Every President has a unique style of speaking and dealing with issues. Barack Obama recently gave his first State of the Union address. In listening to him speak about all the problems the country faces in 2010, it brought to mind the early days of the presidency of George Bush and his early speeches when he had to deal with the worst attack against the United States homeland in its history and the prospect of an uncertain future where the seemingly invulnerable United States was now facing the very real possibility of additional attacks. What if George Bush’s style was more like the style of Barack Obama? What if the two Presidents could be merged and you could create a new President by the name of George W.H. Obama. It is early 2002. Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States…
President George Obama: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: America this evening is a nation called to great responsibilities. And we are rising to meet them. In the normal course of events, Presidents come to this chamber to report on the state of the Union. My fellow citizens, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union -- and it is strong. We have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others on the ground; we have seen it in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion. We have seen the unfurling of flags, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers. We are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.
One year ago, I took office amid an underfunded military and a depleted and dispirited CIA. High level security agencies lacked the ability to share information. We were attacked in 1993 in New York’s World Trade Center and the previous administration handled it as if it were a bank robbery, rather than an act of war. We were attacked at Khobar Towers and the previous administration again looked at it as an isolated incident. 17 sailors were killed and 39 were injured when two members of Al-Qaeda blew up their small craft next to the USS Cole in Yemen -- President Clinton’s response? He said “Their tragic loss reminds us that even when America is not at war, the men and women of our military still risk their lives for peace. “ Not at war President Clinton? You may not have been at war with them but they were certainly at war with us. How many acts of terrorism would it take for the previous administration to wake up to the danger? Even when our soldiers suffered the humiliating indignity of being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, President Clinton continued to treat terrorist attacks as if they were no worse than a robbery at a local deli.
We had at least four known documented opportunities to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and the previous administration turned it down. As for Iraq, I know that many of you in this chamber are apprehensive about the possibility of going to war there. I have to remind our distinguished members of congress that if the previous administration did not show weakness and allow weapons inspectors to be thrown out of Iraq, we would not have lost years of intelligence gathering and we might not be in the position now where war is necessary.
In short, we inherited a disastrous mess from the previous administration. A year later, however, we have taken action and have corrected some of the horrific mistakes of the last eight years. We have removed the wall of separation between various intelligence gathering agencies that proved so ineffective in dealing with terrorism. We have taken terrorists off the battle field and not treated them as common criminals but as the enemy combatants that they are. We have housed them in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where the military can interrogate them and get the needed information to prevent future attacks. Our goal not being one to simply punish those caught committing acts of terrorism, but to prevent future attacks. We will use common sense intelligence gathering, not all of which that can be revealed for obvious reasons.
There is a fine line between trampling the rights of individual citizens and common sense surveillance. Let’s remember where the blame for this lies. We are reacting to the real threat posed by terrorists who are obsessed with destroying our country. The ineffective and irresponsible way that Washington has dealt with this problem over the last eight years has made certain procedures necessary in order to protect the country. Because of the reckless and irresponsible behavior of Washington, we are forced to allocate money to a brand new office – The Office of Homeland Security. We need to upgrade procedures and computer systems of our Intelligence gathering organizations and we will need to increase funding for the military to make up for the funding shortages of the last eight years. This is a tremendous expenditure that I would rather not have to make but thanks to the previous administration, I have no choice.
Because of all the money we now have to spend on security, coupled with the recession that we inherited, we will need to spend much of the budget surplus. Let me make this perfectly clear. The budget surplus was built on a house of cards. There was a new medium -- the internet -- that busted out during the previous administration. The Dot Com companies created a lot of investment in an unpredictable, untested environment. Their failure was inevitable. Their business practices were shabby and wasteful. Coupled with the tragic cuts to the military and to our intelligence services, the budget surplus of the previous administration was bound to end. You can only put paper clips and rubber bands on the military and the economy for so long before you need to go in and spend the money you need to really fix things, which my administration is prepared to do.
With all the problems that I inherited from the previous administration, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and say to my lovely wife Laura Michelle, “Oy Gevalt! What have I gotten myself into!” But for the good of the nation I will trudge on. For the nation needs me now more than ever. I am the President. I won the election. I am Commander-In-Chief, the leader of the free world. I am George Obama.
I n fact, the economic problems that we inherited are on the verge of being solved. I am going to cut taxes which will cause investment opportunities. I predict that due to these tax cuts the unemployment rate will drop by the mid 2000s to a miniscule 4.5% so that despite the increased spending on the security of our country, made necessary by the previous administration, we will still manage to revive the economy and keep our country safe at the same time.
Let us not forget what happened on September 11, 2001. It is my fear that as the decades go by and this horrific event fades into the past, we may be lured into the same false sense of security that got us in trouble in the first place. We weren’t attacked for anything we did, we were attached because of the values we espouse, and these are good values. They are not values to be ashamed of. They are values worth defending and we must be vigilant in defending them.
It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came -- where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.
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. Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice -- assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the United States of America.
Note: The second, last and next to last paragraphs are taken directly from speeches given by George W. Bush.