Bush’s Road to Damascus Speech
An anonymous source slipped me a copy of President Bush’s primetime speech tonight. I don’t want to ruin the surprise but I must. Here it is:
Good evening. Tonight I want to talk about a lot things, not just Iraq. And then I have some announcements to make.
First, to Iraq.
You’ve heard me say many times that 911 changed everything. Well I meant it. But it goes deeper. It not only changed America, but it changed me as well. Before the 9/11 attacks my presidency was adrift. I had no idea a person could win the presidency only to be dwarfed by the office. I never looked or felt smaller in my whole life. Everyone was standing around waiting for me to do something and, frankly, I didn’t have a clue.
The 911 attacks changed all that in a flash, transforming me into a wartime president. Suddenly I really was Commander-in-Chief. The entire nation, Red voters, and Blue alike, looked to me to do something. And for the first time since I had taken office, here was something I actually could do. I ordered the military to go after the evildoers in Afghanistan and liberated that country from their grasp.
It was so easy, and so popular. I hadn’t felt more capable or in control since my cocaine snorting days. My old smirk was back, my fake bow legged cowboy stroll returned, I was backslapping and getting backslapped like the good old days.
But then the war in Afghanistan began winding down and I was faced with the prospect of becoming a peacetime president again, something I clearly had not been good at before. Keeping my administration on a wartime footing had not only invigorated my presidency but made it a snap to push through domestic laws that wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in hell in peacetime.
Take the Patriot Act, for example. We were able to expand the search and seizure powers of the law enforcers across the board. A lot of that had to with the name – The Patriot Act. What would we have called those changes if we had been at peace, "The Library Book Disclosure Act?" Or “The Holding Suspects Without Cause Act?” It would never have passed. But who during a time of war was going to vote against something called The Patriot Act? It was a slam dunk.
And there were other benefits as well. The war was a real boost to the US economy. Defense contractors opened new production lines and hired workers. Jobs were being created. And what great timing. My tax cuts had failed to stimulate the economy so those defense jobs were good for the economy, good for working families and good for me.
But, as I said, things were winding down in Afghanistan. That’s when Dick and Karl suggested I asked the CIA what Saddam was up to. They figured, since we already had a lot of troops and gear deployed in the region this was a good time to remove that thorn for the world’s side too. It made sense to me.
So I asked the CIA to build a case on Saddam; I didn’t much care what kind of case, just a case. Tie him to 91l, terrorists or weapons of mass destruction. I figured Saddam was such a bad guy there’d be a surplus of reasons to justify knocking him off.
The CIA director presented me with intelligence that was -- I have to admit, pretty iffy. I even said so at the time. But it was everything they had so we had to go with it. I was determined not to waste this rare opportunity.
I want you to understand my thinking at the time. Saddam was demonstrably a bad actor, a dictator, and a tyrant. He was killing Iraqis by the thousands; corrupt Iraqi officials were looting Iraq’s assets and encouraging sectarian conflict between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. And Saddam’s unpredictable behavior was making neighboring countries nervous.
So I went with the iffy Intel to justify the war in Iraq. For a while things went as we expected. We overthrew the Iraqi regime easily. US defense contractors continued to grow providing gear and services to our troops. And my popularity soared.
But almost three years later conditions in Iraq are right back where they were before we attacked. Iraqis are again dying by the thousands at the hands of other Iraqis. Corrupt government officials are again stealing their nation’s wealth, and a goodly hunk or ours as well. Sectarian violence is on the rise and Iraq's growing political instability is again making Iraq’s neighbors nervous.
To be honest, things are actually worse than before we attacked. Foreign terrorists now use Iraq as their own terrorist military academy. And neighboring Turkey has been thrown back onto hair-trigger military alert as Iraqi Kurds steadily carve northern Iraq into own autonomous region, right on Turkey’s border.
Finally there’s the painful matter of US casualties, nearly 1800 so far in Iraq and new ones every day. On top of that American soldiers are still getting killed in Afghanistan as well.
Tonight, my fellow Americans, I want to say I am sorry. My intentions were good but I pursued them in a dishonest and demagogic manner, and it has led to failure. When I say my intentions were good, I mean good for everyone involved, the nation, the world and my presidency.
In purely practical terms I saw attacking Iraq was a positive three-fer; the world would be a safer place with Saddam out of power, the American economy would benefit from increased defense spending, and I would be more popular and effective as wartime president.
But, with the exception of America's prospering defense companies, none of that happened. The number of terrorist attacks worldwide tripled last year. Americans say they do not feel safer. And my approval ratings have gone right into the dumper.
I wish I could reverse course quickly and bring our troops home tomorrow, but of course, I can’t. I’m stuck in Iraq – or more precisely, we are stuck in Iraq – and will be for the foreseeable future. Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to warn me about what he called, “the Pottery House rule,” which is, “You break it, you own it.” Well Colin was right. I should have listened to man who, unlike I, had actually been to war.
What I can and will do is to begin immediately working with both parties in Congress to find an honorable resolution in Iraq. If that means leaving the job of democratizing Iraq half done, so be it. Ultimately it is up the Iraqi people to build their own society in their own ways. History will record we at least tried.
I also want you to understand that I hurt deeply for the families of soldiers killed in Iraq. I have two service-age daughters of my own and I can only imagine the pain those families must feel. I have gotten some criticism for not attending a single funeral for a soldier killed in either of these two wars. I wanted to but was advised against it by Karl Rove who said doing so would only focus public attention on the human cost of the war. He said that it was images of flag-draped coffins that eroded public support for the Vietnam War and therefore I should stay away from military funerals.
That was bad advice. I sent those kids over there where they gave their lives for the country and my policies. The least I could do is be there when they are buried. While I can’t attend every military funeral I will from now on at least attend those at Arlington. Finally, I can forgive the families killed and wounded soldiers if they blame, or even hate, me -- because I am to blame. It is a mind-numbing burden that I will take with me to my grave.
I said at the beginning that I had some announcements.
First, I have accepted the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, today. I requested the he resign because I believe he put US soldiers at risk by underestimating the size of force required to pacify post-war Iraq, and failed to properly equip the troops he sent into harms way. While I understand that these were honest mistakes, there were plenty of knowledgeable voices within the Defense Department that Secretary Rumsfeld should have heeded, but did not. That cost US soldiers their lives.
I have also accepted the resignation of Presidential advisor, Karl Rove. Karl has served me well over the years as a campaign strategist. I surely would not have attained this lofty office without his help and guidance. But as a policy maker Karl’s advice contributed to some of this administration’s biggest blunders -- and not just on Iraq, but domestic policies as well. In particular Karl’s advice on tax policies resulted in a windfall for the wealthy but only chicken feed for working Americans. Instead of invigorating the economy promised, all it did was create backbreaking deficits.
I wish Karl and his family all the best as they return to the private sector.
One final matter. I have asked the Attorney General to appoint Elliot Spitzer as an independent prosecutor to head a full-scale criminal probe into defense contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. No company or company official will be exempt. If fraud is found I expect it to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and, if found guilty, the people responsible sentenced to hard time in federal prison.
My fellow Americans I have just three years left in this office. During those three years I will work day and night to regain your trust, if not your respect. I just want you to know that I acknowledge and understand my mistakes. But, as a Christian, I believe in redemption. The first step to redemption is admit your flaws and then change course. I took that first step tonight. Tomorrow I will begin on that new course. I pray this time to be guided by my better angels and wiser counsel.
Thank you, and God Bless America.
Okay, Back to The Real World
Of course Bush will not say anything even close to that tonight. He should, but he won’t. Because the real, unscripted, unplugged, George W. Bush makes former Vice President Dan Quayle sound like a Rhodes scholar. No, tonight Bush will mouth words written for him by Dick Cheney and it will be Karl Rove's hand up his back making things happen for the camera. Because here's how George W. Bush sounds when he wings it.
Things Bush really said:
"They want the government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program."
"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."
"We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself."
"This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mential losses."
"I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."
"We ought to make the pie higher."
"I understand small business growth. I was one."
"Laura and I really don't realize how bright our children is sometimes until we get an objective analysis."
It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it."
"This has had full analyzation and has been looked at a lot."
"We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans."
“They have misunderestimated me on foreign policy.”
"I want you to know that farmers are not going to be secondary thoughts to a Bush administration. They will be in the forethought of our thinking."
"I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes."
“Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."
"A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic illness.
"I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial profiling, which is illiterate children."
"Drug therapies are replacing a lot of medicines as we used to know it."
"Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods."
"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead."
Yes, God bless America. And God help America.