...tonight, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own, as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: "Madam Speaker." In his day, the late congressman, Thomas d'Alessandro, Jr., from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum.
But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as speaker of the House of Representatives.
Congratulations, Madam Speaker. ..
...Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour, when decisions are hard and courage is needed.
We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors under way, and others that are ours to begin.
In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies, and the wisdom to face them together.
Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate, and I congratulate the Democrat majority.
Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions, and to these we must stay faithful.
Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: to extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.
We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences and we can achieve big things for the American people.
Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on, as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done.
Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them build a future of hope and opportunity.
Over the next two years, Democrats chose to spurn Bush's conciliatory offer.
Now a few words from that great uniter, Barack Obama.
You are often confronted with bad choices that flow from less than optimal decisions made a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, when you weren't here. A lot of times, when things land at my desk, it's a choice between bad and worse.
This is a recurring theme in Obama's speeches. Start off by complaining about the problems left by the previous administration. If Obama didn't want to be faced with difficult issues, he should have sought a different line of work. For many people the principal attraction of a President Obama was his apparent desire to reject the bitter partisanship that had dominated politics in recent years. Karl Rove points out that Obama's bad mouthing of Bush is unprecedented. No other administration has so relentlessly disparaged the previous one as Obama's has. Of all the deceptions that Obama has foisted on the public, and there are several, the promise of post-partisanship is the most blatant. And the worst of Obama's naked partisanship is his continuing campaign to demonize the Bush administration's successful efforts to prevent another terrorist attack.
Of all the former Bush administration officials, Dick Cheney has been the most forceful counterweight to the Obama administration's irresponsible assault. Good for him. On CBS' Face the Nation last weekend he said,
I'm convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of lives.
And Obama's view of Cheney?
Dick Cheney was supposed to be here (at the White House Correspondents Association dinner) but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled 'How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People'.
Classless derision. Aside from its indignity, Obama's comment trivializes a serious issue (intelligence gathering). It and others like it could come back to haunt him. Petty ridicule now will be seen as criminal, impeachable neglect if his complacency leads to a future attack.
The ongoing "torture" debate continues to grate. This shouldn't even be an issue. It is not controversial! If we have a high value terrorist who has information about a potential attack, any measure that's taken to get him to talk is justified. Call it what you like. Coercive interrogation, enhanced interrogation, torture. Just do it!
Here's Obama raising the phony issue of our "values".
What makes the United States special ... is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy, even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it's expedient to do so.
Our values and ideals didn't prevent Lincoln from suspending habeus corpus during the Civil War or countenancing the wholesale slaughter that conflict produced. FDR allowed captured German spies to be tried by a secret military tribunal and then summarily executed. Under his watch, tens of thousands of civilians were firebombed during World War 2. With our safety or survival at stake we are perfectly willing and justified to compromise our values. Obama has continued the Bush strategy of airstrikes in Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan to help destroy the leadership of the Taliban and al-Queda. These attacks invariably cause civilian casualties. If you believe that it is an atrocity to"torture" a terrorist to obtain lifesaving information, isn't this at least on that level of depravity? Yet Obama sanctions the killing of innocent men, women and children while prohibiting "torture".
More on the term torture. Most discussions these days as to what constitutes torture focus on the severity of the methods used. Rarely is the question of context raised. This from Bert Prelutsky's latest column.
[A] difference that seems to escape liberals is that it’s torture when the only purpose is to cause pain, not when it’s done in order to pry important information from terrorists.
He also addresses the severity issue.
In my world, cutting off Daniel Pearl’s head, throwing Anne Frank in an oven or having to listen to Chris Matthews, is torture. But by no means is it playing loud music, keeping people awake, making them share space with a caterpillar or even dousing them with water, in order to get them to cough up information that might prevent another 9/11 or keep American soldiers from being ambushed.
(Prelutsky touches on several other topics in his typically witty piece on the insanity of liberals)http://townhall.com/columnists/BurtPrelutsky/2009/05/11/where_are_liberals_hatched?page=2
Ann Coulter gives some examples of true torture.
The Japanese routinely beheaded and bayoneted prisoners; forced prisoners to dig their own graves and then buried them alive; amputated prisoners' healthy arms and legs, one by one, for sport; force-fed prisoners dry rice and then filled their stomachs with water until their bowels exploded; and injected them with chemical weapons in order to observe, time and record their death throes before dumping them in mass graves.
On the Fox News panel yesterday, Juan Williams accused Cheney of "fear mongering". The same could have been said about Churchill in the thirties. Williams thinks that Cheney is doing this to set up Obama for a blamefest if there is a terrorist attack. Williams' reaction is revealing in that it provides an insight into the liberal mindset. Dick Cheney was a high level member of the previous administration and he knows lots of stuff. He now warns that Obama's plans to curtail coercive interrogation of terrorists puts our country at greater risk of a devastating attack. And Williams' concern? Cheney's doing this to make Obama look bad.
Here's hoping that the former VP keeps up his vigorous one-man defense of the Bush-Cheney legacy. Give 'em hell Dick!