President Bush's Second Inaugural Address
My fellow Americans,
I love my country. I want you to know that during the first four years of my administration I have tried to do the right thing for America and her citizens. We have done our best for this land that we all love, and God bless you, you have been so kind as to send me back here to Washington, to continue to serve, and that's exactly what we intend to do.
Because you see, my fellow Americans, while we tirelessly worked for the betterment of these United States, and we have been certain of our righteousness, we must now concede that we are human. Mistakes have occurred, wrong assumptions made.
In 2000, I lost the popular vote in this country. A majority of you voted for my Democratic opponent. And yet my party and my lawyers fought this outcome all the way to the Supreme Court, using every bit of legal chicanery at their disposal to take the deciding electoral votes in Florida, a state run by my own brother and whose top election official was the co-chair of my campaign there. My opponent, to head off a potentially disastrous constitutional crisis, graciously conceded defeat when he saw that we would stop at nothing. For these actions I feel only remorse and shame, and I beg your forgiveness.
In 2001 I proposed an enormous tax cut. My financial advisors urged me to call it "tax relief." I proclaimed "The surplus does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people," and through the use of a campaign-style publicity blitz, I sold this idea to you, and my party and my advisors rammed it through the Congress. Only then did it become clear that this so-called tax relief amounted to nothing more than payback to the wealthy CEO's and corporations that have been financing my political career for twenty years and who essentially bought the White House for me in 2000.
My friends, I intend to correct this in my second term. I am proposing a rollback of these huge and regressive tax cuts, and a return to reality-based financing of the federal government. My economic policy up to now has created only more wealth for the already-rich, while hard-working Americans have seen their futures converted to dismal, low-paying fast food jobs. This needs to change, and that's just what we are going to do. The money from my tax-cut rollbacks will go into real investment in education, job creation and job training, and trying to return to some semblance of a balanced budget.
During my first term in office, the United States was attacked by terrorists. Terrorists who had given every indication of their intentions for years, and who we didn't bother even to try to disrupt or apprehend. It is to our everlasting credit that we went after them where they lived, that we destroyed their bases in Afghanistan and toppled the government that sheltered them there. I'm proud of what our brave soldiers accomplished there.
But we quit that fight in the middle and we did not capture their leader. Instead we turned to attack another sovereign nation, wreaking destruction on their country and killing an estimated one hundred thousand of their people, while costing the lives of over 1300 of our own, spending over one hundred and fifty billion dollars and destroying the worldwide credibility of the United States.
I sold this war to you, my fellow Americans, with more propaganda and deception. Everyone knows now that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam Hussein -- bad as he was -- had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks, and it is to my deep shame that I confess to you now that I knew it all along. We all knew -- Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary-designate Rice, even Secretary Powell -- but we wanted the war so badly that we were willing to deceive the American public to get it started.
I can't deny that this war has been good for Halliburton and many friends of mine and the Vice President's. But, my friends, war is wrong. It's evil and I will not spend another American life, not one more dollar for the continuance of this killing. I know now that we cannot bomb the world into peaceful democracy. Therefore effective immediately I am ordering my commanders to stand down in Iraq, and to begin converting their operations from death and destruction to humanitarian assistance. We have created a terrible mess in Iraq, and it is incumbent upon the United States to help in whatever way it can to alleviate the suffering and to help restore peace in the countryside and dignity to the Iraqi people. In this effort I'm asking for the support of every American.
My fellow Americans, I admit to you today that there is no "war on terror." Instead, my administration has waged war on the American Way. Through the Patriot Act and the frenzy that engendered it, through reinterpretation of The Geneva Accord and other international agreements, we have become a nation of torturers, a government that "disappears" people, a power-mad, oil-thirsty imperial bully, a pariah among nations, and I say to you this will not stand! As I speak, arrest warrants are being sworn for the top members of my administration: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condaleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and others. Within the hour they will be in custody, and real investigations will be undertaken to learn the details of their culpability in these corruptions of American ideals.
Which leaves me.
I stand before you, my supporters and detractors, and I say to you "I have sinned." For the damage I have done, I can expect no les than to be thrown from office, even imprisoned, and if you and the courts see fit to punish me so, I will gladly accept my fate.
I am a lucky man, but I am not a smart man. I was born to great wealth and sent to the finest schools, but I didn't learn very much. I didn't understand all that was happening during my first term in office. Until now, I believed that I was ordained by the Almighty to do the things that I have done as your President. Now I only wish for a chance to right the wrongs that I have committed -- and I have named only a few of them today. I stand before you humbled and ashamed, and I beg you to let me try. I can't promise that I will make no mistakes, but I can tell you this: There will be no more deception, no more hidden agendas. I will try my best to lead a government that is truly of and for the people, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you, and God bless us all.