DEFENDING HAVING GONE ON OFFENSE
Republicans seek to justify President Bush's military decisions
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
The Morning Session- the first of two this day- of the 38th quadrennial Republican National Convention was gaveled to order in New York City's Madison Square Garden by Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie at just after 10 o'clock a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (1400 UTC) on Monday 30 August 2004. The Presentation of the Colors was made by New York City-based Boy Scout Troop 520 and Explorer Post 5233. New York City police officer Steven McDonald, wheelchair-bound as the result of having been shot in the line of duty nearly two decades ago and joined by his son Conner, led the assembled in the Pledge of Allegiance, after which the Gatlin Brothers sang the National Anthem a capella.
The Invocation was given by Sheri Dew of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the so-called "Mormons") who also serves as President and CEO of Deseret Book Publishing. In her prayer, Ms. Dew offered that Heavenly Father... We are deeply grateful for the evidence of thy hand in the founding of this Nation and in its inspired Constitution... We pray for the wisdom and courage to protect and defend all families, for our Nation is only as strong as its homes. We are grateful for a Commander-in-Chief who seeks thy guidance... We plead with thee for peace and for our continued freedom, not only freedom from those who would terrorize us and encroach upon our borders and our peace of mind but freedom from acrimony and lapses in our integrity. After the Invocation, the Colors were retired.
After a technical announcement from RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie regarding the rather arcane parliamentary procedures involved in ensuring that the necessary majority of delegations to make a motion from the floor have so moved such motion, Republican National Committee Secretary (who was also the Secretary of the Convention) Sara Gear Boyd of Vermont was brought to the podium to read the Call of the Convention. After Ms. Boyd had read the Preamble to the Call, a delegate from Arizona was recognized to make a motion that further reading of the Call be dispensed with, a motion that the Chair declared as without objection, it is so ordered. Chairman Gillespie next moved that Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii be formally named Temporary Chair of the Convention, a motion that was approved viva voce.
There then followed a series of resolutions offered by various delegates called upon by Chairman Gillespie, each of which was quickly adopted viva voce. These resolutions approved the membership of the Convention's Committees on Credentials, on Permanent Organization, on Rules and Order of Business and on Resolutions (this last being, in effect, the Platform Committee) as already previously approved by the Republican National Committee. A delegate from Maine then moved that further reading of the Call be dispensed with, yet another resolution approved viva voce (although this was essentially the same motion made earlier by the delegate from Arizona, this extra step was necessitated by the rules of Parliamentary Procedure because the first dispensing with the reading of the full Call of the Convention was ordered from the Chair; this last resolution was the formal approval of same by the full Convention [the Convention always having plenary power to overrule the Chair]).
Chairman Gillespie thanked the assembled delegates for their so well getting this rather arcane business out of the way. We're off to a good start! he opined before there was a musical interlude allowing those delegates who were now officially members of these four Committees which were the subject of the resolutions so adopted to assemble as each of those Committees before meeting off the floor of the Convention itself. Then there was the first of what I would call "faux 'vox Pop's", in which an alleged "floor reporter" holding a microphone inside a box surrounded by the letters "RNC" and heard throughout the hall on the PA system "interviewed" a member of a delegation- in this case, a delegate from Pennsylvania talking about the Bush Administration's support of military servicemen and women in the field as well as veterans. This delegate, himself a recent veteran of the war in Iraq, described the President as the type of guy you want to serve under.
RNC Chairman Gillespie then returned to the podium to make remarks sounding the overall Convention theme of "a safer world and a more hopeful America". Republican National Committee co-Chair Ann Wagner then came to the dais to salute the "grass roots heroes" working for the Party. She opined that our President is resolute, he is right and he is standing firm and America is stronger because of it. There was now yet another faux 'vox Pop' by another "RNC-TV" "floor reporter", this time "interviewing" a delegate from Minnesota who is a recent veteran of the US Navy. This was followed by a musical interlude by a group of singers called Broadway Medleys for Bush who sang a series of New York City-oriented tunes, such as Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side), Give My Regards to Broadway, Lullabye of Broadway, Billy Joel's New York State of Mind and the like. Some of the tunes sung (though none of those named) had their lyrics somewhat altered to extol the virtues of the Party's presumptive nominee (the sitting President, of course).
The next speaker was former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (a Democrat [!!]) who asked rhetorically: Why am I here? He answered with a wry smile: I'm here to convert you- but that's for the next election: this year, I'm voting for the re-election of George W. Bush. This announcement elicited a great cheer from the assembled delegates, to which Koch then asked his signature question How'm I doing? which elicited even more cheering from the floor. Koch then introduced a film produced by the History Channel entitled My New York which not only extolled the virtues of the host city but linked New York City not only to American History but also the history of the Republican Party (this being the very first time the Republicans ever held their National Convention in New York), noting that Abraham Lincoln first emerged as a viable presidential contender in early 1860 with a speech at the city's Cooper Union and that New York was the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt. The film ended with President Bush himself extolling "my New York" (the assembled cheering greatly at this first- albeit filmed- appearance of their presumptive nominee at this Convention). After the film, Koch next introduced a great Republican leader, the current Mayor of the host city, Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg began his remarks by saying: Welcome to my New York, your New York, our New York, everybody's New York! The Mayor offered how excited New Yorkers are to have the Convention here. Bloomberg tipped his cap to the gains made in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and noted that, after 9/11, America and President Bush never stopped believing in us... we have shown the world that New York can never be defeated!...The terrorists hit us... our knees buckled, but we stayed on our feet. Bloomberg thanked President Bush for changing the Homeland Security funding formula and leading the Global War on Terrorism: the President deserves our support- we are here to support him and I am here to support him . Bloomberg declared that Homeland Security funds should be allocated by threat and no other reason. The Mayor of New York City closed with a hearty Thank you and have a great Convention to the assembled.
After Bloomberg had finished speaking, RNC co-chair Ann Wagner took to the podium again to, first, introduce Bush/Cheney '04 Campaign Chairman (and former Republican National Committee Chairman) former Montana Governor Marc Racicot who opined that America, though bruised, can never be shattered and that Republicans and President Bush have brought needed reform and welcome change to Washington creating a safer and more hopeful America and, second, Convention CEO Bill Harris, after which a number of routine resolutions were adopted by the Convention viva voce.
Congressman Tom Reynolds of New York, Chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, came to the podium to introduce a procession of candidates for the U.S. House, both incumbent and non-incumbent. Over the years, Madison Square Garden has been the home of many great champions, Reynolds noted, before suggesting that President Bush was a champion of freedom, fairness, liberty and opportunity.
The first incumbent Republican U.S. House member up at the dais was Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, who began his remarks with a friendly challenge to the assembled: May I see the hands of those who believe there is waste in Federal government. After a pause, he declared: It's unanimous! Sessions opined that Budgetary mismanagement robs the taxpayer and starves resources for Homeland Security... America, if you want to cut wasteful Federal spending, then vote for those who are doing something about it- President Bush and the Republican Congress! He was followed by Congressman Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania who noted that he know[s] the effects of the crisis created by our Nation's broken medical liability system... Millions are being poured into the campaigns of Democrats and that is a roadblock standing in the way of essential reform. Action is needed now before more quality doctors are forced to leave their practices under the threat of repeated lawsuits and patients are denied access to health care. Gerlach pleaded Let's work together and make the changes necessary to keep our doctors there for all of our patients, day in and day out!
Congressman Bob Beauprez of Colorado was next at the podium: I stand before you today very proud of the accomplishments and the record of our Party. Our vision is forward-looking and positive, grounded in the mainstream values of middle class America. We have a critical choice to make in November, delegates: a choice of steady, tested, courageous leadership that moves America forward or the politics of pessimism, fear and retreat. He was followed by Congressman Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, the most recent Republican member of Congress (he had just switched Parties earlier this month [and had actually been designated an Unpledged Party Leader/Elective Official delegate to the Democratic Convention held the month before]), who said of his very recent political conversion: Some say I am just a confused politician. Well, I was confused: that's why I changed Parties. I'm no longer confused!- a statement which elicited cheers from the delegates.
Now came the persons who very much wished to join the previous five speakers as fellow Members of Congress. First was House candidate Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania who declared that, if elected, he would work to keep taxes low, keep quality jobs, protect your Social Security and Medicare and defend our precious homeland. Next came House candidate Greg Walcher from Colorado, who said: Friends, we have a problem in the Rocky Mountain West. Liberals like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton want to lock the public out of Public Lands and allow our National Forests to die. Liberals like John Kerry want to use the Endangered Species Act as a tool to stop human activity and economic growth. But we have the ability to return a sense of balance to the West. House candidate Kris Kobach from Kansas followed, noting that- as an assistant to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft- I saw how important it is to give our law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need and I saw the vulnerability in our laws that [terrorists] continue to exploit.
House candidate Scott Paterno from Pennsylvania followed: of small business owners and family farmers, he said: President Bush and I are firmly committed to preserving these pillars of our community. Next came House candidate Louie Gohmert from Texas who stated: I am so proud to support our great President, George W. Bush, and have his support as he leads us in a war for this Nation's very safety. House candidate Ted Poe, also from Texas, followed up on this same theme: We are also engaged in a fight at home for basic American principles. And let me tell you something: this threat is real! It is not enough to sit in the stands as a spectator, complain and criticize, as the French did in the war in Iraq. We must continue to fight for less government, lower taxes, being vigilant in the War on Terror and keeping our country one Nation under God with Liberty and Justice for all. Sitting on the sidelines is not an option: now is not the time to be a "French" Republican.
House candidate Bev Kilmer from Florida was next at the dais: she opined that President Bush will never allow other nations to dictate how or when we protect this precious soil we call America... he will leave no child behind... he is working to see that every American who wants to work does... I stand with our President because it's the right thing to do. Next came House candidate Mike Sodrel from Indiana who declared that Being an American is not an address, it is a steadfast belief in Liberty. Of his late immigrant grandfather, Sodrel noted he was described as intensely American... He loved God, family and country and so do I. Sodrel further opined that America is stronger when we defend traditional moral values. He was followed by House candidate Antonio Davis-Fairman from Illinois, an African-American, who asked rhetorically Isn't America great where you can dream and succeed against the odds regardless of race, sex, age or income?
House candidate Clinton LeSeuer from Mississippi, another African-American, told the assembled that his part of the country largely consisted of men and women who believe in God and who believe in the greatness of America work hard to make ends meet... The very foundation of this great Nation is Christianity and a firm belief in Jesus Christ [to which many among the assembled cheered]. It was George Washington... who said "it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible". And I believe that, before we can begin to address the many problems our Nation faces today, we must restore and maintain Morality and Spirituality in government and George W. Bush is fully committed to that end! He was followed by House candidate Becky Armendariz-Klein from Texas who offered that We must preserve our conservative values: strong faith in God, strong families, hard work and compassion and patriotism. Help me now pave the way to our future! House candidate Bill Manger from New York was next and stated that It is vital that we maintain the progress of the last four years and further argued that in order to preserve our family farms and small businesses, we must repeal the Death Tax [the Republicans' pet term for Federal taxes on Decedents' Estates].
House candidate Tim Escobar, from what he himself described as the great and newly liberated State of California, next came to the podium: We need an America where our sacred traditions and patriotism, such as the Pledge of Allegiance and traditional Marriage, are honored, not redefined or removed. We need an America in which those who condemn our country and our soldiers in time of war are taken to task... Courage will bring victory, courage will bring the peace. House candidate Kevin Triplett from Virginia, a former official with NASCAR who opined that his experience in that organization had taught him that Teamwork is critical to success and that President Bush understands that and America deserves a Congress that understands it as well. He was followed by House candidate Larry Diedrich from South Dakota who declared that, despite his State's long-standing agricultural tradition, we realize that our future lies in technology and economic growth.
House candidate Geoff Davis from Kentucky was next: I believe our Nation needs policies guided by conservative principles and values. He was followed by House candidate Roy Ashburn from California who declaimed that Higher taxes hurt working families. House candidate Dr. Melissa Brown from Pennsylvania decried excessive litigation that adds 60 billion dollars to health care costs every year. House candidate Corey Hoze from Wisconsin, yet another of the African-American Republican candidates for Congress, stated he would work so that parents have control over their children's education. I will fight to promote the values that our families hold so dear in this country: traditional marriage and protecting the rights of the unborn. Delegate candidate Luis Fortuno from Puerto Rico was the final speaker among the Republican candidates for Congress: he opined that To be an American is about shared values, not about your ethnic background or the language you use to pray with your children at night and President Bush understands this very well.
Another faux 'vox Pop' "interview" by an "RNC-TV" "floor reporter" now took place in the Massachusetts delegation before RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie returned to the podium, first to order- without objection- that the reading of the complete list of Convention delegates and alternates assigned to each Committee be dispensed with before introducing Chairman of the Committee on Credentials Blake Hall of Idaho who, in his turn, noted that there were no contested delegate or alternate seats at this Convention for the first time in the history of the Republican Party. Hall then moved that the temporary roll of the delegates and alternates become the permanent roll of the Convention: this motion was adopted viva voce.
Hall was followed by Jennifer Carroll of Florida, Chair of the Committee on Permanent Organization, who recommended that Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives be named Permanent Chairman of the Convention, with Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland and Congressmen Deborah Pryce of Ohio, Henry Bonilla of Texas, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia and Candice Miller of Michigan as permanent Convention co-Chairs. A motion to this effect was adopted viva voce. With this, RNC Chairman Gillespie turned the gavel over to Speaker Hastert. Hastert took the opportunity to remark that we are proud of what the Republican Congress and the President have achieved together: historic tax reduction... revolutionary education reform... health savings accounts...
9/11 our country was viciously attacked, Hastert continued, the most deadly attack since Pearl Harbor. I am especially proud of our response... we have crushed the Taliban and promoted Democracy in Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein is in jail, instead of supporting terrorists, murdering his citizens and invading his neighbors- and, folks, Osama bin Laden is on the run. We have taken important steps to defend our people by creating a Department of Homeland Security... enacting the PATRIOT Act which gives law enforcement the tools to prosecute the terrorists before they strike again. My friends, we have a big choice this November, do we want the team that will keep job-creating tax cuts in place and keep America strong? Or do we want the Kerry-Pelosi team that is weak on war and wrong on taxes?
Bob Kjellander of Illinois, Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Order of Business, now reported to the Convention and moved that the rules of the Party as recently adopted by the Republican National Committee be made permanent: this motion was adopted viva voce. Kjellander was followed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions who offered that the 2004 Republican Party Platform was based on principles that are timeless as they are universal. He was followed by co-Committee Chairs Congresswoman Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania and Governor Bill Owens of Colorado.
Senator Frist then moved the adoption of the report of the Committee on Resolutions (that is, the Party Platform), said motion approved viva voce. There were then two more resolutions to be adopted viva voce by the assembled: the first to confirm the membership of the Republican National Committee as of the final adjournment of the Convention later in the week, the second officially directing the Convention Secretary to prepare a complete record of the proceedings of this Convention- after which yet another of the "RNC-TV" faux 'vox Pop's was conducted, this time from the Florida delegation
There was now yet another musical interlude- this one taking place in order to allow Vice President and Mrs. Cheney to take seats in the Convention gallery, after which Convention Chair Hastert urged delegates to take their seats and clear the aisles. Once the Convention had settled down, Hastert- with a wry smile- simply said Now! and the floor rose to give the Vice President a standing ovation while chanting "Four more years!" This was followed by the formal acknowledgement by the Convention that George W. Bush's was to be the only name placed in nomination for President of the United States and, likewise, Dick Cheney's was to be the only name placed in nomination for Vice President.
The Convention having thus officially accepted the nomination papers of the only candidates for each of the Nation's two highest offices, it was now time for the first part of a four-part "Rolling Roll Call of the States" (the same set-up the Republicans had first used at their Convention four years before). Secretary of the Convention Sara Gear Boyd returned to the podium, this time along with the Convention's Assistant Secretary- Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton of Colorado and the first part of this "Rolling Roll Call" proceeded as follows:
Once the "Rolling Roll Call" was suspended until the evening session, there was yet another "RNC-TV" 'vox Pop' in the New Mexico delegation, after which Senator George Allen of Virginia, Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, took to the podium: Good afternoon, patriots- are you all ready to win? Allen noted that elections decided in the midst of war have a profound impact on our lives and our country's future... President Bush is the right leader at the right time in our Nation's History. Senator Kit Bond of Missouri next came to the podium to say that, when he first sat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, what I didn't expect was that Intelligence would be used by the Democrats as a smear machine attacking our President. We've heard accusations repeated as if they were true... we found out the truth and, if John Kerry had paid attention and John Edwards had even showed up, they would know the truth, too. The truth is that there was no pressure by the President or the Vice President to change any of the findings that the intelligence community gave us about Iraq and its dangers with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Bond declared that President Bush would continue to strengthen our intelligence network, not politicize it as John Kerry has tried to do.
Senate candidate George Nethercutt, Congressman from Washington, noted that we are now fighting terrorists on their own soil and not on ours. Senate candidate Jim DeMint, Congressman from South Carolina, next declared Welcome to the Convention for the future! Colorado Senate candidate Pete Coors next urged his fellow Republicans to get to work and re-elect George W. Bush for four more years and make sure he has a majority in the United States Senate. He was followed at the podium by Senate candidate Bill Jones of California.
Senate candidate Marvin Scott of Indiana, an African-American, next offered that My ancestors were involuntary immigrants but you will never hear me speak of bitterness, only appreciation, appreciation for your ancestors who fought and died to free mine, appreciation for the support of the Party of Lincoln. It was the Republican Party that freed the slaves, helped pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and loosened the shackles of entitlement programs... My fellow African-Americans, come home to this Party: we are waiting for you with arms wide open. My fellow Republicans, keep reaching out. He was followed by South Dakota Senate candidate- and former Congressman- John Thune who decried what the Wall Street Journal has termed the "Daschle Dead Zone"- the roadblocks to the adoption of the policy initiatives of the Republican Senate majority put up by Thune's opponent (and Senate Minority Leader) Tom Daschle.
Governor Bob Taft of Ohio then came to the dais to extol the common sense values and policies of our Party and introduced three Republican candidates for statewide office: Gubernatorial candidate Monty Warner of West Virginia, Missouri Secretary of State candidate- and current Speaker of the State House of Representatives- Catherine Hanaway and Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo of Texas. The next speaker at the dais after each of these three was Eric Hoplin, chairman of the College Republican National Committee, who offered that he was proud to report the youth of America is lining up behind President Bush. Next there came remarks made by Mayor Pat McCrory of Charlotte, North Carolina- president of Republican Mayors and Local Officials; Susan Davis, president of Irish-American Republicans; Marilyn Byers, president of the National Conference of Republican County Officials; Michael Mack, president of Young Republicans, who declared that young Republicans are the voice of a new generation supporting a free market, a strong defense and principles of responsibility and accountability- and, finally, Fernando Mateo, president of Hispanics Across America.
Governor Linda Lingle, the Temporary Chairman of the Convention, now took to the podium to introduce Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman paralyzed in a diving accident who had become a famous painter nonetheless and who would now lead the Convention in the Benediction for the first session. Nations are made great by you, O Lord, she intoned, because Holy Scripture tells us that Righteousness exalts a Nation. Temporary Chairman Lingle then ordered, without objection (there was none) the recess of the Convention until the evening. It was just after 2:15 PM EDT (1815 UTC).
The Evening Session of the first day of the Convention was gaveled to order by Congresswoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio at 7:53 PM Eastern Daylight Time (2335 UTC). The Presentation of the Colors was by the New York City Police Department Colors Team. After the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem was sung by 13-year-old Olivia Lalewicz of Sterling Heights, Michigan- outside of Detroit and then the Invocation was given by Imam Izak-ei Mu'eed Pasha of Harlem, the first Muslim chaplain of the New York Police Department.
The Convention was once again entertained by the singing group Broadway Medleys for Bush before a faux 'vox Pop' by "RNC-TV" in which Convention CEO Bill Harris was "interviewed". At the end of this "interview", Harris cried out: Live from New York, it's the Republican National Convention! after which the Convention was treated to an video montage that was a throwback to the old opening sequence of NBC-TV's "Saturday Night Live" with the last scene being RNC Chair Ed Gillespie stepping out of a cab outside Madison Square Garden. After this, the real in person Ed Gillespie came to the podium to once again call Convention Secretary Sara Gear Boyd and assistant Secretary Jane Norton to the dais for the second of the four parts of the "Rolling Roll Call of the States", which proceeded as follows:
Convention Permanent Chairman Dennis Hastert now came to the dais to, once again, suspend the Rolling Roll Call, this time until the following evening. Next, the official Convention photograph was taken, after which Hastert made a few remarks largely scoring Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry: noting that Abraham Lincoln's political base and Ronald Reagan's birthplace are both within the Illinois Congressional District he himself now represents, Hastert noted that George W. Bush believes in the hopeful vision of Lincoln and Reagan, but John Kerry doesn't share that vision: he is on the wrong side of taxation... of litigation... of regulation... these are the job killers... John Kerry doesn't see it that way: at his "Boston Tax Party", John Kerry promised to raise taxes on the job creators... This is no time to pick a leader who is weak on the war and wrong on taxes.
The presence of Vice President and Mrs. Cheney was once again announced to the Convention and they acknowledged the cheers of the assembled as they took their seats in the gallery. This was followed by another "RNC-TV" faux 'vox Pop' from the Michigan delegation during which House candidate Myrah Kirkwood read a letter from former President Gerald R. Ford expressing his regret that he was unable to attend the Convention. There was a video tribute to President Ford, followed by a musical interlude, a video tribute to the first President Bush followed by former President and Mrs. Barbara Bush being announced as they, too, took seats in the gallery to the cheers of the assembled.
Actor Ron Silver now addressed the Convention, as a native New Yorker noting that just over one thousand days ago, two thousand six hundred and five of my neighbors were murdered at the World Trade Center- men, women and children- as they began their day on a brilliantly clear New York autumn morning, less than four miles from where I am now standing. We will never forget, we will never forgive, we will never excuse... We are again engaged in a war that will define the future of humankind: responding to attacks on our soil, America has led a coalition of countries against extremists who want to destroy us, our children, our way of life and our values. This is a war we did not seek- this is a war waged against us: this is a war in which we had to respond. History shows that we are not Imperialists but we are fighters for Freedom and Democracy... The President is doing exactly the right thing and that is why we need this President this time! This elicited enthusiastic chants of "Four more years!" from the Convention floor.
Congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico, the first female military veteran to ever be elected to Congress, next took to the podium: I'm honored to be with you tonight to salute our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen and our marines. We're proud of every one of them and blessed by their service to America... In this great struggle, we need a Commander-in-Chief who is a beacon, not a weathervane: we have one in George W. Bush. There now came a video of ceremonies honoring veterans held earlier this day aboard the USS Intrepid Museum, which- in turn- was followed by a series of these "RNC-TV" faux 'vox Pop's- from the West Virginia, New Hampshire and Minnesota delegations. This was followed by a choir singing a medley of the theme songs of each of the branches of the American armed services.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who held that office on 9/11, next spoke to the Convention and recalled that, when he first took office in 2000: Crime was down- the City was prosperous and then the unthinkable: America was under attack. Kerik opined that today, we live in a much safer world as a result of the strong leadership of this President... This fight against Terrorism takes decisiveness, not contradiction- it takes support for our troops and first responders, not votes against our military, against our intelligence and against our law enforcement spending. Most importantly, it takes courage and inspirational leadership in the White House. There are two candidates in this race, but only one fills those needs!
There was now a live video feed from a firehouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in which Greg Gracz, president of the local firefighters' union, who offered that the most cherished working condition we have is a safe, free America. That condition was placed in jeopardy when we were attacked on our homeland. Our Freedom is not negotiable! After yet another of the faux 'vox Pop's provided by "RNC-TV" (this time from the New York delegation), this was followed by former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Rob Khuzami defending the PATRIOT Act, claiming that it has helped our Homeland Security team dismantle terror cells from New York to Oregon. Against critics who claim that the PATRIOT Act allows for searches without informing the searchee, Khuzami said: They are mistaken... What the PATRIOT Act does is permit agents... to ask the judge to let them reasonably delay notice of the search.
After a video of a photo montage of major events during President Bush's time in office so far, with audio excerpts of speeches made by the President since taking office, the next speaker at the podium was Zainab al-Suwaij, an Iraqi- born woman who is also the Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress. She described her life in her homeland under Saddam Hussein as living under a murderer who used every weapon in his arsenal against us. She reminded her audience that there had been a war raging in Iraq for the last three decades and that, only now, already the seeds of Democracy are bearing fruit. Next came yet another video presentation extolling the vision and leadership of President Bush, followed by a presentation by husband and wife professional football player Jason Sehorn and actress Angie Harmon honoring Medal of Honor recipients in attendance at the Convention.
After a series of musical interludes, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was introduced and took the podium. Are you ready to win? he asked the assembled, to which the delegates on the floor cheered. Our political opponents talk of two Americas, a divided Nation, Graham said. There will be no class warfare in this hall tonight!
Senator Graham then introduced Senator John McCain of Arizona. During his remarks, McCain noted that the awful events of September 11th 2001 declared a war we were vaguely aware of but hadn't really comprehended how near the threat was and how terrible were the plans of our enemies. It's a big thing, this war: it's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for every soul on earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil- and, my friends, should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become a much bigger thing. So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation- to our rendezvous with destiny and much is expected of us.
McCain explained: We are engaged in a hard struggle against a cruel and determined adversary: our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and the very essence of our culture: Liberty. Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs. But we must fight: we must!... We must not be complacent at moments of success, and we must not despair over setbacks: we must learn from our mistakes, improve on our successes, and vanquish this unpardonable enemy. If we do less, we will fail the one mission no American generation has ever failed: to provide to our children a stronger, better country than the one we were blessed to inherit.
Of 9/11, McCain noted that, on that day, We were united: first, in sorrow and anger, then in recognition we were attacked- not for a wrong we had done, but for who we are: a Nation united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the People are sovereign- not governments, not armies, not a pitiless theocracy, not kings, mullahs or tyrants, but the People. In that moment, we were not different races: we were not poor or rich; we were not Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. We were not two countries- we were Americans. All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that Freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility: all other responsibilities come second.
McCain went on: My friends in the Democratic Party, and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends, assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation. I don't doubt their sincerity: they emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts- in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence and in diplomacy. They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all, that our alliances are as important to victory as is our army. We agree... I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends- and they should not doubt ours... But there is no avoiding this war: we tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly. And while this war has many components, we can't make victory on the battlefield harder to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct: this is not just an expression of strength- it is a measure of our wisdom. That's why I commend to my country the re-election of President Bush [this, predictably, elicited more chants of "Four more years" from the floor] and the steady, experienced, public-spirited man who serves as our Vice-President, Dick Cheney.
The Arizonan soon turned to what appeared to be the main thrust of his speech- the Republicans' contention that there was, indeed, a direct link between the war in Iraq and the greater War Against International Terrorism: After years of failed diplomacy and limited military pressure to restrain Saddam Hussein, President Bush made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq. Those who criticize that decision would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war- but there was no status quo to be left alone! The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close: the international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots and his refusal- until his last day in power- to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal. Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war- it was between war and a graver threat: don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our political opponents- and certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker [at this point, a welling-up of boos rose from the floor: Michael Moore, in attendance in the press gallery, seemingly good-naturedly accepted the Convention's disdain for him before the assembled once again took up the chant "Four more years"] who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of Peace when, in fact, it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children inside their walls.
Senator McCain further argued that We couldn't afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times. By destroying his regime we gave hope to a people long oppressed that if they have the courage to fight for it, they may live in Peace and Freedom. Most importantly, our efforts may encourage the people of a region that has never known Peace or Freedom or lasting stability that they may someday possess these rights. I believe as strongly today as ever, the mission was necessary, achievable and noble. For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support but our admiration. As the President rightly reminds us: we are safer now than we were on September 11th, but we're not yet safe- we are still closer to the beginning than the end of this fight. We need a leader with the experience to make the tough decisions and the resolve to stick with them- a leader who will keep us moving forward even if it is easier to rest and this President will not rest until America is stronger and safer still and this hateful iniquity is vanquished. He has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time and I salute him: I salute his determination to make this world a better, safer, freer place. He has not wavered, he has not flinched from the hard choices: he will not yield and neither will we!
Of those serving in the American military, McCain said: It's an honor to live in a country that is so well and so bravely defended by such patriots: may God bless them, the living and the fallen, as He has blessed us with their service. For their families, for their friends, for America, for mankind, they sacrifice to affirm that right makes might, that good triumphs over evil, that freedom is stronger than tyranny and that love is greater than hate. It's left to us to keep their generous benefaction alive and our blessed, beautiful country worthy of their courage... We have to love our freedom, not just for the material benefits it provides, not just for the autonomy it guarantees us, but for the goodness it makes possible. We have to love it as much, if not as heroically, as the brave Americans who defend us at the risk, and often the cost, of their lives.
No American alive today will ever forget what happened on the morning of September 11th, McCain opined. That day was the moment when the pendulum of History swung toward a new era. The opening chapter was tinged with great sadness and uncertainty: it shook us from our complacency in the belief that the Cold War's end had ushered in a time of global tranquility. But an absence of complacency should not provoke an absence of confidence. What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach: it cannot be taken from us- it can only be surrendered.
Of the Democratic challengers to the current Administration, We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, and support the general welfare. But it should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause and in the goodness of each other. We are Americans first, Americans last and Americans always. Let us argue our differences but remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals and our unconquerable love for them. Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes- they fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity. We fight for love of Freedom and Justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith- keep your courage. Stick together- stay strong. Do not yield- do not flinch. Stand up with our President and fight. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender- they will!
Not long after Senator McCain concluded his remarks, three female family members of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (two widows and a sister) each offered a personal tribute to those who were killed in the terrorist attacks. They were followed (after Amazing Grace was sung by former New York City police officer Daniel Rodriguez) by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who, of course, was still serving in that office on that awful day. Welcome to the capital of the world, Giuliani said as he began his remarks. Recalling how, three days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush had offered that the terrorists would soon "hear from us", the former Mayor asked the assembled, So long as George Bush is our President, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us? We owe that much- and more- to the loved ones and heroes we lost on September 11th.
Giuliani opined that this Convention being held in his city is a strong statement that New York City and America are open for business and we are stronger than ever... We're just not going to let the terrorists dictate where we have political conventions, where we go, how we travel: we're Americans- the land of the free, the home of the brave!... Our Party is at its best when we make certain that we have a powerful national defense in a still very, very dangerous world... Neither Party has a monopoly on virtue: we don't have all the right ideas, they don't have all the wrong ideas- but I do believe there are times in History when our ideas are more necessary and more important and more critical and this is one of those times when we are facing war and danger. These are times when leadership is the most important.
Giuliani continued: President Bush's response in keeping us unified and turning around the Ship of State from being solely on defense against terrorism to being on offense as well, and for his holding us together- for that and then his determined effort to defeat global terrorism, no matter what happens in this election, President George W. Bush has already earned a place in History as a great American President! You and I- we're not going to wait for History to present the correct view of our President: let's write our own History- we need George Bush now more than ever!
Before September 11th, we were living with an unrealistic view of our world, Giuliani noted. President Bush decided we could no longer just be on defense against global terrorism, we must also be on offense... he changed the direction of our Ship of State: he dedicated America under his leadership to destroying global terrorism... and since September 11th, President Bush has remained rock solid: it doesn't matter to him how he is demonized, it doesn't matter to him what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him... Leaders need to be optimists, their vision is beyond the present and it's set on a future of real peace and security. Some call it stubbornness: I call it principled leadership. President Bush has the courage of his convictions... There are many qualities that make a great leader but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through both popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader... President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is: John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision... maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas: one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against exactly the same thing!... John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception.
The contrasts are dramatic, the former Mayor suggested. They involve very different views of how to deal with terrorism. President Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we don't have to confront it- or we reduce the risk of confronting it- here in New York City- or in Chicago- or in Los Angeles- or in Miami- or in the rural areas of America: that's what it means to play offense with terrorism and not just defense!
After Giuliani had finished speaking, the Convention was treated to a film of the late Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York. Then, after the Benediction, Congressman Jack Kingston of Georgia moved that the Convention adjourn until the following day, a motion that was adopted viva voce. The time was 11:27 PM Eastern Daylight Time (0327 UTC).