Following a sincere tribute to Coretta Scott King, who died Tuesday, the president moved into a type of moral lecture, challenging us to live up to the ideals we profess and to realize that we can't "retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life."
Speaking of America's leadership role in the world, the president again connected the freedom of others with our own freedom, asserting the more democracies there are, the safer we will be. And he reiterated a point he has often made, which is that we must not think that by leaving the terrorists alone, they will leave us alone. He pledged the United States will not retreat or surrender to evil and "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it."
He took a thinly veiled shot at liberal critics in Congress, saying, "There is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second guessing is not a strategy." On Iraq, he said he is "confident in our plan for victory and we are winning."
He called for the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and defended the National Security Agency's monitoring of phone calls between terrorists overseas and people inside the United States. He called it a "terrorist-surveillance program."
President Bush asked Congress to "put aside partisan politics" in order to solve our problems. Has anyone checked to see if hell has frozen over yet? When that happens partisan politics in Washington will evaporate. The president has called for fiscal responsibility, but it will only occur the day politicians put the national interest ahead of their own.
The first half of the speech was an effective, even persuasive argument for not tiring in the war on terrorism.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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