President Bush’s Campaign Stop at Hara
Thanks to the White House transcript, I can just make some comments here based on the speech out at Hara Arena. First off, you’ll note that this is not the same speech Bush gave up in Maumee. It’s similar in certain areas, and a few sentences are the same, but…hmm. I’d almost say the President’s speechwriters just gave him a stack of outline notecards with a few sentences written out in full, and let him just say things his own way in each place. Which, frankly, would be sensible. It’s obvious that when he just reads along with the teleprompter he tends to stumble.
Anyway, the tailoring is also interesting. The Hara speech spent less time on the economy and jobs, although it made the same points. It spent less time on arguing the case for the war and more time on support for the military — which makes sense, given that we have Wright-Patterson AFB and tend to support the war. Technical issues were added: the search for alternate energy sources, no tax on access to broadband. Education was mentioned, with an appearance by the president of Sinclair Community College to talk about how they can tailor courses to business needs.
Here’s a quote that really struck me:
“The government is not a loving organization. I’m sure there’s loving people in government. I’m one. (Laughter.) But government, itself, is not loving. Government is law and justice. Love comes when somebody, a soul, says, what can I do to make my community a better place? What can I do to mentor a child? What can I do to love my neighbor just like I’d like to be loved myself?
This is pretty much the definition of conservatism: drawing the line between the jobs of the government and of private persons. But this is also the kind of spiritual talk that sounds completely natural coming out of Bush’s mouth, and completely holy-go-pious from Kerry’s. Being religious isn’t a requirement for running for office; but people who aren’t shouldn’t try to pretend that they are. People can tell. It puts them off.
Here’s a cute quote:
My name is Erica Keene. I’m eight years old. And what’s the funnest thing to be — about being President? (Laughter)
The funnest thing is this: making decisions that make the world a better place. (Applause.) I’ve got to make a lot of decisions — some of them you’ll see, and some of them you don’t see — which means that, in order to make good decisions, you better know what you believe, you better stand on principle.
Secondly, in order to make good decisions, I’ve got to listen to smart people. I like to be around smart, intelligent, capable people. I like to walk into a roomful of people like Condi Rice — (applause) — Dick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld or Colin Powell. (Applause.) I like to tell people the Oval Office is the powerful place. People will stand outside the Oval Office, and they say, I can’t wait to get in there and tell him what for. And then they open the door, and they walk in this majestic shrine to democracy, and they’re overwhelmed by the atmosphere. And they say, man, you’re looking beautiful, Mr. President. (Laughter.) Which means, you better have people around you who tell you the truth. (Laughter.)
A decision-maker must be willing to listen, must be willing to count on others to give good, solid advice. As you go out and gather the vote, remind people I’ve put together a really fantastic team of citizens. And they’re good and honest folks, who are smart and capable.
The best thing about this job is making decisions that I think will influence the world and the country in positive ways.
Let me talk to you real quick about history. I don’t think a President, if he does big things, will be around to see the history of his administration. Oh, yes, there will be the subjective history; there will be the political history; there will be the short-term history about an administration. But you won’t be able to see the big things that have changed: the momentum of freedom in parts of the world that’s desperate for freedom; or a cultural change in the country, to see the ultimate effects of a cultural change from one that — a culture that said, if it feels good, just go ahead and do it, and if you got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of understands we’re responsible for the decisions we make in life.
So the idea — the best part of this job is to set in motion big changes of history. It’s unbelievably exciting to be in a position to do that. That’s why I want to be the President for four more years. I see clearly where I want to lead the country. I see the obligations we have as a great nation. We have an obligation, where we see tyranny and slavery, to act. I don’t mean militarily. I mean using our influence to free people. We have the obligation to free people from tyranny, and we have the obligation to free people from disease.
One of the things this country has done that I’m incredibly proud of is we’re leading the fight against HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa, for example. It is an incredibly important mission for this great and compassionate country.
The next question went back to faith:
Yes. You’ve written this question down. That’s dangerous.
Q Yes, but that’s because I’m a little nervous.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, don’t worry, it’s just the President. And a huge press corps. (Laughter.)
Q First of all, Mr. President, thank you. I want to thank you for being a man of faith. And as a fellow — (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Okay. He may have a question back there. (Laughter.)
Q Wow. Anyhow, as a fellow man of faith, how has the faith, first, affected you as a man? How has your faith affected you as President? And further, how do you think faith will affect the outcome of the 2004 election? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. That’s a good question. First, let me make this abundantly clear to you, the job of the President is to promote a society in which people are free to worship as they see fit. (Applause.) A valuable and cherished tradition of America is that you can worship an Almighty if you want to, and you’re just as patriotic if you choose not to — that if you choose to worship, you can worship any religion that you choose. My job is to make sure that that is a absolute part of the American society and future.
From an individual perspective, as a person, I rely upon faith to give me the strength necessary to do my job. One of the interesting parts of the job, something that I discovered as President, is the fact that a lot of people pray for me. That’s a very humbling thought when you think about little old me. People pray for George W. and his family. I don’t ask; people just do. (Applause.) And for that I’m grateful, incredibly grateful.
I believe in prayer, and I appreciate the prayers of people. I think the 2004 election will be determined by the American people’s decision as to who best can lead the country. That’s what I think will determine the 2004 election. I think it’s the collective will of the people which make that determination. Some people of faith will participate. Some who don’t necessarily agree with faith will participate. The question of the outcome of the race is who best can describe as clearly as possible a positive and hopeful and optimistic future for every single citizen of this country, regardless of their political party, regardless of their background, regardless of their economic status. That’s what I think will determine the outcome of this election. (Applause.)
See, this isn’t a theocracy. No truly religious person would want it to be.