The Command Post
2004 US Presidential Election
August 30, 2004
| RNC: McCain's Speech

[Prepared text of John McCain’s speech, made available by the GOP]

Remarks by Senator John McCain (AZ)

Thank you, Lindsey, and, thank you, my fellow Republicans. I’m truly grateful for the privilege of addressing you. This week, millions of Americans, not all Republicans, weigh our claim on their support for the two men who have led our country in these challenging times with moral courage and firm resolve.

So I begin with the words of a great American from the other party, given at his party’s convention in the year I was born. My purpose is not imitation, for I can’t match his eloquence, but respect for
the relevance in our time of his rousing summons to greatness of an earlier generation of Americans.

In a time of deep distress at home, as tyranny strangled the aspirations to liberty of millions, and as war clouds gathered in the West and East, Franklin Delano Roosevelt accepted his party’s
nomination by observing:
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”

The awful events of September 11, 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 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.

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 to 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. The sacrifices borne in our defense are not shared equally by all Americans. But all Americans must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end. 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.

Remember how we felt when the serenity of a bright September morning was destroyed by a savage atrocity so hostile to all human virtue we could scarcely imagine any human being capable of it. 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 people united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the people are sovereign, not governments, not armies, not a pitiless, inhumane 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. We must not lose sight of that as we debate who among us should bear the greatest responsibility for keeping us safe and free. We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time.
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 are our armies.We agree. And, as we’ve been a good friend to other countries in moments of shared perils, so we have good reason to expect their solidarity with us in this struggle.
That is what the President believes. And, thanks to his efforts we have received valuable assistance from many good friends around the
globe, even if we have, at times, been disappointed with the reactions of some.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours. Our President will work with all nations willing to help us defeat this scourge that afflicts us all.

War is an awful business. The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer. Commerce is disrupted, economies are damaged. Strategic interests shielded by years of statecraft are endangered as the demands of war and diplomacy conflict.

However just the cause, we should shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. 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.
That is not just an expression of our strength. It’s a measure of our wisdom.

That’s why I commend to my country the re-election of President Bush, and the steady, experienced, public-spirited man who serves as our Vice-President, Dick Cheney.

Four years ago, in Philadelphia, I spoke of my confidence that President Bush would accept the responsibilities that come with America’s distinction as the world’s only superpower. I promised he would not let America “retreat behind empty threats, false promises and uncertain diplomacy;” that he would “confidently defend our interests and values wherever they are threatened.” I knew my confidence was well placed when I watched him stand on the rubble of the World Trade Center, with his arm around a hero of September 11th, and in our moment of mourning and anger, strengthen our unity and summon our resolve by promising to right this terrible wrong, and to stand up and fight for the values we hold dear. He promised our enemies would soon hear from us. And so they did. So they did.
He ordered American forces to Afghanistan and took the fight to our enemies, and away from our shores, seriously injuring al Qaeda and destroying the regime that gave them safe haven. He worked effectively to secure the cooperation of Pakistan, a relationship that’s critical to our success against al Qaeda.

He encouraged other friends to recognize the peril that terrorism posed for them, and won their help in apprehending many of those who would attack us again, and in helping to freeze the assets they
used to fund their bloody work.

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 critics abroad. Not our political opponents. And certainly not a disingenuous film maker 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 held inside their walls.

Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again. The central security concern of our time is to keep such devastating weapons beyond the reach of terrorists who can’t be dissuaded from using them by the threat of mutual destruction. We couldn’t afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times. By destroying his regime we gave hope to 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 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.

I said earlier that the sacrifices in this war will not be shared equally by all Americans. The President is the first to observe, most of the sacrifices fall, as they have before, to the brave men and
women of our Armed Forces. We may be good citizens, but make no mistake, they are the very best of us.

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; that love is greater than hate. It is left to us to keep their generous benefaction alive, and our blessed, beautiful country worthy of their courage. We should be thankful — for the privilege.

Our country’s security doesn’t depend on the heroism of every citizen. But we have to be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf.
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. 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.
My friends, we are again met on the field of political competition with our fellow countrymen.

It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis we have these contests, and engage in spirited disagreement over the shape and course of our government. We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our
freedom, and promote 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, 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. Stand up with our President and fight.

We’re Americans.

We’re Americans, and we’ll never surrender.

They will.

Posted by Michele at August 30, 2004 10:12 PM | TrackBack

OK I take back half my criticism of McCain for this line and crowd’s reaction:

And certainly not a disingenuous film maker 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 held inside their walls.

Posted by: ter0 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 30, 2004 10:28 PM

I used to have tremendous respect for Senator McCain. This all changed when he became a shill for Bush and his reprehensible administration. After what the Bush campaign did to Mr. McCain in 2000 I am astounded that he can stand on the same stage as Mr. Bush, and actually hug and kiss him. Has he no principles whatsoever? Has he no selfrespect at all? His is desire for public recognition and his dream of becoming president some day so overwhelming that he is willing to sell himself and his wife down the river as a price? Remember, the Bush campaign did not only attack Senator McCain, but they said terrible things about his wife and child as well.

McCain also lied through his teeth in this speech. When he said that Saddam did not allow access to the U.N. inspectors for the months leading up to the U.S. invasion, he was lying. The inspectors were reporting excellent results and cooperation and pleaded for additional time. Bush ordered them out so he could commence bombing. McCain fell back on the old saw that even though Saddam had no weapons at the time, he might have rebuilt them in the future and given then to terrorists, this is why war was essential. We were told Saddam was an imminent and immediate threat to our country; not a possible threat sometime in the future. Bush lied, and McCain swears to it.

I feel terrible about McCain. As I said, I once had enormous respect for him. I sincerely believed he was a notch above the average, sell-out politician. I believed he had intregrity and at heart was an honest person. He has proven himself to be a self-serving, liar just like so many others of his ilk. I hope he and his new found love, Mr. Bush are happy together. But if anyone from the Bush family beats up on him again , he asked for it and deserves it.

Posted by: Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 01:10 AM

without wishing to take your arguements apart line by line, suffice it to say that I think you are wrong.
In my humble opinion, I would rate the Senator’s speech as quite superb, it revealed a depth of awareness and political maturity that many would do well to learn from.

America will not fail as long as Orators of this calibre have the ability to motivate and inspire the electorate.

Posted by: max [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 07:18 AM

I used to have tremendous respect for Senator McCain.

Well thankfully, in a stretch I might admit to having minimal respect for McCain (I appreciate his willingness to speak out and name names about the pork barrel excesses of his fellow senators, even if it is only to burnish his “maverick” image with the press).

If on the other hand I once had high respect for him, I might wonder if at this stage of his career he has lost any need to cater to anyone for approval — if in fact he is free to do what is right according to him (he said exactly that in interviews last night). And given that he almost certainly has access to more information about national security and military affairs than anyone on this blog, isn’t it also a very real possibility that he’s correct in his judgment to support Bush over Kerry on the issue of Iraq?

Do you think McCain lied when he called Moore disingenuous for his portrayal of pre-invasion Iraq under Saddam as an oasis of peace and tranquility? Remember, he has first hand knowledge and you only have Michael Moore’s word for it.

Your answer will say all we need to know.

Posted by: ter0 [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 09:39 AM

I, too, am losing respect for McCain. (Note: there’s still alot left to lose). Sure, it was a lovely speech. But okay, already. Everything changed after 9/11. No matter who was president on that day, they would have gone to ground zero for the photo-op when it was safe, and they would have invaded Afghanistan.

The problem is Iraq, and nothing McCain said has changed my mind.

“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.”

Or choice number 3 … containment (which includes enforced, regular inspections).

“Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again.”

Unless he were contained with enforced, regular inspections.

“By destroying his regime we gave hope to people long oppressed”

… and we gave billions around the world good reason to think we are militant opportunists who will liberate a country as long as we can get some good contracts and/or oil and/or new military bases in strategic places. Not to mention giving a cause to the (hopefully only) hundreds or thousands of young out of work arabs who don’t seem to have good prospects in this life and are willing to bet it all on an afterlife.

“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.” Maybe we’ll get around to liberating all of ‘em.

I do appreciate McCain’s attempt to say “Hey, we’re all Americans, so let’s argue our differences, and fight fair.” I take that as being targeted at the Swiftboat smearage, but only as far as he’s allowed. Too bad he couldn’t be more staightforward.

I will be so grateful when someone makes an honest attempt to understand why we’re under attack. And if you think the enemy hate’s us because we love freedom and they hate it, enjoy your little self-serving dream. Ask yourself why they only recently started hating freedom (or whichever other of our ideals they hate). It’s not our ideals: it’s our attitude and our actions.

Posted by: James [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 04:21 PM

James, James, James, Ask yourself this: what actions did the French engage in that resulted in the hostage taking this week?

What did the Spanish do? or the Australians for that matter?

You think we live in a self serving dream yet you exhibit all the signs of advanced Moore’s syndrome.

The liberal myth is that the attacks were somehow the fault of America and you cling to this inspite of all the evidence of true evil that has come to light.

I don’t think there’s a cure for Moore’s syndrome, but it can be halted by regular reading of CP and NRO, we wish you well.

Posted by: skip [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 04:44 PM

Another question James: what did the children who died when the school in Kabul was bombed do to deserve death? How had they offended the delicate sensibilities of the heavily nuanced Islamists?

Posted by: skip [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 04:48 PM

So, I started analyzing the Democratic Platform, and had life sneak up and tackle me before I got even partway finished… but one thing I did note is that it is a plank in the democratic platform that “We must treat the materials to make bombs as if they were bombs,” which is exactly Bush’s reason for invading Iraq. Looks like you’re being sold out on both sides, James, Michael.

Posted by: TBox [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 04:52 PM

I don’t know. What did the French do? Apparently is was an attempt to gather news. What’s your point?

As for Moore’s syndrome, if you mean I look at what Moore says and measure it against what I know and hear elsewhere, then yeah, I got it. If you’ve lumped him into the group of freedom haters, well, I wouldn’t want to mess up your dream. Well, maybe I would.

As for the “liberal myth” that it’s America’s fault, I agree with the myth part, but not the adjective. Of course it’s not our fault. But we’re not completely innocent.

What do you think is the motivation of the terrorists?

Posted by: James [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 04:59 PM

Skip, I will try to answer serious questions honestly.

Posted by: James [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2004 05:03 PM

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