After George W. Bush was declared to have won the 2000 presidential election, I was indifferent. I liked Gore, not because he is a Democrat, but because I believe a president should be smart. That person should be smart enough to understand how and why America is a great country, and smart enough not to run that great country into the ground. Looking through the smoke screen of Bush's words, I see alarming actions, intentions and consequences. More and more Americans are seeing it now and maybe it is not too late to rescue what is left of our country, to work against the financial ruin and the destruction of civil liberties, to regain the respect of the rest of the world, and the moral high ground which we have abdicated. For these are our best weapons against terrorism: our superior ideals
, our confidence and our non-hypocritical self-respect as a nation, a self-respect arising from the knowledge that we have done right, that we have lived by those ideals. These are weapons that no terrorist can take away from us, but we can
surrender them as a reaction to our blind fear
, complacently, short-sightedly, and with untold consequences. Don't we owe it to those who died on September 11th to nullify that surrender?
Below are some quotes of past American presidents, contrasted with quotes derived from the actions of George W. Bush. Bush never said any of this. He doesn't have to.
Thomas Jefferson, 1801-9 (Democratic-Republican)
Jefferson: Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.
Bush: Where the press is FOX, and no one reads, I feel safe.
James Buchanan, 1857-61 (Democrat)
Buchanan: The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among free men.
Bush: Electronic ballot boxes are a good idea.
Abraham Lincoln, 1861-65 (Republican)
Lincoln: Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.
Bush: Government of Bush, by Cheney, for Halliburton, although the Earth may perish.
James Abram Garfield, 1881 (Republican)
Garfield: Ideas control the world.
Bush: I have no ideas.
Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-9 (Republican)
Roosevelt: Speak softly and carry a big stick.
Bush: Speak loudly and blindly thrash a stick.
Calvin Coolidge, 1923-29 (Republican)
Coolidge: Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.
Bush: Patriotism is easy to manipulate in America. It means you look out for terrorists while I am looting the country.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-45 (Democrat)
Roosevelt: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Bush: We have to fear.
Harry S Truman, 1945-53 (Democrat)
Truman: The buck stops here.
Bush: Spin the buck.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-69 (Democrat)
Johnson: Our purpose in Vietnam is to prevent the success of aggression. It is not conquest, it is not empire, it is not foreign bases, it is not domination.
Bush: Iraq is not Vietnam.
Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-89 (Republican)
Reagan: Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall.
Bush: Mr. Rumsfeld, bomb this wall.
Albert Gore, 2001- (Democrat)
Gore: George Bush taking credit for the wall coming down is like the rooster taking credit for the sun rising.
Bush: I can make the lights go out.
These quotes were originally written on the second anniversary of September 11th. The entire list of quotes may be read at americanviewsabroad.org/presidents.html.
Garrison Keillor in What Really Makes our Nation Strong:
....So America is not the secure fortress we grew up imaging. What protects us is what has protected us for 230 years: our magnificent isolation. After the disasters of the 20th century, Europe put nationalism aside and adopted civilization, but we have oceans on either side, so if the president turns out to be a shallow, jingoistic fool with a small, rigid agenda and little knowledge of the world, we expect to survive it somehow. Life goes on. It's hard for Americans to visualize the collapse of our country. It's as unthinkable as one's own demise.