George W. Bush on Principles & Values
President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)
KERRY: Once again, Bush is misleading America. I've actually passed 56 individual bills that I've personally written and, in addition to that, and not always under my name, there are amendments on certain bills. But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record, I helped write- I did write, I was one of the original authors of the early childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in the middle of the 1990s. And I'm very proud of that. So Bush's wrong.
BUSH: On the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I'll stand by those decisions because I think they're right. When they ask about the mistakes, that's what they're talking about. They're trying to say, "Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?" And the answer is absolutely not. It's a right decision. On the tax cut, it's a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV. But history will look back, and I'm fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility.
The Bush campaign billed his visit to Beaverton as a chance for ordinary citizens to pose questions to the president. But this was no town hall appearance before a cross-section of citizens. Bush-Cheney re-election headquarters had instructed Oregon campaign officials to distribute tickets, so the school gymnasium was filled last Friday with 2,000 passionate Bush backers.
Kerry's more open approach carries political risks. Sometimes protesters show up and try to disrupt his appearances. Such dissent is never a problem for Bush. When the time came to "Ask President Bush" Friday, none of his 16 questioners challenged him on his policies. Several did not ask questions at all, but simply voiced support.
Bush's parents had not told him how serious her condition was. They were afraid he might tell her. When they drove to his school to tell him she had died, George, in the second grade, spotted them and thought he saw Robin. "I got to the car still thinking Robin was there," Bush said later, "but of course, she was not."
Barbara Bush said in her memoirs, "He asked a lot of questions and couldn't understand why we had known for a long time." George felt an obligation to comfort his mother, who leaned on her son for support while her husband traveled. He would joke and laugh and make her feel better. The loss gave him a sense of how fleeting and arbitrary life can be, contributing to his lighthearted approach. Bush was bothered by the fact that, outside their family, no one mentioned Robin and her death. As he would later in life, Bush liked to confront issues.
On paper, Richard Nixon was one of the smartest presidents, with an IQ of 143, yet he orchestrated the Watergate cover-up, leading to his resignation. Bush had little interest in learning for its own sake. He was goal oriented and prized actions over words. Only if learning helped him to make a decision was he interested. What he wanted, he would say in rare reflective moments, was to "get as much out of life as possible and to do as much as possible." When he retires someday to his ranch, he has said, "I want to turn to my wife and say, My dance card was full. I lived life to the fullest."
In Skull & Bones' house were faded portraits of venerable Bonesmen-Rockefellers, Harrimans, Tafts, Whitneys, and Bushes-posing with skull and crossbones. Members called themselves "good men," a term Bush would use to describe people he trusted and admired.
Bush drank at fraternity parties and engaged in pranks. "George was a fraternity guy, but he wasn't Belushi in Animal House," recalled Calvin Hill, a DKE with Bush. He was a goodtime guy. But he wasn't the guy hugging the commode at the end of the day.
"I think he was far less wild than the media portrays it," his Skull and Bones friend Donald Etra said. "He drank but not to excess. I never saw any drugs."
The entire performance was a manifestation of Bush's intense distaste for acting and pretense. When responding to loaded questions from reporters or an unfair charge by Gore, Bush's honesty impelled him to signal, if ever so subtly, what he really thought. The smirk was not a signal of arrogance but rather an effort to convey his true feelings: that he was participating in a charade. When emerging from sessions with political types, he would roll his eyes and grouse under his breath about the "B.S." meeting he had just had. In debates with Gore, he could not very well say, "That's B.S.," so he would smirk.
"He's a bad actor, a bad pretender," an aide said. "What you see is what you get.. A real actor would not show that."
ANALYSIS: This Bush campaign�ad is literally accurate, but artfully worded to avoid tipping off viewers to the real controversy over the Peterson bill Kerry opposed-the legal right to abortion. And when the ad faults Kerry for missing a�vote to fund our�troops, it leaves out the fact that the bill passed�both houses of Congress without a single vote against it. The ad is true enough when it says�Kerry has missed the great majority of Senate votes while campaigning for President. But�it�twists the facts in its descriptions of the bills it cites�to support its�argument�that Kerry's priorities are misplaced.�
From time to time, I fired off flares, hoping to throw a bit of light-if not a warning-on where they were headed. I did so by raising these matters in my regular Find Law column. For one such column, in which I discussed the potential of impeachment if the Bush administration had intentionally manipulated government intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction an editor at Salon, which reprinted the column, used the title "Worse than Watergate"-drawing his own conclusion from the material. I could not deny that it describes perfectly what I have to say in more ways than I had anticipated.
But the lines that divided the two groups [of voters] were not mainly lines of race, nor class, but of family status and religious observance. Bush's strongest supporters were the people most outraged by Clinton's misconduct. What they wanted most from him was simple: They wanted him not to be Clinton. They were pretty much indifferent to everything in his program except the promise to lay off the interns. That was not much of a mandate to govern.
Well, if the country wanted an un-Clinton administration, they had hired the right man. Was Clinton famously unpunctual? Bush was always on time. Were the Clintons morally slack? Bush opened every cabinet meeting with a prayer.
I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America�s leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.
We have a place, all of us, in a long story, a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the American story, a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.
The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise: that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born. Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.
What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort, to defend needed reforms against easy attacks, to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.
Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.
�He�d just come up [to the big leagues] and gotten a quick look,� Bush recalled painfully. In 25 games, Sosa was batting a meager .238. Who could have predicted then that Sosa would become a superstar, slamming 66 homers for the Chicago Cubs in 1998 and dramatically dueling Mark McGwire for the all-time season home run record?
The team managers recommended the deal and he approved it, Bush remembered. �We were coming down the stretch, chasing Oakland. We were either going to kick in and stay or fade.� The Rangers faded. Oakland won the pennant and the World Series. �It just didn�t work out. Sosa just didn�t kick in.�
This is the fun stuff to talk about, I noted. �Politics is not, not fun,� Bush instantly replied.
Prosperity is not a given. Governments don�t create wealth. Wealth is created by Americans -- by creativity and enterprise and risk-taking. But government can create an environment where businesses and entrepreneurs and families can dream and flourish.
The 2000 election was the messiest and most nerve-racking in 125 years. Bush's reinvention of the Republican Party did not quite work. He lost the popular vote by half a million ballots and had to be carried over the finish line by the Supreme Court.
In the nineteenth century, three presidents received fewer votes than their main opponent. But it has been a long time since it last happened, and in the meantime, the country's attitudes toward voting and democracy have changed dramatically. Bush arrived in office politically crippled.
Many of Bush�s early proposals fit this approach, [such as his support for Charitable Choice], AmeriCorps, and character education in schools. Bush�s inaugural address was full of words like �civility,� �responsibility� and �community.�
Communitarians say Bush has yet to embrace some of their other favorite ideas: workplace flexibility, limits on urban sprawl, campaign finance reform, and having the wealthy pay more for certain government benefits.
We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice & opportunity. I know this is in our reach, because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves, who creates us equal in his image. And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
[Bush concluded by echoing his nomination speech theme], again hitting Gore on the Clinton-Gore administration�s record on Medicare and Social Security: �On all the big issues facing this country, our message on November 7 will be loud and clear: You�ve had your chance. You have not led, and we will.�
My generation tested limits -- and our country, in some ways, is better for it. Women are now treated more equally. Racial progress has been steady, if still too slow. We are learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back. At times, we lost our way. But we are coming home.
Bush�s address was his latest attempt to say �I will be different� as he outlined a series of steps that he said would help de-escalate tensions, encourage compromise, and clean up some of the pork-barrel spending practices that have soured the public on politicians from both sides.
Bush explicitly promises to change the way Washington does business by reaching out to Democrats, sharing credit, and seeking results over partisan gains. But he also promises to restore a sense of moral purpose to the presidency.
Bush became a cheerleader at the all-boys school. He would wield a megaphone at football games and make barbed remarks about spectators and players. The show that he and his cohorts put on overshadowed the game, causing some grumbling. But the school paper came to his defense. "George's gang has done a commendable job, and now is not the time to throw a wet blanket over cheerleading," an editorial said. "School spirit had never been higher," Johnson said.
It goes without saying that it would be best to have neither a scandal nor something far worse. There is, however, only one antidote: an end to the obsessive, unjustified, and disproportionate secrecy that defines the Bush-Cheney White House.
My hope along the way is not to scandalmonger, but rather to spray as much antiscandal disinfectant-called light-as I possibly can.
Clinton had brought in eccentrics, some of them, perhaps, but also powerful intelligences, open to new ideas. The country could trust the Bush administration not to cheat or lie. But could the administration cope with an unprecedented problem? That might be rather dicier.
The reason for the bias toward the ordinary was Richard Darman, the most conspicuously brilliant person in Bush 41's White House. In the 1992 election, he attacked Bush 41 himself. And the lesson the younger Bush took from that experience was: no new Darmans.
The first is ideological. Bush, they say, is a president beholden to something they call the radical right wing. This suffers from an important defect: It's just wrong. Bush is indeed a generally conservative president, and those who oppose conservatism are right to oppose him. But he is nothing like a pure ideologue.
The second explanation for the rising anger against Bush focuses not on his policies but his politics-and especially on his supposedly uniquely ruthless campaign methods. This also falls a little short of the truth. Bush virtually never speaks disrespectfully of the Democratic Party and he rarely criticizes his opponents at all. Bush is certainly a competitive politician, and yes, he prefers to win rather than lose. But that's politics-and by the standards of the recent past, gentle politics.
BUSH: It requires a clear vision, willingness to stand by our friends, and the credibility for people, both friend and foe, to understand when America says something, we mean it.
GORE: I see a future when the world is at peace, with the United States of America promoting the values of democracy and human rights and freedom around the world. What can I bring to that challenge? I volunteered and went to Vietnam. In the House of Representatives, I served on the House Intelligence Committee. When I went to the United States Senate, I asked for an assignment to the Armed Services Committee. I was one of only 10 Democrats, along with Senator Joe Lieberman, to support Governor Bush�s dad in the Persian Gulf War resolution. And for the last eight years, I�ve served on the National Security Council.
GORE: Sometimes people who have great dreams, as young people do, are apt to stay at arm�s length from the political process because they think if they invest their hopes, they�re going to be disappointed. But thank goodness we�ve always had enough people who have been willing to push past the fear of a broken heart and become deeply involved in forming a more perfect union. We�ve got to address one of the biggest threats to our democracy: the current campaign financing system. I will make the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill the very first measure that I send to the Congress as president.
BUSH: A lot of people are tired of the bitterness in Washington. There are a lot of young folks saying, you know, �Why do I want to be involved with this mess?� And what I think needs to happen is to set aside the partisan differences and set an agenda that will make sense. I don�t think it�s the issues that turn kids off. I think it�s the tone.
BUSH: The first question is what�s in the best interests of the United States. Peace in the Middle East is in our nation�s interests. Having a hemisphere that is free for trade and peaceful is in our nation�s interests. An administration is dedicated citizens who are called by the president to serve the country. One of the things I�ve done in Texas is I�ve been able to put together a good team of people. I�ve been able to set clear goals.
BUSH: It�s important for the president to be credible with Congress and foreign nations. It�s something people need to consider. I�m going to defend my record against exaggerations. Exaggerations like only 5% of seniors receive benefits under my Medicare package. That�s what he said the other day. That�s simply not the case.
GORE: I got some of the details wrong last week. I�m sorry about that. One of the reasons I regret it is that getting a detail wrong interfered with my point. However many days that young girl in Florida stood in her classroom doesn�t change the fact that there are a lot of overcrowded classrooms in America and we need to do something about that. I can�t promise that I will never get another detail wrong. But I will promise you that I will work my heart out to get the big things right for the American people.
Q: Does that resolve the issue?
BUSH: That�s going to be up to the people.
A: I know it comes across that way. I don�t think it�s fair. This will be an administration of people well suited to their jobs. I�m secure enough that I want smart people around me. I�m comfortable with people who have high intellects.
Q: So how do you assure folks you�re smart enough to be President?
A: I�m confident of my intellect. I wouldn�t be running if I wasn�t. My job will not be to out-think everybody in my administration. My job will be to assemble an administration full of very capable and bright people.
Q: So getting the smartest people to tell you what to do.
A: No, no, no. Not tell me what to do. Make recommendations. Plus, I�m not going to have a group of people who say the same thing.
Q: So what happens when they disagree?
A: These people don�t decide for me. I�m going to have to decide. I will overrule my advisers. I�ve done that before. My job is to get good thinkers and get the best out of them.
BUSH: My faith plays a big part in my life. Prayer and religion sustain me. When I make decisions, I stand on principle, and the principles are derived from who I am. I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself, as manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative. I believe that God wants everybody to be free. And that's been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty.
KERRY: I went to a church school and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: Love God, with all your mind, your body and your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do. We have an unequal school system. And the president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith. I talked about it earlier when I talked about faith without works being dead.
"When I left here, I didn't have much in the way of a life plan," Bush told students when he returned to Yale in 2001. "I knew some people who thought they did. But it turned out that we were all in it for the ups and downs, most of them unexpected. Life takes its turns, makes it own demands, writes its own story. And along the way, we start to realize we are not the author."
No one could have anticipated the peril that America would face during the presidency of George W. Bush. Yet no one could have been better suited to confronting that peril. It required vision, courage, patience, optimism, integrity, focus, discipline, determination, decisiveness, and devotion to America.
Goodness had been one of the main themes of Bush's campaign speeches. He often observed that if the government could ever write a law that could make people love their neighbors, he would be glad to sign it. This was, when you think about it, an odd thing for a Republican president to say. If Congress had sent Ronald Reagan a law obliging people to love their neighbors, he would have vetoed it as an impertinent infringement of personal liberty, and unconstitutional besides.
But Bush came from & spoke for a very different culture from that of the individualistic Ronald Reagan: the culture of modern Evangelicalism. To understand the Bush White House you must understand its predominant creed. It was a kindly faith, practical and unmystical.
No matter what our background, in prayer, we share something universal -- a desire to speak and listen to our maker, and to know his plan for our lives.
An American president serves people of every faith, and serves some with no faith at all. I have found my faith helps me in the service to people. Faith teaches humility.
A charge to keep I have,[Hanging in my office is] a beautiful oil painting by W.H.D. Koerner entitled A Charge to Keep. The painting, inspired by the hymn, [pictures] a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep & rough trail. This is us. [The painting and] hymn have been an inspiration for me & for members of my staff. �A Charge to Keep� calls us to our highest and best. It speaks of purpose and direction. In many hymnals, it is associated with a Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 4:2: �Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.�
A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master�s will!
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Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person�s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There�s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.
The National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation�s governors and one of Washington�s most respected public policy organizations. NGA provides governors with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing policy reports on innovative state programs and hosting networking seminars for state government executive branch officials. The NGA Center for Best Practices focuses on state innovations and best practices on issues that range from education and health to technology, welfare reform, and the environment. NGA also provides management and technical assistance to both new and incumbent governors.
Since their initial meeting in 1908 to discuss interstate water problems, governors have worked through the National Governors Association to deal with issues of public policy and governance relating to the states. The association�s ongoing mission is to support the work of the governors by providing a bipartisan forum to help shape and implement national policy and to solve state problems.
Fortune Magazine recently named NGA as one of Washington�s most powerful lobbying organizations due, in large part, to NGA�s ability to lead the debate on issues that impact states. From welfare reform to education, from the historic tobacco settlement to wireless communications tax policies, NGA has influenced major public policy issues while maintaining the strength of our Federalist system of government.
There are three standing committees�on Economic Development and Commerce, Human Resources, and Natural Resources�that provide a venue for governors to examine and develop policy positions on key state and national issues.
[Note: NGA positions represent a majority view of the nation�s governors, but do not necessarily reflect a governor�s individual viewpoint. Governors vote on NGA policy positions but the votes are not made public.]
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George W. Bush
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