“Awe Inspiring” Perk of Office – Part 2
In Part One last Friday, I left you marveling at the beautiful holiday decorations in the State level of the White House.
My 100 or so colleagues (from Maryland and neighboring states) heading into the State Dining Room interrupted my slack-jawed shuffle.
Our first speaker was Karl Rove, the political director for President Bush. Karl explained why we there, and gave us an outline of a typical day for President Bush.
The comments that struck me were the fact the President begins his day early, and his first reading is from his Bible. His second piece of reading material is the National Threat Assessment, and Rove suggested that no one should have to read this document. It details the threats that Americans face both at home and abroad, and President Bush reads it every single day. By 8 a.m., the President has already met with both the CIA and FBI directors.
Mr. Rove explained that the President was on his way back from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, having just signed a landmark home ownership bill. As he was talking, we could see the motorcade pull up behind the White House.
The imminent arrival of the Chief Executive causes slightly perceptible changes in the security apparatus. The few Secret Service personnel were seen talking into their cuffs, and we were all asked to take four steps back from the podium.
While Karl Rove didn't seem to mind the press of the crowd, the Secret Service wasn't too happy about it.
Mr. Rove talked for a few minutes about the President's week (highlighted by Saddam's capture), and then suggested he'd taken enough of our time, maybe we'd rather hear from his boss.
With that, the military personnel, who had been helping us, came to attention, and the President walked into the State Dining Room.
Okay, I'm a homer. My Democratic colleagues/contributors here on The Tentacle, Kip Koontz, Mike Kuster, and Ron Wolf, would have had very different reactions to the arrival of President Bush. At least that's what they'd probably say, anyway.
I'm not the least bit ashamed of admitting a great deal of admiration for a President who stands firmly on principle, who has never wavered in the face of drooping opinion polls, and who has done pretty much EXACTLY what he said he would do while running for office.
He thanked us all for coming, and he talked to us about the importance of recognizing the connection between job creation, economic opportunity, and taxes.
He thanked Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) for their consistent support for his tax cut proposal, and requested everyone's support for his efforts to make the current tax cuts permanent.
During his remarks, I was standing about 10 feet from the podium. At no point did he refer to any written notes, cards, or other form of prompting.
He spoke for 25 minutes, and he covered the War on Terror, the Iraq conflict, the Afghanistan front, Bin Laden, the Taliban, the economy, home ownership, Wall Street, job growth, and his work on the upcoming State of the Union address.
I was surprised, frankly, by his eloquence and ease. Maybe the liberal propaganda has even had some affect on this life-long Republican.
Al Franken and Michael Moore would have us all believe that President Bush is incapable of extended extemporaneous speech. The Hollywood elitists assume that if you don't say it their way, you must not be able to say it at all.
One local Democratic pundit on Adelphia Cable 10's Pressing Issues suggested that the President is not smart enough to serve. It is an interesting observation given the vacuous and insipid observations routinely offered by that commentator.
Several things about the President's remarks struck me, and at least one is so vivid that I suspect it will remain with me for the rest of my life.
While discussing the war in Iraq, the President spoke about how difficult it is for some pundits and world leaders to understand his motivation.
He told us that it is his core belief that freedom is a gift given to each of us by God. He firmly believes it is his solemn duty to use the powers of his office to protect this holy gift.
When he spoke about his trip to the U.N. in September of last year, I found his words to be very direct and blunt. He told us that he specifically told the Security Council that he was satisfied with the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He felt that the evidence upon which 17 separate U.N. sanctions had been based was conclusive and convincing enough.
He made it clear that he expected the U.N. to vote to take the necessary actions, or he would. Here the distinctions become vividly clear for next November's presidential election.
The leading Democratic candidates all state that the U.S. had no right to act unilaterally in Iraq. Dean, Clark, Gephardt, and Kerry all believe that we should have only used force with the full support of the U.N.
One candidate, Howard Dean, goes so far as to state that we are no safer now than we were before Saddam's capture.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, another Democratic Presidential candidate, couldn't disagree more with his competitors on this aspect of the Iraq question. Senator Lieberman says we're much safer now than before, and he uses Saddam's own motives as the example.
Everyone on the world stage understood that Saddam was desperate to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. Everyone except Governor Dean and the other Democratic presidential contenders appear to understand that if he were still in power, Saddam would still be trying to obtain these weapons.
Feels like another article coming on, but back to my trip.
As he was wrapping up his talk, the crowd of legislators began to jockey for access to the President while respecting the invisible line the security folks had established.
I was really impressed by some of my General Assembly colleagues, some of whom took immediate steps to catch the President's attention. Noteworthy were Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R., Harford County), Del. Joanne Parrott (R., Harford) and Del. Mike Smigiel (R., Cecil).
Senator Jacobs positioned herself immediately in the front and center of the group, and told the President how proud she was of the work he was doing for America. Delegate Parrott put an arm around him and posed for at least one picture. Delegate Smigiel reached through several people to get the President to autograph a pocket-sized Constitution.
I had to move between rooms to get a chance for a handshake and a "Hi, how ya doin?" from President Bush. Admittedly, I felt a little foolish trying to anticipate the route he'd take as he left, trying to get to just the right point for a little personal contact.
Now I can assure you it was worth every minute. I will never forget the intense feeling of pride and respect, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to campaign on behalf of George W. Bush in the 2000 election.
Rest assured, you'll see me at it again next summer, working to keep an honest, sincere, simple, yet principled Texan in that beautiful house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.