Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Congratulations At Last, Mr. President!

by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Hollywood, Calif.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. Dec. 13, 2000 -- In back-to-back speeches unique for t= heir historic circumstances and distinguished by ringing appeals to the bet= ter part of human nature, President-elect George W. Bush and losing Democra= tic presidential nominee Vice President Al Gore spoke Wednesday night to th= e nation that for 36 days has been transfixed by their unprecedented post-E= lection Day contest for the presidency.

The two men urged Americans to putthe bitter differences of the 16-month= campaign and month-long contest behind them, and to come together to work = for the good of the nation. (The full text of both speeches appears belo= w this story.)

"I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation, "Mr. Bus= h said.

"Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your intere= sts," he said, "and I will work to earn your respect."

It is the first time since 1952 that a Republican president will enjoy a= Republican majority in both houses of Congress. While the margins are sle= nder -- just the vote of Vice President-elect Cheney when sitting as as pre= sident pro tem of the U.S. Senate provides the difference in the 50-50 part= y distribution there, and just eight votes in the 435-member House of Repre= sentatives -- the Republican platform that can now be enacted is sure to us= her in a dramatically different era than the Clinton years brought to the n= ation. Among the immediate results is likely to be a significant tax break= for some Americans. Other than touching on his plans, however, Bush did n= ot argue for GOP causes.

Gore, too, studiously avoided partisanship, barely mentioning the c= ontroversial high court stay that ended the Florida recounts except to say = he disagreed with it.

"Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken," he said. "Let there be no = doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I = accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in t= he Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people = and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession."

The speeches followed a day in which both sides studied intensely t= he complex and puzzling 65-page, 5-4 Supreme Court decision -- an opinion w= ith four dissents -- handed down exactly 24 hours before Bush's speech bega= n. Bush spoke from the podium of the Democrat-controlled Texas House of Re= presentatives in order to give a clear bipartisan character to the address.=

He was introduced by a Democrat, Speaker of the Texas House Pete Laney= ,and noted in his speech that his former Lt. Governor, Bob Bullock, is also= a member of the opposing party.

Both speeches were carefully aimed at restoring the comity that mus= t precede political goals if Congress and the nation are not to be paralyze= d by partisanship.

"We have discussed our differences. Now it is time to find common g= round and build consensus to make America a beacon of opportunity in the 21= st century," said the President-elect.

Gore spoke from his suite of offices in the Old Executive Office Bu= ilding. He opened his speech witha brief interregnum, in which he seemed m= omentarily overcome by emotion and swallowed, apparently in sadness, before= he began. His moving and eloquent address was probably one of the best of= his life, and behind him a woman in the official party wiped tears from he= r eyes. But his wife, Tipper Gore, stood steadily smiling throughout it, a= portrait of the perfect political wife.

Gore's concluding words were reminiscent of the valedictory by Gen.= Douglas MacArthur in his 1949 speech to Congress.

"And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's tim= e for me to go," Gore said.

Gore also had words of thanks and praise for his running mate, U.S. Sen.= Joseph Lieberman, and hiswife, Hadassah. Sen. Lieberman was the first per= son of Jewish faith ever to compete for the White House as the nominee of a= major party.

"Tipper and I feel a deep gratitude toJoe and Hadassah Lieberman wh= o brought passion and high purpose to ourpartnership and opened new doors, = not just for our campaign but for ourcountry," Gore said.

Bush, too, took a moment to praise his wife, Laura. "Laura's active= involvement as first lady has made Texas a better place, and she will be aw= onderful first lady of America," the President-elect said.

President= -elect Bush also devoted several minutes of his speech to policies he hopes= to implement, especially in the areas of tax relief, prescription coverage= for "all our seniors," shoring up Social Security, and what was probably h= is most compelling campaign promise: to improve the education of America's = children and "to leave no child behind" -- the sole campaign catch-phrase t= hat appeared in the speech.

Indeed, absent from the President-elect's speech was any hint of ri= ght-wing touchstone issues or thekind of partisanship one might have expect= ed in the same sort of speech had been given just after thepolls closed on = Nov. 7.

Bush did attempt to define generally what he means by "compassionate con= servatism," and notedthat it was his intention to ensure not that America's= defenses are "superior to" any others. His slightnervousness and flawless= delivery rose to the occasion, helping to define him both as a human being= anda leader.

Bush urged the nation to pray for both him and for Gore, andtook the unu= sual step of congratulating not only the Vice President but his campaign wo= rkers as well for the "hard-fought" contest.

That chapter -- unlike any other in American history, ended last n= ight with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to halt recounts of votes di= sputed by the Gore campaign in Florida, where voters apparently gave the Pr= esident-elect a razor-thin margin of victory.

Bush, who may have won the popular vote in Florida by less than 200 vote= s and lost the nationalpopular vote by 300,000, will nonetheless prevail in= the Electoral College by a vote of 271 to 267 when it meets on Dec. 18. = In both speeches, the three concluding words were those that have beco= me a signature of the American presidency: "God bless America."

Perhaps they have never been more deeply needed, nor more profoundly fel= t.

Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.

The following is President-elect George W. Bush's campaign victory speec= h delivered Wednesday evening:

Good evening, my fellow Americans. I appreciate so very much the opportu= nity to speak with you tonight.

Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, friends, distinguished guests, our cou= ntry has been through a long and trying period, with the outcome of the pre= sidential election not finalized for longer than any of us could ever imagi= ne.

Vice President Gore and I put our hearts and hopes into our campaigns. W= e both gave it our all. Weshared similar emotions, so I understand how diff= icult this moment must be for Vice President Gore andhis family.

= He has a distinguished record of service to our country as a congressm= an, a senator and a vicepresident.

This evening I received a gracious call from the vice president. We agre= ed to meet early next week inWashington and we agreed to do our best to hea= l our country after this hard-fought contest.

Tonight I want to thank all the thousands of volunteers and campaignwork= ers who worked so hard on my behalf.

I also salute the vice president and his supports for waging a spirited = campaign. And I thank him for a call that I know was difficult to make. = Laura and I wish the vice president and Senator Lieberman and their fam= ilies the very best.

I have a lot to be thankful for tonight. I'm thankful for America and th= ankful that we were able to resolve our electoral differences in a peaceful= way.

I'm thankful to the American people for the great privilege of being abl= e to serve as your nextpresident.

I want to thank my wife and our daughters for their love. Laura's active= involvement as first lady hasmade Texas a better place, and she will be a = wonderful first lady of America. (Applause)

I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side, and America will be proud to = have him as our next vicepresident. (Applause)

Tonight I chose to speak from the chamber of the Texas House ofRepresent= atives because it has been a home to bipartisan cooperation. Herein a place= where Democrats have the majority, Republicans and Democratshave worked to= gether to do what is right for the people we represent.

We've had spirited disagreements. And in the end, we found constructive = consensus. It is anexperience I will always carry with me, an example I wil= l always follow.

I want to thank my friend, House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat, whointr= oduced me today. I want to thank the legislators from both politicalparties= with whom I've worked.

Across the hall in our Texas capitol is the state Senate. And I cannot h= elp but think of our mutualfriend, the former Democrat lieutenant governor,= Bob Bullock. His love for Texas and his ability to work ina bipartisan way= continue to be a model for all of us. (Applause)

The spirit of cooperation I have seen in this hall is what is needed in = Washington, D.C. It is thechallenge of our moment. After a difficult electi= on, we must put politics behind us and work together tomake the promise of = America available for every one of our citizens.

I am optimistic that we can change the tone in Washington, D.C. I believ= e things happen for a reason, and I hope the long wait of the last five wee= ks will heighten a desireto move beyond the bitterness and partisanship of = the recent past.

Our nation must rise above a house divided. Americans share hopes andgoa= ls and values far more important than any political disagreements. Republic= ans want the best for our nation, and so do Democrats. Our votesmay differ,= but not our hopes.

I know America wants reconciliation and unity. I know Americans wantprog= ress. And we must seize this moment and deliver.

Together, guided by a spirit of common sense, common courtesy andcommon = goals, we can unite and inspire the American citizens.

Together, we will work to make all our public schools excellent, teachin= g every student of everybackground and every accent, so that no child is le= ft behind.

Together we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure = retirement for generations to come.

Together we will strengthen Medicare and offer prescription drug coverag= e to all of our seniors.

Together we will give Americans the broad, fair and fiscally responsible= tax relief they deserve.

Together we'll have a bipartisan foreign policy true to our values and t= rue to our friends, and we willhave a military equal to every challenge and= superior to every adversary.

Together we will address some of society's deepest problems one person a= t a time, by encouragingand empowering the good hearts and good works of th= e American people.

This is the essence of compassionate conservatism and it will be a found= ation of my administration.

These priorities are not merely Republican concerns or Democratic concer= ns; they are American responsibilities.

During the fall campaign, we differed about the details of these proposa= ls, but there was remarkableconsensus about the important issues before us:= excellent schools, retirement and health security, tax relief, a strong mi= litary, a more civil society.

We have discussed our differences. Now it is time to find common ground = and build consensus to make America a beacon of opportunity in the 21st cen= tury.

I'm optimistic this can happen. Our future demands it and our history pr= oves it. Two hundred years ago, in the election of 1800, America faced anot= her close presidential election. A tie in the Electoral College put the out= come into the hands of Congress.

After six days of voting and 36 ballots, the House of Representatives el= ected Thomas Jefferson the third president of the United States. That elect= ion brought the first transfer of power from one party to another in our ne= w democracy.

Shortly after the election, Jefferson, in a letter titled "Reconciliatio= n and Reform," wrote this. "The steady character of our countrymen is a roc= k to which we may safely moor; unequivocal in principle, reasonable in mann= er. We should be able to hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of fr= eedom and harmony."

Two hundred years have only strengthened the steady character of America= . And so as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon = that character: respect for each other, respect for our differences, generosity of spirit, and a willingness to work hard and work = together to solve any problem.

I have something else to ask you, to ask every American. I ask for you t= o pray for this great nation. Iask for your prayers for leaders from both p= arties. I thank you for your prayers for me and my family, and I ask you to pray for Vice President Gore and his family.

I have faith that with God's help we as a nation will move forward toget= her as one nation, indivisible. And together we will create and America tha= t is open, so every citizen has access to the American dream; an America th= at is educated, so every child has the keys to realize that dream; and an A= merica that isunited in our diversity and our shared American values that a= re larger than race or party.

I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. T= he president of the United States is the president of every single American= , of every race and every background.

Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interes= ts and I will work to earn yourrespect.

I will be guided by President Jefferson's sense of purpose, to stand for= principle, to be reasonable inmanner, and above all, to do great good for = the cause of freedom and harmony.

The presidency is more than an honor. It is more than an office. It is a= charge to keep, and I will giveit my all.

Thank you very much and God bless America.

The following is the co= ncession statement of Vice President Albert Gore Jr:

Good evening.

Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on b= ecoming the 43rd President of the United States, and I promised him that I = wouldn't call him back this time.

I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to h= eal the divisions of thecampaign and the contest through which we just pass= ed.

Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham =

Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, "P= artisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you, Mr. President, and = God bless you."

Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-ele= ct Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must nowbe put aside, and may = God bless his stewardship of this country.

Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly nei= ther of us wanted it to happen.Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved,= as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions ofour democracy.

Over the library of one of our great law schools is inscribed the motto,= "Not under man but under God and law." That's the ruling principle of Amer= ican freedom, the source of our democratic liberties. I've tried to make it= my guide throughout this contest as it has guided America's deliberations = of all the complex issues of the past five weeks.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while Istr= ongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finalit= y of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral Colle= ge.

And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of= our democracy, I offer my concession.

I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally,= to honor the new president elect and do everything possible to help him br= ing Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declarat= ion of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.

Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and supported= the cause for which we have fought. Tipper and I feel a deep gratitude to = Joe and Hadassah Lieberman who brought passion and high purpose to our part= nership and opened new doors, not just for our campaign but for our country= .

This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God's unforeseen = paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common groun= d, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that weare one people with= a shared history and a shared destiny.

Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated= , as fiercely fought, withtheir own challenges to the popular will.

= Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And = each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the resultpeace= fully and in the spirit of reconciliation.

So let it be with us.

I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our di= sappointment must be overcome by our love of country.

And I say to our fellow members of the world community, let no one see t= his contest as a sign ofAmerican weakness. The strength of American democra= cy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome.

Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election mig= ht

hamper the next president in the conduct of his office. I do not belie= ve it need be so.

President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to a= ssist him in the conduct of hislarge responsibilities.

I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans -- I p= articularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. = This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we = close ranks and come together when the contest is done.

And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences= , now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than th= at which divides us.

While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a high= er duty than the one we owe topolitical party. This is America and we put c= ountry before party. We will stand together behind our new president. =

As for what I'll do next, I don't know the answer to that one yet= . Like many of you, I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with fam= ily and old friends. I know I'll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fenc= es, literally and figuratively.

Some have asked whether I have any regrets and I do have one regret: tha= t I didn't get the chance to stay and fight for the American people over th= e next four years, especially for those who need burdens lifted and barrier= s removed, especially for those who feel their voices have not been heard. = I heard you and I will not forget.

I've seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It's worth fig= hting for and that's a fight I'll never stop.

As for the battle that ends tonight, I do believe as my father once said= , that no matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve as well as victory t= o shake the soul and let the glory out.

So for me this campaign ends as it began: with the love of Tipper and ou= r family; with faith in God and in the country I have been so proud to serv= e, from Vietnam to the vice presidency; and with gratitude to our truly tir= eless campaign staff and volunteers, including all those who worked so hard= in Florida for the last 36 days.

Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending str= uggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around = the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.

In the words of our great hymn, "America, America": "Let us crown thy go= od with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."

And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time f= or me to go.

Thank you and good night, and God bless America.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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