is a Moment of Truth" for United Nations
Remarks at the 2003 "Congress of Tomorrow" Republican Retreat Reception
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
February 9, 2003
11:23 A.M. EST
Thank you, please be seated. Nothing like about an hour's speech for a Sunday
lunch. (Laughter.) Trying to loosen up my vocal chords for the week.
Thanks for having me. And thanks for -- thanks for serving our country. First,
I want to tell the family members who are here, I appreciate your sacrifice.
I know it's hard to leave a district and a state that you love. I know your
spouse is working incredibly long hours. And I want you to know that I feel
that you're just as important part of your spouse's mission. So on behalf of
a grateful nation, thank you all very much for the sacrifices you make. (Applause.)
I want to thank the Speaker and I want to thank Senator Frist for their leadership.
I'm confident in their abilities. I know we can work together. And I'm proud
to call them friends. And I want to thank DeLay for serving in the capacity
he does. He brings a lot of Texas wisdom into the House of Representatives.
(Laughter.) Texas tough, and I'm proud to call him friend, as well. I've known
Tom a long time and I'm confident by working together we can get a lot done.
I want to thank Santorum -- Rick Santorum, that is. And I want to thank Deborah
for putting on this event. Where are you Santorum? There you are. I know it's
not easy to herd cats. It's a lot easier when you do it in a beautiful place
like the Greenbriar, though. (Laughter.)
I want to thank Roy Blunt for being a good vote counter, and we're counting
on you to count. And I appreciate -- and Jon Kyl. Thank you, Jon, I'm honored
you're up here with us today.
So we've got some big challenges facing us. I don't exaggerate when I say this
is a significant year for our country, I truly believe that. My attitude, it
doesn't matter how high the hurdle is, we'll cross it. It doesn't matter how
big the obstacle is, we'll deal with it, because we represent the greatest country
on the face of the earth. (Applause.)
I know there's a lot of people paying attention to what's happening overseas,
and so am I. But I want to begin by reminding us that we've got a domestic agenda
that is positive and strong and hopeful and optimistic. We believe strongly
that if somebody is looking for work and can't find a job, then we've got to
do everything we can to grow our economy.
Our whole philosophy is based upon growth of the economy. We equate jobs and
growth. And we know the role of government is not to create wealth, but an environment
in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes, in which small businesses can
grow to be big businesses. (Applause.)
And that is why I am passionate about my plan to give people more money. The
more money they have in their more pockets -- in their pockets, the more likely
it is that somebody will find work. It is also important for us never to forget
that we represent the entrepreneurs of America, and that when you reduce the
individual income tax rates, you're putting money into the pockets of the sole
proprietorship or the limited partnership or the subchapter S. The tax reduction
plan that I want you to pass, and I want to sign, will put more money into the
pockets of the entrepreneurs of America, which is good for those who are looking
for work. (Applause.)
We've already passed it once. We had a pretty good battle. I see some of the
soldiers in the tax cut fight of 2001 sitting out there. I repeat what I said
earlier. If the tax relief is good two or four or five years from now, with
an economy that is not as strong as we want it to be, it is good enough today.
Let us get the tax relief plan passed. (Applause.)
And while we're doing it, it makes sense to help our seniors and to make the
tax code more fair. The double taxation of dividends is unfair. It is unfair
to tax profits and the distribution of those profits. And, therefore, the sake
of capital formation and for the sake of the lifestyle of the 10 million seniors
who receive dividend income, let us end the double taxation of dividends. (Applause.)
I want to appreciate those who are involved with appropriations for working
hard to get an appropriations bill to my desk as soon as possible. It would
be nice to get the 2003 issue out of the way, as we start to deal with the 2004
budget and appropriations process. I am serious about holding the line on federal
spending. I submitted a budget to you which sets clear priorities, meets those
priorities and will enable us to say to the American taxpayer: we are wise with
your money. And, therefore, I look forward to working with you to pass a budget
which is realistic and a budget which is responsible. (Applause.)
We will address the Medicare issue in a way which enables us to say as a country
we've fulfilled our promise to senior citizens. Medicine is becoming modern
-- Medicare isn't. And we have an obligation to the future of this country to
modernize the Medicare system, to fulfill the promise to thousands of seniors;
a system which includes more choice, more options and prescription drugs for
the senior citizens of this country. (Applause.)
We need an energy bill in America. (Applause.) A bill which encourages conservation
and exploration. We need a clear skies legislation so that we can say our Party
has led to reasonable, sane environmental policy. And we need a forest policy
in America. (Applause.)
A healthy forest initiative which enables us to maintain the vast treasures,
particularly of forest land in the west, and at the same time be wise about
how we clear underbrush so that we don't encourage forest fires that -- some
of the devastating forest fires that took place in the west this year. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with the Senate to get my judges confirmed. (Applause.)
I have named some really honorable people to the bench. I want to thank Senator
Hatch and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for kind of putting
aside all that political -- the politics that so dominated the discourse.
The first test, of course, is Miguel Estrada. Fabulous story. He's a great,
great jurist -- a lawyer, will be a great jurist. And I expect that he be given
a fair hearing on the floor of the Senate. I expect the people of the Senate
not to hold him up, not to try to talk his nomination into the ground, because
Miguel Estrada not only represents the American Dream, but will do us proud
on the bench. And I want to thank the Senators for standing strong for this
good nominee. And when the vote comes up, this guy is going to be confirmed,
and America -- the bench and America will be better for it. (Applause.)
I look forward to working with you on a compassion agenda, one that recognizes
that in our plenty there are people who hurt, there are people who need love
and compassion, there are people who wonder whether or not the American experience
is meant for them. I look forward to working to get the faith-based initiative
out of the House and the Senate. I look forward to getting the citizen service
act -- a reformed citizens service act passed, as well.
I want -- I'm going to Nashville tomorrow to talk about the compassion agenda.
We've got a role in Washington, but the biggest role, of course, takes place
in the neighborhoods of our country, when people hear the call to love somebody
like they'd like to be loved themselves; when people fully understand that one
person can make a significant difference in the life of somebody who hurts.
I'm going to reiterate my call for a mentoring initiative, aimed particularly
at junior high students, as well as children whose mom or dad may be in a prison.
I'm going to call for a focus on those who are addicted to drugs. Listen, we
will work hard to continue to drive the demand for drugs down, and interdict
supply. But there are sad souls in our society who are hooked on drugs. And
I look forward to working with the Congress to empower programs which works,
particularly faith-based programs which work, to help save Americans one heart,
one soul, one conscience at a time. (Applause.)
And as we show our compassion here at home, I feel strongly about our need to
show our compassion abroad, as well. Some of you have been to Africa, and have
seen the suffering. Some of you know firsthand the stories about thousands of
abandoned children who are in orphanages, crowded orphanages, because their
mom or dad -- and dad -- and/or dad have died because of AIDS. Some of you know
the startling statistics that the people of the continent face. It's a pandemic.
It's destruction of human life, the likes of which the modern world hasn't seen.
And we need to do something about it. (Applause.)
In my strong judgment, this nation needs to stand up and show our compassion
when a fellow human being suffers. See, if we say every life matters, if we
believe that every life has worth, that the Almighty God believes in the worth
of every individual -- if we believe that, then it makes sense for us to help
save lives when we can.
I want to work with you to get the AIDS initiative passed out of the Senate
and House as quickly as possible. It is a plan that is a plan of mercy. It's
an important initiative. It's a vital initiative. Because we're talking about
saving human life. We're talking about showing the world the great strength
and compassion of the United States of America. There is no doubt that when
you pass this initiative, when our time in Washington, D.C. is passed and we
go home and sitting around the ranch in Crawford, or the front porch in Plano,
or in Woodlands, that we'll say we heard the call, the cry of people who suffer
and we responded. And the world is a better place because of the actions we
And I believe the world will be a better place because of the actions we take
when it comes to fighting terror. First, I thank you all for your hard work
to get us a homeland security bill late last year. We'll work with the Congress
to implement that so that we can all say that we're doing everything we can
to protect the homeland. We've got other initiatives -- the bioshield initiative
is an important initiative and we look forward to working with the respective
committees and, of course, the House and the Senate, to get that passed.
The best way to secure the homeland is to continue to hunt the killers down
one at a time. The best way to deal with the threat we face is to find him and
bring him to justice, which is precisely what our military is doing right now.
We are sharing intelligence the likes of which we've never done before. We're
cutting off money. We've got some of our best units chasing these people down.
And one by one, we are dismantling their network.
The other day the Italians hauled some in. The Brits hauled some in. Any time
one of these people is arrested, whether we do it or not, we're making progress
against the shadowy killer network of al Qaeda. Slowly, but surely, we're bringing
them to justice. And we're not quitting until the American people are secure
and safe. (Applause.)
The issue facing our nation and the world is the extension of the war on terror
to places like Iraq. Prior to September the 11th, there was apparently no connection
between a place like Iraq and terror. Oh, sure, he had run some terrorist networks
out of his country, and that was of concern to us. But it was very difficult
to link a terrorist network and Saddam Hussein to the American soil. As a matter
of fact, it was very difficult to link any attack on the American soil, because
prior to September the 11th, we were confident that two oceans could protect
us from harm.
The world changed on September the 11th. Obviously, it changed for thousands
of people's lives for whom we still mourn. But it changed for America, and it's
very important that the American people understand the change. We are now a
battle ground. We are vulnerable. Therefore, we cannot ignore gathering threats
across the ocean. It used to be that we could pick or choose whether or not
we would become involved. If we saw a threat, it may be a threat to a friend,
in which case we would be involved, but never did we realize the threat could
be directed at the American people.
And that changed. And therefore, when we hear of stories about weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of a brutal dictator, who hates America, we need to
take that seriously, and we are. And when we find out there's links between
Baghdad and a killer who actually ordered the killing of one of our fellow citizens,
we've got to realize the -- what that means to our future.
And that's why this administration and this country is holding the U.N. Security
Council and the world to its demands that Saddam Hussein disarm. It is important
for the country to realize that Saddam Hussein has fooled the world for 12 years,
is used to fooling the world, is confident he can fool the world. He is -- wants
the world to think that hide and seek is a game that we should play. And it's
You see, our country recognizes, and a lot of other countries now recognize
as well, the role of the inspector is to show up and verify whether Saddam Hussein
is disarming. That's the role of the inspector. The inspectors -- there's 104
of them -- the role of the inspector is not to go into a state the size of --
a country the size of California and try to find out where this guy has hid
things over a 12 year period of time.
And the inspectors have gone to Iraq, and it is clear that not only is Saddam
Hussein deceiving, it is clear he's not disarming. And so you'll see us over
the next short period of time, working with friends and allies and the United
Nations to bring that body along. And it's a moment of truth for the United
Nations. The United Nations gets to decide, shortly, whether or not it is going
to be relevant, in terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean
But one thing is certain, for the sake of peace and for the sake of security,
the United States and our friends and allies, we will disarm Saddam Hussein
if he will not disarm himself. (Applause.)
And so we've got a lot to do -- we've got a lot to do to leave behind a safer
country and a better country and a safer and better world. But I'm glad history
has called this country into action at this point in time, because there's no
doubt in my mind, when we make our mind up, we can achieve a lot.
And there's no doubt in my mind, when the United States acts abroad and home,
we do so based upon values -- particularly the value that we hold dear to our
hearts, and that is, everybody ought to be free. I want to repeat what I said
during my State of the Union to you. Liberty is not America's gift to the world.
What we believe strongly, and what we hold dear, is liberty is God's gift to
mankind. And we hold that value precious. And we believe it is true.
And as we work to make the world a safer place, we'll also work to make the
world a freer place. And as we work to make America a freer place, we'll work
to make it a more compassionate place. Big obstacles have been placed in our
way. Working together, we will achieve what we need to achieve to cross those
Thank you all for your interest. May God bless you, and may God bless America.
11:45 A.M. EST