build an empire unlike any before, or if we instead regained our sanity. Generations will know if we seized this moment, and used it to build a future of safety and peace, or if we continued on the path of destruction that we began in Iraq. The freedom of many, and the future security of our Nation, now depend on us. And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with me and my plans for world domination.

In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand, unless you believe what I say. You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too, like megalomania. People sometimes have to correct my English - I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it. Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking like you’ve got a stick up your behind" Now and then I come across as a little too blunt - and for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there. She never did know her place.

One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them - and whatever strengths you have, you're going to need them. These four years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget. I have tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September 11th - people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I would know how much was taken from them. I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even when it is right, which wasn’t the case for those poor slobs in Iraq. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing their job. I've held the children of the fallen, who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.

And I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. But I haven’t honored a single one with my presence at their funeral. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers - to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such misplaced pride in someone like me? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. Or could it be that they actually believe the baloney we’ve been feeding them? And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong. Too bad they had the misfortune of having me as their leader.

The world saw that spirit three miles from here, when the people of this city faced peril together, and lifted a flag over the ruins, and defied the enemy with their courage. My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell, and here a nation rose, right where it already was. Too bad about all those people who got sick or died after I told them it was safe to go back, even though the air was thick with asbestos and other toxic substances.

We see America's character in our military, which finds a way or makes one, like those soldiers who were clever enough to get killed when their unarmored vehicle hit an IED. We see it in our veterans, who are supporting military families in their days of worry. We see it in our young people, who have found heroes once again, after many hero-free years, because only soldiers, other than my opponent, or Max Cleland, or that McCain guy, can be heroes. We see that character in workers and entrepreneurs, who are renewing our economy with their effort and optimism, without any help from the government, because they’re not big enough to be worth it.. And all of this has confirmed one belief beyond doubt: Having come this far, our tested and confident Nation can achieve anything.

To everything we know there is a season - a time for sadness, a time for struggle, a time for rebuilding, or something like that, at least I think that’s how the song goes. And now we have reached a time for hope, but not Hope Arkanas, that’s where Clinton’s from. This young century will be liberty's century, unless you vote for me. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world, but I don’t want to promote liberty, I want pseudo-liberty, so don’t count on that safety thing. By encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America. Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom, which you can only hear with a tinfoil hat. This is the everlasting dream of America - and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go forward - grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and confident in the future demise of the greatest nation on earth. God bless you, and may God continue to bless America, but not anyone else.


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