With thanks from Jules Crittenden, who writes what GWB should say tonight:
Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.
I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.
I am, more or less, a lame duck. You’ve had your 100 hours of party
time. I know. I won’t get any legislation passed without some major
bottom-kissing. Maybe something on illegal aliens. That health
insurance thing I’ll be talking about later tonight is pretty much for
show. I know it isn’t going anywhere. A proposal to raise middle-class
taxes for a healthcare plan you don’t even want? What was I thinking?
None of that really matters. Not now. Those are peacetime issues
we’ve been bickering about for a long time, and I don’t expect we’ll
resolve them anytime soon.
So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the
truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your
ears to. The ugly truth.
The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough.
We went to war without building up our army, and now, I am trying to make up for that.
But that is not the disaster.
The disaster is that you, Congress and the American people, do not care to fight.
Faced with a fundamental challenge to our own security, to
everything we believe in, to the world order to peace and security for
which we and our parents fought so hard for so many years, you now want
to pretend like none of these threats are real. You want to surrender
to the evil I have been telling you about. An evil that, unchecked, can
consume large parts of the world and threatens to usher in a dark age.
You didn’t like it when I talked about evil. Sounded too simple, too uncompromising, too moralistic. Too … biblical.
I don’t know what else you call people who fly passenger jets into
office buildings; who rape women in front of their husbands and
children, and execute their opponents in acid baths; who seek to spread
tyrannical and archaic religious regimes that enslave women and stifle
fundamental freedoms. Who want to dominate the world’s primary oil
fields with nuclear weapons.
I call it evil. Works for me.
I’ve heard all the comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. George
Bush’s Vietnam. The myopia is astonishing, even for me, George Bush,
who you all think just isn’t that smart. But I learned something in
school: People who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Didn’t you learn anything from Vietnam? Didn’t you see what happened
when your predecessors in Congress, disgruntled and responding to
public opinion polls just like you are, voted repeatedly to undermine
an ally that was fighting for its survival and making headway against
evil? There, I’ve said it again. Millions of people were murdered or
And then, those who wished us ill … the evil-doers … evil, evil evil … took advantage of our weakness.
The Soviet Union, evil personified, invaded Afghanistan, knowing
we’d do nothing about it. Iran defied all international norms, took our
sovereign embassy and held our people hostage for 444 days. They knew
we’d do nothing about it. It was a massive humiliation we have been
paying for with our own precious blood ever since.
Where do you think this war we are now engaged in started, anyway?
Just ask Osama bin Laden, veteran of the Afghan war against the
Soviets, what lesson he learned from two decades of American
appeasement and withdrawal in the face of provocation.
Now, you want to negotiate with two of the world’s primary
sponsors of terrorism, who are directly involved in support of the
terrorists who murder our soldiers. You want to make an arrangement by
which we will exit Iraq, and leave it to them. To loot, to murder, to
fight over, while the rest of the world’s evil regimes look on, see our
weakness, and plot their own moves.
You can try that, with resolutions, by cutting spending for troops
in the field, as you seek the short-term satisfaction of withdrawal.
But I remain President of the United States, and as long as I am, I
will be no lame duck in this fight.
I will engage evil directly where I find it, in Iraq and in Iran.
With an aggressive and ruthless new strategy and a plan to build our
army as we should have a long time ago, I will show the American people
that we can fight and we can win. I expect that the American people,
though misled by their press and many of their elected representatives,
will see results and will get it. Because the American people are a
people who in the end don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, refuse to
lose, and will choose to win. I have faith in them.
Oh, there’s another one of those words you don’t like.
A nation that is not willing to fight for what it believes in, for
its place in the world, is not worthy of its own ideals. But that is
not America. I now intend to help America restore its faith in itself.
By fighting this necessary fight that we cannot afford to lose.
So … are you with me, or against us?