For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2005
President Discusses Second Term Accomplishments and Priorities
Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center
President Bush's Second Term Accomplishments and Agenda
11:58 A.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all. Please be
seated. Earl, thanks for the warm introduction, thanks for the invitation,
and thanks for the award. And I appreciate your leadership of ALEC.
Good leaders make good decisions -- you made a good decision bringing this
convention to Texas. (Laughter.)
I'm pleased to be with the members of ALEC, and I want to thank you for
serving. And I want to thank your families for standing by you as you
serve. I appreciate you putting your community and your state and your
nation ahead of your self-interest. I also appreciate the philosophy you
espouse -- the philosophy rooted in free enterprise, accountability for
local officials at all levels, and your focus on results. I used to work
with some ALEC members when I was governor of the great state of Texas. I
see a couple of them sitting around here. I appreciate you all coming.
The thing I found about ALEC members is they're always willing to challenge
the status quo, to espouse what I call a compassionate conservative
philosophy; a philosophy that says government if necessary, but not
And so, thanks for having me, thanks for serving, and thanks for the
invitation. Laura sends her best. She is the -- (applause.) She's down
there in Crawford, and she is -- I got to tell you, I country -- she's a
great First Lady, is what she is, and a great wife. (Applause.)
I see the Speaker and Nadine Craddick from Midland, Texas. I think one of
the reasons why Laura is admired is because she never forgot where she came
from or how she was raised. She's proud of Midland, Texas; she's carrying
those Midland, Texas values to Washington, D.C. And she's a great mom,
great wife, and a great First Lady. (Applause.)
I want to thank -- thank you, Tommy Craddick, who is the Speaker of the
House of -- the Texas House is with us. And, Speaker, you're doing a great
job. Proud of your accomplishments, proud to be with you today.
(Applause.) I want to thank Duane Parde, the Executive Director. I want
to thank the members of the Texas Host Committee. I want to thank the
Congress folks who are here today. I see a couple of you out there, a
couple of Texas Congressmen; Feeney from Florida, and Culberson is here.
Thank you all for coming. I want to thank former Senator John Breaux from
Louisiana for joining us. John, thanks for being here. (Applause.)
I asked Breaux to help out on simplifying the tax code. It needs to be
simplified, and -- (applause.) Looking forward to seeing your report.
(Laughter.) But thanks for serving.
In Washington, we're working on two great goals; one, strengthening our
economy so people can realize their dreams, and defending this country.
And we're making good progress on both. This economy of ours is strong, it
is getting stronger, and the amazing thing is to remember where we have
come from. We went through a recession, and a stock market correction, and
a terrorist attack, and corporate scandals, and war. And in spite of that,
this economy is growing at some of the highest levels ever.
In 2003, growth was at the highest levels in nearly 20 years. (Applause.)
Our economy today is growing faster than any other major industrialized
nation in the world. (Applause.) We've added 2 million new jobs in the
last 12 months. More people work today than ever before in our nation's
history. (Applause.) Employment is up in 48 of the 50 states;
unemployment is down to 5 percent. That's below the average rate of the
1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong. More
people own a home today than ever before in our nation's history. Our tax
relief plan is working. (Applause.)
This week's report shows that both personal income and consumer spending
grew rapidly in June. Real disposable personal income has grown by about
12 percent since the end of 2000. You know, some have questioned in
Washington whether or not you can cut taxes and increase revenues for the
Treasury. Well, I don't know if you saw the report that came out --
recently came out. It showed that the federal deficit is projected to be
$94 billion less than previously expected. And that's because revenues are
catching up. And the reason revenues are catching up is because the tax
cuts stimulated economic vitality and growth all across the country.
(Applause.) I laid out a goal for the Congress to work with the
administration to cut the deficit in half by 2009, and we're ahead of pace
to realize that goal.
At the state level, there's some good news. You've seen the effects of the
growing economy on your revenues. State revenues in the first quarter of
2005 increased 11.7 percent from the prior year; 42 states have received
more in revenue than expected, which tells me that we need to work together
to make sure we're wise about how we spend that money. (Applause.)
Part of making sure that our economy continues to grow is to pass budget
resolutions that are fiscally sound. And that's what we did in Washington,
D.C. I submitted the first budget to propose a cut in non-security
discretionary spending since Ronald Reagan was the President. And I
appreciate the action in the United States House of Representatives and the
United States Senate to pass a budget resolution that adhered to those
principles. And now the appropriators must follow the guidelines of the
budget. To keep this economy growing, we must not over-spend at the
federal level. (Applause.)
I set out some priorities this winter, priorities to adhere to our
principle that the role of government is not to create wealth; the role of
government is to create an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit
can flourish, in which dreamers can be -- realize big dreams. And as they
do, they'll employ more of our fellow citizens.
I'm proud to report to you that we're making headway when it comes to legal
reform. We got too many junk lawsuits that make it hard for people to
create jobs in America. (Applause.) We passed class-action reform. We
passed bankruptcy reform -- hope we can get asbestos reform done. I tell
you one other thing we need to get done in Washington, D.C. this fall; for
the sake of good health care, to make sure health care is available and
affordable, Congress needs to pass medical liability reform and get it on
my desk. (Applause.)
I told the United States Congress this country needs to develop an energy
strategy. We should have done that 10 years ago. We should have developed
a strategy that would help us diversify away from foreign sources of oil.
And finally, after years of work, I'm proud to announce I'll be signing
next week a comprehensive energy bill. And it's a good piece of
legislation. It's a legislation that encourages domestic production. It's
a piece of legislation that encourages conservation. It's also a piece of
legislation that recognizes over time we must diversify away from our
dependence on hydrocarbons. That's why we're now promoting nuclear energy.
It makes sense for this country to use safe, clean nuclear power.
We got plenty of coal in America. We're now spending the money to make
sure we burn it wisely, so that we can protect our environment. In this
bill, we've got good clean coal technology research and development. I
believe that the best way to end our dependence on foreign sources of
energy is to figure out how to use different kind of automobiles. And I
believe hydrogen power is going to be the source of power that will allow
us to diversify over time. And this bill is good about promoting research
and development for hydrogen automobiles.
Some of you from the Midwest may remember we had a problem with our
electricity grid. This is a bill that modernizes the electricity grid and
gets rid of old laws that prevent utilities from being able to raise money
efficiently in the capital market. This is a good piece of legislation.
It's a legislation that sets us on our own for independence from foreign
sources of oil. I'm proud to sign it next week in New Mexico, and I want
to thank the members of the House and the Senate for getting it done.
Congress recently passed the patient safety bill which improves health care
by reducing medical errors. Congress passed the highway bill. We had a
little problem getting that bill done over the last couple of years because
we had a disagreement about the right number. I felt that the number ought
to be fiscally -- a fiscally responsible number. We worked hard with
members of the Senate and the House. I'll be proud to sign a fiscally
responsible highway bill next Wednesday in the state of Illinois.
Finally, I campaigned across this country telling people I believe in free
trade and fair trade. I hope we all understand the importance of opening
up markets for U.S. products. If you're good at something, you ought to be
selling those products, not only here at home, but around the world. And
we're really good at certain things. We're great at growing crops, for
example. We're good at growing soybeans, and therefore, it seems to make
sense that the administration ought to be working hard to opening up
markets for our soybean growers and our manufacturers and our entrepreneurs
and our high-tech folks.
We had a problem in our hemisphere about trade. I don't know if you
realize it or not, but most of the goods from Central America came into
this country duty-free. Yet 80 percent of our goods were taxed through
tariffs in Central American countries. That didn't seem to make sense to
me; it certainly wasn't fair. All I say to people is you treat us the way
we treat you. If your goods can come into our markets duty-free, our goods
ought to be able to go into your markets duty-free.
And that's the spirit of the CAFTA legislation that I signed yesterday. It
recognized that free trade must be fair trade. And the piece of
legislation I signed is going to help people find jobs here in America.
It's going to make it easier for us to sell our products to 44 million
But CAFTA was more than a trade bill; CAFTA was a statement about democracy
in our own neighborhood. We entered into a pact, a long-term pact with new
democracies, countries that not all that long ago were wrestling with civil
strife and dictatorships. These young democracies turned to America, and
said, we want to be allied with you through an economic trade pact. And by
passing that bill, the United States of America made a clear statement to
those young democracies that we stand with you; we will help you develop
free markets and free societies; we will help you stand as you struggle to
build your democracy. It's in our national interest that democracy prevail
in our neighborhood. (Applause.)
So we got some stuff done, and I want to thank you all for your support in
this legislation. I also want to thank you for standing strong when it
comes to insisting that there be high standards and accountability in our
public school systems.
I was proud to sign the No Child Left Behind Act. It's what I call
challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you do not have high
standards and if you do not measure, people just simply get shuffled
through the system. That's not what we believe. And I told you earlier I
was proud of ALEC because of your results-oriented nature. You believe in
I believe in local control of schools and that's inherent in the No Child
Left Behind Act. It says: You measure; you court your -- chart your
course to excellence. But I also believe in results, and when we spend
money at the federal level, I expect people who are spending that money to
show the taxpayers results. And that's why we're measuring. That's why we
want to know whether a child can read and write and add and subtract. It's
not too much to ask. You shouldn't be afraid to ask that question to your
local educators and school boards. You ought to say, listen, we trust you,
we believe in you, we support you, but why don't you show us. See, you
can't correct a problem until you diagnose a problem.
Inherent in the No Child Left Behind Act is our belief that we've got to
diagnose problems before you can solve problems. And by the way, it's
working. There's an achievement gap in America. We've got too many young
African American kids who aren't reading at the proper grade level,
relative to Anglo kids. But because of the No Child Left Behind Act, and
because of good teachers, and because of good leadership at the state
level, that achievement gap is narrowing and America is better off for it.
I want to thank you for your support of the faith-based and community
initiatives. We understand that government -- government can't love.
Government can pass law; government can hand out money; but government
cannot put heart -- hope in a person's heart or a sense of purpose in a
person's life. That's done when a loving citizen puts their arm around
somebody who hurts and says, how can I help you? What can I do to make
your life better? The true strength of America lies in the hearts and
souls of our fellow citizens. That's our strength. Our strength can be
found -- (applause.) Our strength can be found in the armies of compassion
which exist all across America.
ALEC understands that the best way to bring hope into the dark corners of
our country, the best way to bring optimism into people's lives is to stand
squarely on -- side-by-side with faith-based organizations and
community-based organizations whose members have heard that call to love a
neighbor just like you'd like to love -- be loved yourself.
At the federal level, we'll continue to open up federal money for grant
purposes for faith-based programs. And at the same time, we will not allow
bureaucracies to say to a faith-based program, you can't practice your
faith. We're saving lives in America because we're unleashing the great
compassion of America, the people of America, and the people whose hearts
are right. I'm honored to be standing with good folks who understand that
we can save America, one heart, one soul, and one conscience at a time. So
I want to thank you for your support of the faith-based initiatives.
I hope Congress gets a good rest because they got a lot of work to do when
they get back. The Senate has got work to do, starting with the
confirmation of a fine man, Judge John Roberts. (Applause.) John Roberts
is highly qualified. He's one of the best appellate attorneys in the
United States. He has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court. I
nominated him to the D.C. District Court, and he was approved by unanimous
consent in the United States Senate. That means nobody objected. I spent
time with John Roberts. He's a good family man. He has got a good way
about him, a good modest fellow who is plenty bright. But most
importantly, John Roberts is a man who will interpret the law -- interpret
the law based upon the United States Constitution, and he will not
legislate from the bench. (Applause.)
The Senate needs to conduct this hearing in a way that brings credit to the
Senate. They need to have a good, honest debate about Judge Roberts. But
I hope it's done in a way that brings dignity to the process. And they
must be deliberate, but they also must hear this call: Roberts needs to
get his hearing done and the confirmation completed so he can be seated
before the Supreme Court reconvenes in early October. (Applause.)
Congress needs to continue debating Social Security. Let me tell you about
what I think my job description is. I think my job is to confront
problems, not pass them on to future Presidents and future Congresses.
(Applause.) I know that's what the American people expect of their
leaders. And I see a problem in Social Security. I'm part of the problem
-- I'm fixing to retire. (Laughter.) Matter of fact, my retirement age is
in 2008; that's when I'm eligible for Social Security. It's a convenient
year. (Laughter.) And I'm not the only one. There's a lot of us who are
eligible to retire. We're called the baby boomers. There's about 40
million people today receiving Social Security. By the time the baby
boomers like me get completely retired, there will be about 75 million. In
other words, a lot -- there's a lot of us. And we're living longer than
previous generations. Matter of fact, I think I'm going to ride the old
mountain bike this afternoon in Crawford to make sure I live longer.
(Laughter.) If I can survive the heat.
We've been promised greater benefits than the previous generation. People
went around the country saying, vote for me, I'll increase your Social
Security benefits. And sure enough, that's one of the promises that
Congress kept. You got a lot of people living longer, getting greater
benefits, with fewer people paying in the system. In the early '50s, there
was about 16 workers to every beneficiary. Today, there's 3.3 workers for
every beneficiary. Soon there's going to be two workers for every
beneficiary. If you look at the cash flow analysis, you'll find that the
system goes red in 2017.
And by the way, it is a pay-as-you-go system. Some people think it's a
trust fund. The trust fund concept means we take your money, we hold it
and we give it back to you. No, this isn't the way it is. It is a
pay-as-you-go -- you pay, we go ahead and spend. (Laughter.) You pay, we
pay -- you pay your payroll taxes, and we go ahead and pay for the
benefits. And with money left over, we fund federal programs. And all
that's left is a file cabinet full of IOUs. Somebody told me that, and I
went to West Virginia to see it for myself and, sure enough, it's still
there -- paper, promises. No, the system in 2017, goes in the red. In
2042, it's bankrupt.
So my first question to members of Congress is, how can you go back to your
districts, when you look at the facts, and stand up in front of young
workers and look them in the eye and say, man, the future is bright for
you, knowing full well somebody is going to be paying payroll taxes into
the system that's going broke? I certainly can't do that. And that's why
I stood up in front of the Congress and said, we've got a problem, let's
work together to fix it -- and have gone around the country describing to
the people the nature of the problem. The system is going broke is what is
Secondly, I've done something most Presidents haven't done and that is put
out some solutions. First of all, if you were born prior to 1950, nothing
is going to change for you, and that's important for those of you who are
interested in the subject to remind your mothers and fathers, or some of
the elderly in your districts. Nothing changes. I understand older people
don't like change, and therefore, when they hear, Social Security reform,
it makes them nervous. As a matter of fact, some folks who don't want to
see any Social Security reform at all have used that leverage -- they go
into people's districts and say, George W. is going to take your check
away. It's not going to happen. There's plenty of money for the senior
It's the younger workers who are coming up who better be paying attention
to this issue. It's the younger folks who are coming up who are going to
have to pay for people like me who are going to live longer and get more
benefits than the previous generation. And so I said, why don't we go
ahead and come up with a system that says you're going to get your benefits
if you're a poor person based upon wage increases, and if you're a wealthy
person, you get your benefits that increase based upon the cost of living
increases, and you scale it in between? And that solution -- that
solution, or that suggestion nearly solves all of the permanency problems
in Social Security.
Listen, if you're a younger -- somebody told me about a survey about the
younger folks said they're more likely to see a UFO than a Social Security
check. (Laughter.) Well, if you believe that, it seems like it makes
sense to have a system that if you're doing all right, it increases your
benefits based upon cost of living. That means you're going to get a
check, and it's going to be at least increasing at the rate of cost of
We've got a lot of politics in Washington these days, though. People don't
want to discuss the idea. It's kind of zero-sum up there when it comes to
big issues. By the way, as we're talking about how to make the system
permanently fixed, seems like to me now is the time to make sure it turns
out to be a better deal for younger workers, too. I strongly believe that
younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put
it in a personal savings account, so they can watch their money grow at a
rate greater than that which the government can grow their money, a
personal account they call their own, a personal account the government
cannot spend, a personal account they can pass on to whomever they want.
We believe in ownership. We understand that the more people that own their
home, or own their own business, or own and manage their own health care
account, or own and manage their own retirement account, the more people
that do that the better off America is. If you own something, you have a
vital stake in the future of this country. Now is the time to permanently
fix Social Security, and now is the time to trust people with their own
money, to give people a chance to build an asset base they call their own.
I told you about old Johnny Breaux and his tax reform. When Congress gets
back, I think they ought to do two things. One, I think they ought to make
the tax cuts we passed permanent. (Applause.) And that includes getting
rid of the death tax forever. (Applause.) And as I mentioned, I'm looking
forward to -- to the tax simplification ideas. It's not going to be easy,
but it's necessary. And John is a good man, and he'll work with his fellow
citizens on that panel, both Republicans and Democrats, to propose some
interesting ideas for the administration and Congress to look at. It's
important. It's a big idea, and it's a necessary idea.
I'll tell you another big idea. We've got to do something about our
immigration laws. (Applause.) Our obligation is to secure the borders.
We've got to make sure that -- (applause) -- we've got to make sure that we
have the resources and technologies available for our Border Patrol agents.
We've got to make sure we have a focused strategy to prevent people,
goods, drugs, whatever, being smuggled in this country. That's one of our
duties. And I meet with Chertoff quite frequently -- he's the head of the
Homeland Security. We do talk about how best to modernize the border
security. One way to protect this border is to recognize that people are
sneaking in here to work. And I believe that if you are a willing employer
-- in other words, if you have somebody looking for work and you can't find
an American, there ought to be a legal way -- not an illegal way -- a legal
way for you to be able to employ that person.
Listen, we'd rather have people coming in with a card that said, I'm a
legal worker, than trying to sneak across the border. And we've got people
being smuggled across -- a whole smuggling network, and a network of
forgers and document falsifiers that are trying to beat the system. It
seems rational to me that says there ought to be a way to let somebody come
and do jobs Americans won't do, on a temporary basis.
I've heard all kinds of talk about amnesty. I'm against amnesty. I think
amnesty would be a mistake. But I do think it would be good to make sure
-- (applause) -- but I do think it's good to make sure our employers who
are looking for workers are able to find people who are willing to do the
jobs they have in a legal way. I'd rather our Border Patrol agents be
looking for terrorists and drugs and guns being smuggled across our border,
and people here -- coming here to work have a legal way to do so on a
So immigration reform is going to be an interesting subject when we get
back to Washington, D.C. I'm looking forward to the topic. I also want to
talk to you about national security. Make no mistake about it, we are at
war. We're at war with an enemy that attacked us on September the 11th,
2001. We're at war against an enemy that, since that day, has continued to
kill. They have killed in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca
and Riyadh and Bali and London and elsewhere.
These are ideologues. These people have an ideology. It's really
different from ours. We believe in human rights and human dignity and
minority rights and rights for women and rights to worship freely. That's
what we believe. We believe in a lot of rights for people. These killers
don't. They have a narrow view of life. They have taken a great religion
and converted it to their own vision. They have goals; they want to drive
us out of parts of the world. They want the free world to retreat so they
can topple governments. They want to be able to do in parts of the world
that which they did in Afghanistan -- take over a government; impose their
negative, dark vision on people.
Remember what life was like in Afghanistan. It's hard for the Western mind
to even comprehend what life was like for people in Afghanistan, but this
is a society in which young girls couldn't go to school. And if you
objected to their point of view, you were taken into the public square and
whipped, or sometimes assassinated. There was no freedom. The only people
that were free were the tyrants and the dictators, those who imposed their
view of the world. This is -- this is their vision, and they would like --
they would like to see that vision spread. Make no mistake about it, this
is a war against people who profess an ideology, and they use terror as a
means to achieve their objectives.
After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people that
the United States of America will not wait to be attacked again. We will
take the fight to the enemy, and we will defend our freedom. (Applause.)
To win this war on terror, we will use all elements of national power. We
will use our military. For those of you who have got loved ones in the
military, I want to thank you -- tell them to thank -- you thank them for
me, on behalf of a grateful nation.
We'll use our diplomatic corps. In other words, we're working with friends
and allies. Part of winning this war on terror is to remind others of
what's at stake, and to work diplomatically to get people to keep pressure
on the enemy. We've got our Treasury Department working with our friends
and allies to cut off money. One way to defeat the enemy is deny them
access to money. And when we find money being spent illegally, or funding
these terrorist organizations that funnel money to these killers, we do
something about it.
We're beefing up our intelligence here in America. We want to make sure
that the FBI and CIA can share intelligence. We want to make sure that we
not only get the best intelligence, we analyze it properly, and we share it
with our friends and allies and vice versa.
See, it's a different kind of war. In the old days you'd have armies that
were funded by states. You knew where they were, you could trace them.
This war is against killers who hide, and then they show up and kill
innocent life, and then they retreat. And so you've got to have good
intelligence in order to defeat them. We're working hard to coordinate law
enforcement around the world. In other words, we're using all assets of
this great nation in order to defeat this enemy.
We're making progress in defending the homeland. We've more than tripled
homeland -- funding for the homeland security since 2001. I'm sure some of
you, in your states and local communities, have seen some of that money
come down to help our first responders be trained and to be equipped. I'm
proud to report that the House of Representatives and the Senate renewed
parts of the Patriot Act, permanently, and a small part of the Patriot Act
will be sunsetted.
This is an important piece of legislation. It was passed overwhelmingly
right after September the 11th, and it's been used effectively by our
government. You see, the Patriot Act did several things. One, it allowed
law enforcement to share intelligence with the enforcement side of their
operations. The FBI couldn't talk to each other before the Patriot Act.
You couldn't have your intelligence division sharing information with your
law enforcement division. It didn't make any sense, but that's the way it
was. And the Patriot Act ended that. It tore down walls. It allows parts
of our government to share information with one another.
The Patriot Act, in essence, gave our terror fighters the same tools that
our government has given our drug fighters. The Patriot Act enables us to
more effectively defend the homeland, and it does not usurp your rights
under the Constitution. Every tool we use has got the scrutiny within the
guidelines of the Constitution. The Patriot Act is important. I'm looking
forward to the House and the Senate to reconcile their differences and get
a Patriot Act to my desk as soon as possible. Our law enforcement
officials must have the tools to protect the United States of America.
We're making progress here at home. We've broken up terrorist cells and --
in America. We've broken up networks, financing networks in America, in
places like California, Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, New
Jersey, Virginia, Florida and other states. There are a lot of people
working hard on our citizens' behalf to protect this homeland. The best
way to protect the homeland, however, is to stay on the offense, is to
bring the enemy to justice before they come to our shores. And that's
precisely the second part of our strategy. We're fighting the enemy in
Afghanistan; we're fighting them in Iraq; we're defeating them there so we
do not have to face them here. And our troops are doing great work.
Iraq is the latest battlefield in the war on terror. Foreign fighters are
going into Iraq to fight coalition troops for a reason: They understand
the stakes. A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will deal a
serious blow to their hateful ideology. A democracy in the heart of the
Middle East will be a major blow to their desire to spread an ideology
that's hateful and dark and negative.
The violence in recent days in Iraq is a grim reminder of the enemies we
face. These terrorists and insurgents will use brutal tactics because
they're trying to shake the will of the United States of America. They
want us to retreat. They want us, in our compassion for the innocent, to
say we're through. That's what they want. They will fail. They do not
understand the character and the strength of the United States of America.
They do not understand our desire to protect ourselves, to protect our
friends, protect our allies, and to spread freedom around the world.
Our men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and in
this war on terror have died in a noble cause, in a selfless cause. Their
families can know that American citizens pray for them. And the families
can know that we will honor their loved one's sacrifice by completing the
mission, by laying the foundations for peace for generations to come.
We have a strategy for success in Iraq. On the one hand, we've got a
military strategy, and we'll continue to hunt down the terrorists, as we
train Iraqi forces so they can defend their own country. As Iraqis stand
up, Americans and coalition forces will stand down. And we're making
progress. More and more Iraqi units are more and more capable of defending
You know, my -- I hear all the time, well, when are you bringing the troops
home? And my answer to you is, soon as possible, but not before the
mission is complete. Why would -- why -- why would a Commander-in-Chief --
(applause) -- it makes no sense for the Commander-in-Chief to put out a
timetable. We're at war. We're facing an enemy that is ruthless. And if
we put out a timetable, the enemy would adjust their tactics.
The timetable is this -- and you can tell your Guard troops and reserve
troops and mothers and dads of those serving -- the timetable depends on
our ability to train the Iraqis, to get the Iraqis ready to fight. And
then our troops are coming home with the honor they have earned.
At the same time we're helping that country defend itself and training its
troops, there's a political track. A democracy is beginning to grow. I
don't know about you, but when those 8 million-plus Iraqis went to the
polls, it was an amazing moment. You know, I believe this, and at the
heart of much of my policy is this firm belief -- that freedom is the gift
of an Almighty to every person in this world. It doesn't matter who you
are. Embedded in your soul is the deep desire to live in freedom. That's
what I believe. And if you believe that, then you shouldn't be all that
surprised when, if given a chance, 8 million-plus people, in defiance of
car bombers and killers and terrorists, said loud and clear to the world:
We want to be free. We want to live in a democracy. We want a government
that listens to us and doesn't tell us what to do. (Applause.)
And it's that movement toward freedom that frightens the enemy. It's that
movement toward a free society in which people of different religious
persuasions can live in peace together. It scares -- it's that movement
that says, women have got equal rights with men that frightens these
But that movement is going forward. They're in the process now of arguing
about a constitution. I don't know if you've read our American history
much, about when we were writing our Constitution. You know, if there had
been that much scrutiny when we were writing our Constitution as has been
given to their -- scrutiny when they're writing their constitution, a lot
of people would have said it's never going to get written. It was not an
easy deal for our forefathers, our founders to get consensus on our
Constitution. But nevertheless, they worked hard and came up with a great
That's what the Iraqis are doing. They're coming up with a doctrine that
will survive the years so that self-government and freedom prevail. And
then they'll be voting on the document in October. And then they'll elect
a permanent government in November. Democracy is moving forward, and
that's part of laying the foundation for peace.
We have done this type of work before in our nation. We have fought evil
before. We have been through ideological struggles. Your dads and
granddads fought against the Nazis and fought against the Japanese. It was
an ideological struggle against an enemy that was ruthless. And we
prevailed. We prevailed in more ways than one. We prevailed militarily,
but we also helped spread democracy. We laid that foundation for peace for
the next generation coming up.
Do you know that one of my best friends in the international community is
the Prime Minister of Japan? Isn't that interesting? The Prime Minister
of Japan, Prime Minister Koizumi, and I work together on North Korea and
Iraq, and Afghanistan. He's an ally. He's a good buddy. It wasn't all
that long ago that my dad and your dads and granddads were at war with the
Japanese in a brutal war. They were the enemy. But something happened in
between, something other than a military victory happened in between. And
what happened was, was that Japan embraced a democracy. It wasn't an
American democracy; it was a Japanese democracy. But it was a democracy.
And it turns out if you look at history, democracies are peaceful nations.
The spread of democracy yields peace. What you're seeing on your TV
screens today is the work of brave soldiers and diplomats and coalition
partners, spreading democracy, defeating a hateful ideology with an
ideology of hope, an ideology that has got a clear vision for a better
tomorrow for all its citizens. We've seen this work before, and we have
prevailed because we have been steadfast and true to our beliefs.
And we'll prevail again. This nation will be steadfast. This nation will
be strong. And this nation, like other generations before us, will make
sacrifices necessary to lay the foundation for peace for generations to
come. We got a big task in Washington, D.C., and that's to remember the
stakes of the war on terror, and to do our duty, and to be true to the
principles of the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
I want to thank you for letting me come here today. May God bless you all,
and may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)
END 12:45 P.M. CDT