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Quotational Therapy: Part 34 -- President Bush On The War On Terror.

President George W. Bush, Addressing Congress, September 20, 2001-

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars -- but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war -- but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks -- but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack....

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies....

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime....

This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom....

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom -- the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time -- now depends on us. Our nation -- this generation -- will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail....

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

Read the entire thing here.

Some of President Bush's critics really need to go back and think about this speech (and many others made in the aftermath of September 11).

One common criticism of the President from the left is that Bush did not prepare the American people for a long haul sacrifice in the war on terror. Another is that President Bush made up the whole "freedom" thing only after the U.S. found no warehouses full of nuclear warheads and biological agents in downtown Baghdad. Another is that Bush is too unilateral and disdains the idea of help from other countries.

Each of these criticisms fails to pass the smell test.

Within a week of 9/11, President Bush articulated: 1) that fighting terrorism would be unlike any war in our modern history; 2) that freedom was at war with fear; 3) that we need-- and seek-- the help of our friends and allies around the globe.

And make no mistake, President Bush set the tone for the long-term war against terrorism. Imagine President Gore trying to give that speech. President Bush, for all of the flak he takes for bumbling over his words, has given some of the best presidential speeches in modern American history, and not just right after September 11, 2001, either.

On Comedy Central, argue that Bush has given some of the best presidential speeches in modern American history, and you'll be met with derision and giggles. But go back and listen to some of them. Read them. Unlike some, who pontificate at any given chance, President Bush knows when to be folksy and monosyllabic, when to be technical and precise, when to be focused and succinct, and when to be soaring and profound.

After some of his soaring and profound speeches, President Bush often gets credit from media skeptics, temporarily, for delivering rhetorical greatness. But that impression never lasts, drowned out by the unimportant, day-to-day minutiae about which Washington is so obsessed.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Hayek On Social Security.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy every Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 August 2005 11:07 AM


Bush always has been misunderestimated as a speaker - it was always one of his strengths.

I was always appalled at how the press called John Kerry such a devastating and awesome debater and speaker. He was neither, he was merely a guy who sounded smarter than he really was and loved the sound of his own voice.

Plus, what good are good speaking skills, if they are are put into the service of incredibly dumb ideas like a 'global test' for US policies?

Posted by: Am I A Pundit Now? at August 8, 2005 11:32 AM

George W. is a Texan for goodness sake!... He has a Texas accent... What ammazes me is I don't hear anyone calling Jesse Jackson "dumb" or a bad speaker? Have a good listen to his accent!... I can barely understand a thing he says! ...Yet Jesse Jackson is considered a great speaker by many!!!???

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at August 9, 2005 07:24 AM