I Dreamed They Had a Debate

“…truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them. “

–Thomas Jefferson

Moderator: The first question goes to Pres. Bush. What would you do to get American troops out of Iraq, and how soon do you think they can get out?

Bush: We all want to get the troops out as soon as we are able. But I know and believe we have a strong and vital role to play in Iraq, and we certainly cannot leave a vacuum for the insurgents to take over. We are engaged in a conflict from which America cannot afford to cut and run. We must be steadfast in this endeavor, upon which depends not only our future but that of the entire modern world. I will be guided by the military in the exact logistics of withdrawal, but politically, it is our aim to see that a democratic Iraqi government takes over in Iraq, serving as an example to the Arab and Muslim worlds, and leaving us free to come home. About the time frame, people have to understand that this is a long-term investment. We are talking about our future, after all, and a few years is very little in the big picture. It might be, it is, painful in the interim, but it is, I believe, essential for America and the world. My own sense is that it will take anywhere between 3 to 7 years overall. But that will be only be determined by the facts on the ground. But I know we will not stay one minute more than necessary.

Moderator: Senator Kerry?

Kerry: I disagree with almost everything Mr. Bush has said in his answer, except for his mention of the long-term. We do have to take the long-term view. And long term, the question to ask ourselves is whether America should attack others pre-emptively, whether she should embroil herself in wars far away from our soil, and try to bring democracy by force to the rest of the world. Even accepting Mr. Bush’s explanations of our motives for a second, something which is contradicted by all the administration’s words and actions, this is a question we must first answer. And I believe it is both unwise and even wrong to interfere in the affairs of other nations. This is a basic difference between us. Indeed, if we are honest, we will see that this is one of the reasons for 9-11…

Moderator: Mr. President, your rebuttal?

Bush: On 9-11, we discovered that we cannot escape from the world. To me personally, this was a life-changing experience, and I realized, as did all Americans, in a way that is impossible to describe, that we were not protected by the two oceans. It was necessary to eliminate threats before they showed up on our doorstep. I agree with my opponent that we should not be getting caught up in far away wars. But I believe Iraq was central to our war on terrorism. A brutal dictator who had gassed his own people and had the potential to build weapons of mass murder…
Moderator: Sorry Mr. President, your time has expired. The next question is for Sen. Kerry. Senator Kerry, many people are unclear about your exact position on the War (laughter). You voted for the Senate resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Did you not expect the president to go to war? Subsequently, you have said you supported the War, then later that it was the wrong war. You said you supported the bill to fund the war before you opposed it. Can you clarify to the American people where exactly you stand?

Kerry: I’m glad you asked me that question. My position on the war has changed over time. I don’t see stubbornness and clinging to positions once you see their error as a great virtue in a president. To answer your question, it is true that I voted for the Senate resolution, as did the majority of Democrats. We did so because we believed our President when he declared that Iraq had weapons, and that it was an imminent threat. Of course, we did not know the inner discussions in the White House which cast doubt upon the existence of these weapons in Iraq. One expects to be told the truth by the President of the United States in all matters, and especially in matters of war and peace. As time went and facts were revealed, I have had to reconsider my position. What remains unchanged is the principle, which is that we do not launch wars without overwelming reasons, and overwhelming alliances, and without overwhelming force, none of which the President did in launching this war. And that is why we are in the mess we’re in now, with an administration which has deceived the people, disdained its allies, and deserted its men in combat (applause). As to the 87 billion dollars, my words were taken out of context. Every senator, Republican and Democrat alike, has voted in favor of bills that were not 100% to his or her liking, or opposed bills which contained things that they supported. This is a matter of compromise, which we cannot expect an extremist administration to know anything about (applause). This administration…

Moderator: Senator, your time has expired. Mr. President, your rebuttal…?

Bush: Senator Kerry has added one more position now (laughter). The principle I believe in is the principle of protecting our nation. I believe that the United States has the right to attack any country it views as a threat at a time and place of its choosing. As commander-in-chief I cannot risk another attack on our country like 9-11. If it means taking the battle to the enemy that is exactly what the United States will do. I’m sorry, but I have no regrets for taking out a regime which gassed its own people and had attacked two of its neighbors, and held hostile intentions towards the United States. In fact one of Senator Kerry’s positions (and you should ask him if he still believes in it) was that the Iraq war was brilliant.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr. President. Senator Kerry, your rebuttal…

Kerry: We can see why Mr. Bush is called a fine debator. Unfortunately, thunderous words and applause lines do not change the facts one bit. It was Donald Rumsfeld who shook Saddam Hussein’s hand in Baghdad in 1983, long after he had gassed his own people. And it was the Bush Administration which gave 43 million dollars to the Taliban in 2000, I remind you, long after it was known as the protector and host of one Osama Bin Laden. And when I said the war was brilliant, it was a tribute to our troops and the generals, an accomplishment in the face of constant meddling by an incompetent administration which refuses even to provide our troops with proper body armor! (Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. The next question, for President Bush. Mr. President, nearly 1100 troops have died in Iraq alone. Americans have died and in Afghanistan. Thousands more have been injured, many with lifelong disabilities. Do you think you and your administration bear any responsibility for this, and do you ever wonder why we are in this situation?

Bush: No president ever puts American lives at risk without a terrible sense of responsibility. And no American ever hears or reads of a soldier’s death without saying a silent prayer for the dead hero or thinking of the grief of the family and friends. Every young man or woman who dies represents a life with its own dreams and plans, extinguished so suddenly. But all said and done, it is our responsibility to see that (1) we never put our troops in situations where they are subject to unnecessary risk, and (2) we give them all our support at all times. This is why people are distressed when we see my opponent and his running mate run down the war in Iraq and second-guess how it’s going, because we know it has a bad impact on the morale — of the GI under fire in Falluja or the marine facing killers in Najaf. We know it is a tough choice. In war, people die. But when we refuse to confront the enemy, we will face the enemy in New York and Washington, as we did on 9-11. As for responsiblity, of course we stand by our decision to go to war on Iraq. President Kennedy said that friend and foe alike should know where America stands. Under my administration, they do. As for my opponent, I guess he’ll keep our enemies guessing, because he himself won’t know where he stands.(Laughter and Applause).

Moderator: Your turn, Senator…

Kerry: Fine words again from President Bush. We all die a little when we hear of young men and women killed or maimed. That is why war should be the last resort. Unfortunately, this president did everything to make sure we rushed to war, and nothing to see if we could prevent it. He made it his first choice. The duty of the president, especially of a great power like America, is to the exact opposite. War is terrible. I know. I’ve been there. It is not enough to lament the loss of life, when we know we have not done enough to avoid it. And it is simply tragic to continue on a course involving greater loss of life, American and Iraqi. This is why we will find a way to end the war in Iraq as quickly as possible (Applause). Finally, the president should know the difference between criticizing the war, criticizing the administration, and letting down the troops. We are being Americans when we hold our government to account. We are being false to our troops when we send them to a needless war, betraying their trust when we shortchange them on protective equipment, and cheating them when we silently cut their benefits, as this administration did. You might also want to ask the president why his administration prevents the media from showing the caskets of dead soldiers arriving back at Dover Air Force Base.

Moderator: Mr. President, you have 60 seconds…

Bush: This administration knows how to safeguard our people. Protecting the American soldier is and will be the first priority of our government. As for our fallen men and women, we believe we should respect their privacy. Let me also say one other thing — the senator knows very well that we went to the UN, and we tried weapons inspectors, only when Saddam would not comply did we take the ultimate step of going to war.

Moderator: Thank you. Senator Kerry, what exactly would you do differently from the President on Iraq? Would you go ahead with Iraqi elections as they are currently planned? We know you have laid out a four-point plan, but your opponents say your four points are already being done.

Kerry: The key difference is that I am not George Bush (Applause). This president has antagonized so many nations around the world, a task that a lesser man would have found impossible (laughter). Consider our situation on September 12, 2001, the morning after 9-11. Our neighbors Canada and Mexico, Latin America, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, everywhere in the world, people stood with America, outraged by the crime that was committed against the greatest, noblest, country in the world. Within six months, our president had squandered this unprecedented goodwill, and converted it into a near-universal fear and loathing.

The second important difference is that when President Bush sees America, he sees only a military superpower. I see a moral and idealistic beacon. Mr. Bush may talk about democracy all he wants, but it is not democracy to wilfully disdain and heap scorn on world opinion. We do not command moral leadership by starting pre-emptive wars. After all, isn’t that why we went to war against Saddam Hussain when he invaded Kuwait?

If President Bush is elected, the world will see that instead of punishing him for earning America the hatred of the world, we were rewarding him. His continued leadership alone would make mending fences and building back our trust in the world practically impossible. The third difference is that this administration’s word is not trusted any more. When, during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy sent an envoy to President DeGaulle with photographs of the missiles, DeGaulle waved the photographs away, saying, “I trust the word of the President of the United States”. That was then. When Colin Powell sits at the Security Council brandishing evidence which turns out to be false, when the President speaks to the nation about non-existent yellowcake from Niger, which his own CIA knew to be untrue, when Donald Rumsfeld says that he knows exactly where the weapons are, and then it turns out there are none found, what credibility does our country have left? (Applause). Whatever my merits, I would think these facts alone disqualify Mr. Bush from election (Applause)…. [after a wait] I would have said re-election if he had won fair and square the first time (Long Applause).

Moderator: Mr. President, your turn…

Bush: Thank you. I’d like to answer that. First of all, it will come as a surprise to the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, the Cameroons and all those countries, big and small that have stood alongside us in Iraq, some losing lives, to hear Senator Kerry say that they don’t count for anything. Second. Moral leadership means promoting universal values like freedom, liberty and democracy. I have said that Liberty is not the United States’ gift to the world, it is God’s gift to mankind. We need to change the nature of the society in the middle east from one which breeds terrorism to one that is free and peaceful. Third. We weren’t the only ones to say Saddam had WMD’s. The UN thought so. My predecessor in the White House thought so. So did the senate. And mind you, we’re still not done looking. (Laughter).

Moderator: Senator Kerry…

Kerry: Liberty and human rights are American ideals already enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the UN, not President Bush’s gift to the world. I know the president is fond of bashing the UN to get a round of applause whenever he can, but the fact is that nothing long-lasting can be achieved by cowboy-style shoot-from-the-hip attitudes and clever soundclips like ‘Wanted, Dead or Alive’ or ‘Bring ’em on’. These may sound good in Westerns, but in the real world, building alliances and persuading other countries is the only way to achieve great things. So long as we live by the ideals of our nation, the UN and the nations of the world will follow us. If we behave as outlaws, we can say little when other nations do the same.

Moderator: Next question to President Bush. You took the country to war saying that that Iraq was central to the war on terror. After a year-and-a-half, there are more insurgents in Iraq now than there were before the War. How can you say your policy is succeeding?

Bush: When we got rid of the dictator, we fully expected that some people in his Baathist party and others who hate America would try to resist the approach of democracy. You see, they hate our way of life and know that if freedom and liberty come to the Middle East, their message of hate will have no place. The people of Iraq are happy to have been rid of the tyrant, and glad that their long nightmare has ended. But we knew it would not be easy.

Iraq has long borders with other countries, including Syria and Iran, and some terrorists have come into Iraq from these countries. So the road is long and arduous, but at the end, we will prevail over the terrorists. The future of the Middle East, and of humankind, is freedom.

The other day, the Prime Minister of Iraq was visiting me in the White House, and I asked him how he managed to go to work everyday with so much negative publicity about his country. He said he dreamed of the day when Iraq would be another US in terms of a free press, free speech, freedom of religion, a place for everyone would have a good life. That’s what real Iraqis are talking about, and which never gets reported in our press. The Prime Minister told a news conference that there were only three or four districts that there were insurgents, and the rest of the country was free. Now that’s the Prime Minister of Iraq talking. We’re making progress, despite what everyone says, and every step takes us closer to the day when a free and democratic Iraq takes its place in the family of nations.

Moderator: Senator Kerry?

Kerry: The President’s answer will certainly be a surprise to his own vice-president. Do we remember how Mr. Cheney kept telling us that we would be welcomed as liberators? He also kept telling us that Iraq had a link to 9-11. And that he had no doubt Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But members of this administration have always given accuracy a wide berth.

The simple fact of the matter is that we planned for the invasion, not for anything else. We had too few soldiers to secure the country, something that Gen. Shinseki warned about, and for his candor he was rewarded with early retirement by this administration. Just consider the consequences. We saw widespread looting just as soon as we occupied Baghdad, including the looting of mankind’s most ancient artifacts at the Baghdad Museum. Now Mr. Bush may not care about our heritage, here or in Iraq, but it is an irreparable loss to all of humanity. Equally tragic, the Iraqi army was allowed to dissolve into the ground, allowing the disappearance of all its weaponry into unknown hands. Nuclear facilities were not guarded either. And there was certainly no way we could secure the borders with such a small strength of soldiers.

So this administration squandered the peace and blundered the post-war situation. Bluster and high talk will not change the facts. Ask Senators Hagel and McCain, both Republicans and war veterans. Both have said that Iraq is a mess. In Iraq today…

Moderator: Sorry Senator Kerry, Mr. Bush’s rebuttal.

Bush: It is a slur on our armed forces to say that they did not do their duty guarding Iraq. Our armed forces are the best in the world, and as Commander in Chief I will keep it that way. It is difficult to guard a long border, especially when confronted by an enemy who hates us. They have tried to frighten us by kidnappings and beheadings, but they know that we are resolved, and they cannot break our resolve. We will win this war (applause). In my acceptance speech I spoke about post-War Germany and Japan, which took years to set right. I’m sure that in Iraq, the people will thank America in the decades to come.

Moderator: Senator Kerry, many people say our relations with the Islamic world will never be good unless we address the Israeli-Palestinian issue. When Gov. Howard Dean said we should be even in our dealings with both sides, you criticized him during the primaries. How would you address this issue, and how would your plan be different from the President’s?

Kerry: To answer your second question first, almost any approach would be different from the President’s, because he has none. (Applause).

This administration abandoned the promising negotiation tacks that were put in place by the Clinton administration, and departed from a settled foreign policy plank of the United States for at least four decades, namely its role as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our first task in the area is re-establish our credentials, once again an impossibility under the current administration. We need to talk to all the players in the area, not because we agree with them, but because they play a role. Our aim is what it has always been, the establishment of a safe and secure border between the two nations. To the Israelis, we must say that their only hope of long-term survival is not an indefinite arms buildup and dependence on the US, but the establishment of good relations with their neighbors. To the Palestinians, we must say that they need to think of a future where they are known for their great business talents and skills, not their suicide bombers.

I will also add that the Israeli methods of assassinating Hamas leaders is troubling to me. Assassination is a double-edged weapon, and not a permissible tool in the realm of international affairs. If they have charges, let them arrest the people concerned and try them. As a democracy, Israel should consider whether its methods enhance or reduce its moral standing.

Assassination, kidnappings and suicide attacks have become too much the standard operating procedure in the Islamic world. So much so that the name of Islam itself has been diminished in the eyes of many people. It is the responsibility of all of us, and particularly those in the Islamic world who care about their religion, to rescue it from its increased association with violence. My administration will work with all parties in the Middle East to make this a top priority.

Moderator: Mr. President, you have 90 seconds.

Bush: When Prime Ministor Sharon faces suicide bombers killing schoolchildren in buses and young people in cafes, it is not our place to tell him how to deal with the killers. These are fanatics and fundamentalists who hate Israel for what it is. We have said that as long as Yasser Arafat is in power, the Palestinian leadership has no credibility. We have called upon the Palestinians to choose a leader who will give them bread and jobs instead of guns. I hope, for their sake, Mr. Arafat understands that his part in the play is over, and exits the stage gracefully. It will be his best service to his people. (Applause)

Moderator: Senator Kerry, 1 minute.

Kerry: You know, as I was listening to Mr. Bush, it occurred to me that so much he said about Arafat is true of him. An unelected leader, offering his people guns instead of jobs, food and medical care, and with hardly any credibility left… (Loud Applause).
[Waits for applause to die down]
And I do hope he takes his own advice to Arafat — leaving the stage gracefully, realizing his time is up. (Loud Applause).

But as for Mr. Arafat, whatever his past services to the people of Palestine, he has not, in my view, been effective for some years. That said, it is for the Palestinians to choose their leadership, and I would not presume to say whom they should or should not choose, just as I would not tell Israel…

Moderator: Sorry Senator, we need to move on. Our next question is for President Bush. Turning to our relations with our allies, how do you see the United States in relation to the European Union and Russia? It is no exaggeration to say that we have had a bumpy relationship in the last four years. What would you change?

Bush: With the EU, our relations are long-standing and strong. We have always said that friends can disagree but still remain friends. In fact, Germany has helped us a great deal in Afghanistan, and France has been very forthcoming in some new initiatives in bringing Iraq back to the fold. About Russia, we have continued to improve relations with President Putin. I visited the Russian Embassy to sign the condolence book in the wake of the horrific school hostage situation there in Beslan. The Russian people understand, as we do, and are waking up to its horrors as we did on 9-11. We will work with Russia, as we are now, and with the European Union, to build a strong alliance to fight terrorism across the globe.

Look, a stable Middle East is in everyone’s interest, most of all the Europeans, who are their neighbors. So we will call upon Europe, as we have continued to do, to work with us in building a strong force for democracy in Iraq. We are all in this together. The fight against terrorism is not limited to America. Europe, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, the Phillipines, all have had their share of it, and all the leaders have been very cooperative in our efforts. But it is for America to lead, and we will.

Moderator: Senator, ninety seconds.

Kerry: Thank you. President Bush should look at his record. His administration refused to fund an effort to secure the Russian nuclear facilities in the post-Soviet era. This is the greatest danger to non-state nuclear proliferation. In Europe, we have come across as arrogant and self-important. Look, no one needs to demonstrate America’s position in the world. Everyone knows it. And yet, members of this administration have set back our historical relations with the major nations of Europe by dismissing them as ‘Old Europe’ and spurning their advice and counsel.

President Bush is correct in saying that all nations must work together in the war on terror. He has a good speech. But has he followed it with actions? Just look at his record. The way he and his colleagues talk about the United Nations is not calculated to win friends or influence countries. The way he went about deriding the Kyoto accord and the SALT treaty soon after assuming office was hardly the way to establish a relationship with the powers of the world. It is not enough to say when we are in a crisis — please work with us now. When I am president, building international relations with our friends and allies will be an ongoing process, not a blow-hot blow-cold approach.

I would also add that foreign policy does not begin and end with terrorism, as this administration appears to believe. (Applause).

Moderator: Mr. President, 60 second rebuttal.

Bush: My opponent seems to think being ‘sensitive’ to the UN is the cornerstone of foreign policy. I refuse to subordinate the interests of the United States to any body, UN, EU or anyone else. (Applause).

Moderator: Senator Kerry, you have supported going to war in Afghanistan. The Afghan elections are coming up soon. What will a Kerry administration do in Afghanistan, and how will it differ from the Bush administration?

Kerry: Very different, Jim. It is true that I supported going to Afghanistan, but let us remember the reason for that war. It was to capture Osama Bin Laden, and getting rid of the Taliban. We have, unfortunately, failed on both counts. Bin Laden is busy producing videos, and even if he is to be captured today, he has had three years to reorganize and morph his deadly structure into innumerable groups across the globe. I accuse this administration of wanton neglect of this main objective in their pursuit of Saddam Hussain, a man whose whereabouts we knew. As for the Taliban, their leader, Mullah Omar, is still in circulation, and the Taliban have been very active in Eastern Afghanistan. In the rest of the country, the story is not much brighter. Mr. Karzai travels little beyond the confines of Kabul. Even the other day there was a rocket attack on his entourage when he was on a rare tour outside the capital. Fortunately he survived, though others were killed. The administration’s record on the one foreign policy they said they were focused on is a tale of unrelieved failure. And this failure is due to a blinkered arrogance to which there is no cure except to throw them out of office. (Loud applause).

You asked me how a Kerry administration would do things differently. First of all, we would have to undo the damage done by this administration by its ineptitude and miscalculations. We would have to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans, but it has to be a long-drawn-out process of engagement at the civil, cultural, military and political levels. Right now, warlords control most of the country, and the poppy production, which was the one thing the Taliban appeared to check, is back way up. This must be tackled on a war footing, which we will do.

Moderator: Mr. President, you have 90 seconds.

Bush: Senator Kerry seems to have forgotten what has happended in Afghanistan. Remember the Taliban regime, which kept women at home, banned movie theaters and soccer games, and conducted public executions? Well, it is gone. It was replaced by a president chosen by a committee of people drawn from all political factions in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is now a free country, and 10 million people have registered to vote. You see, people want to participate in democracy all over the world. It is wrong to think that just because some country is Muslim, they cannot be democratic. Afghanistan has now got 200 new school buildings and 25 hospitals. This is what most people would call progress. Who knows, tomorrow, Mr. Kerry might change his mind (Laughter).

This was a country devastated by war for a decade and a half. We are building it up, but things take time. We have the help of the entire international community and this country is making steady progress. Under President Karzai’s leadership, a new phase in Afghan history is taking shape. The Afghan people are a proud people, and they are grateful to the United States for freeing them from the scourge of the Taliban.

Moderator: Senator, your one-minute rebuttal.

Kerry: I tell you what I have not forgotten. I have not forgotten that the Bush administration gave the Taliban 43 million dollars. I have not forgotten that when Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, the Taliban leaders were welcomed to his state and given a royal treatment. And let me tell you what else I’ve not forgotten. The words, ‘Tora-Bora’. It was there that Osama Bin Laden was trapped, and could have been killed or captured. He was allowed to escape, with his lieutenants like Ayman Zawahiri, because Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld chose to rely on Afghan warlords rather than on the US armed forces. This is worse than incompetence. And after this stunning ‘success’, Mr. Bush and his friends wanted to divert forces from Afghanistan to Iraq. Senator Graham has written about it in his recent book. It is a shoddy…

Moderator: Sorry to stop you, Senator. There is only time for the closing statements. Mr. Bush, you first. You have two minutes.

Bush: I want to thank you, Jim, for conducting this debate, and I want to thank all those who organized it. I also want to thank my opponent for a spirited exchange.

This election is unlike any other we have had in our history. On September 11, 2001, our nation was changed, perhaps forever. As president, I too was changed, and the entire meaning of the presidency was altered permanently. No longer could we afford to be complacent about the world we lived in. Nor could we expect that our innate sense of decency, goodwill and kindness to others would always be reciprocated. And, what is most important, our military power and oceanic fortress was not enough to protect us from determined enemies the likes of which we have never faced before.

In these circumstances, the most important need is to have a steady hand at the wheel, one which does not deviate from its purpose depending on which way the wind blows. The task of keeping America safe and secure in an uncertain world falls heavily on the president. This is not the time to have someone learning on the job.

It is the men and women in our administration and all across our great land, who have worked day and night, most of them whose names you and I will never know, who protect this country of ours and keep its people safe. They need to know that they are led by a person of steady vision, strong resolve, and solid beliefs.

My fellow Americans, I believe I am that man. May God Bless America. Thank you. (Thunderous applause)

Moderator: Senator Kerry, your closing remarks…

Kerry: I want to thank the organizers, and you, Jim for a fine job. I want to thank President Bush for his participation.

When the nations of the world look upon the United States, they see a country which has achieved what they would all like to become one day. Whether it is in the field of science, art, music, agriculture, politics, economics or war, the United States is the leader.

America has everything most countries envy. A Constitution which is the treasure of mankind, a strong military, natural resources of every kind. Above all, as Tocqueville said, a good people, which is what makes us great.

This is our inheritance. I ask myself, will we pass this along to our children, or will our generation be the one to lose what is most precious about our country?

We need a leader with perspective. Yes, 9-11 was a vicious attack on our country. But does it mean everything this country stands for, is respected for the world over, has fought for throughout its glorious history, all become meaningless? Only someone who does not recognize the glory of America might think so.

Yes, we will fight terrorism as we fought the Fascists and the Nazis, the Communists and their surrogates. We will fight anyone who wishes to impose a totalitarian system upon a free society, and we will always prevail. But we will not do so with a fear-stricken administration which seeks to deprive us of freedoms in the name of ‘defending’ us from the terrorists, who also seek to deprive us of our freedoms.

We need a leader who has a sense of balance, an understanding of the ebb and flow of history and a sense of our country’s unique place in it. This is a foreign policy debate, and you cannot conduct foreign policy without a sense of what we are fighting for. And any President who can reduce the conduct of this country’s affairs to a morning’s attack by a bunch of demented fascists does not, in my view, understand what this great nation is all about.

As to changing hands midstream, someone should tell Mr. Bush, because Mr. Ashcroft probably didn’t (laughter), that is exactly what the Constitution intends. And as to moving with the winds, he who does not trim his sails to the wind is destined to crash his vessel.

Ladies and Gentlemen, great challenges confront our great nation. We seek to meet them by rising to the task, not by defining our country down. Thank you, and good night. (Thunderous Applause)

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. His articles can be found on http://www.indogram.com/gramsabha/articles. He also has a blog, http://njn-blogogram.blogspot.com. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.


/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.