Webb for President!
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, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
> Below is the text of the Democratic Response to the
> State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery.
> Good evening.
> I'm Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this
> year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the
> settlement of Jamestown an event that marked the
> first step in the long journey that has made us the
> greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.
> It would not be possible in this short amount of
> time to actually rebut the President's message, nor
> would it be useful. Let me simply say that we in the
> Democratic Party hope that this administration is
> serious about improving education and healthcare for
> all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities
> as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.
> Further, this is the seventh time the President
> has mentioned energy independence in his state of the
> union message, but for the first time this exchange is
> taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic
> Party. We are looking for affirmative solutions that
> will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our
> dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of
> entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy
> programs. We look forward to working with the
> President and his party to bring about these changes.
> There are two areas where our respective parties
> have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to
> take a few minutes to address them tonight. The first
> relates to how we see the health of our economy how
> we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are
> properly shared among all Americans. The second
> regards our foreign policy how we might bring the
> war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also
> allow us to continue to fight the war against
> international terrorism, and to address other
> strategic concerns that our country faces around the
> When one looks at the health of our economy, it's
> almost as if we are living in two different countries.
> Some say that things have never been better. The stock
> market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate
> profits. But these benefits are not being fairly
> shared. When I graduated from college, the average
> corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker
> did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it
> takes the average worker more than a year to make the
> money that his or her boss makes in one day.
> Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time
> lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though
> the productivity of American workers is the highest in
> the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College
> tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing
> base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good
> American jobs are being sent along with them.
> In short, the middle class of this country, our
> historic backbone and our best hope for a strong
> society in the future, is losing its place at the
> table. Our workers know this, through painful
> experience. Our white-collar professionals are
> beginning to understand it, as their jobs start
> disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in
> this age of globalization, their government has a duty
> to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in
> the international marketplace.
> In the early days of our republic, President
> Andrew Jackson established an important principle of
> American-style democracy that we should measure the
> health of our society not at its apex, but at its
> base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall
> Street, but with the living conditions that exist on
> Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.
> And under the leadership of the new Democratic
> Congress, we are on our way to doing so. The House
> just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten
> years, and the Senate will soon follow. We've
> introduced a broad legislative package designed to
> regain the trust of the American people. We've
> established a tone of cooperation and consensus that
> extends beyond party lines. We're working to get the
> right things done, for the right people and for the
> right reasons.
> With respect to foreign policy, this country has
> patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four
> years. Many, including myself, warned even before the
> war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take
> our energy and attention away from the larger war
> against terrorism, and that invading and occupying
> Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the
> most violent and turbulent corner of the world.
> I want to share with all of you a picture that I
> have carried with me for more than 50 years. This is
> my father, when he was a young Air Force captain,
> flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. He sent
> us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him,
> back here at home. When I was a small boy, I used to
> take the picture to bed with me every night, because
> for more than three years my father was deployed,
> unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or
> in bases where there was no family housing. I still
> keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother
> and others had to make, over and over again, as my
> father gladly served our country. I was proud to
> follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in
> Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine
> helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now
> serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.
> Like so many other Americans, today and throughout
> our history, we serve and have served, not for
> political reasons, but because we love our country. On
> the political issues those matters of war and peace,
> and in some cases of life and death we trusted the
> judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they
> would be right, that they would measure with accuracy
> the value of our lives against the enormity of the
> national interest that might call upon us to go into
> harm's way.
> We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we
> gave it. But they owed us sound judgment, clear
> thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that
> the threat to our country was equal to the price we
> might be called upon to pay in defending it.
> The President took us into this war recklessly. He
> disregarded warnings from the national security
> adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff
> of the army, two former commanding generals of the
> Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the
> director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
> and many, many others with great integrity and long
> experience in national security affairs. We are now,
> as a nation, held hostage to the predictable and
> predicted disarray that has followed.
> The war's costs to our nation have been
> The damage to our reputation around the world.
> The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of
> international terrorism.
> And especially the precious blood of our citizens
> who have stepped forward to serve.
> The majority of the nation no longer supports the
> way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of
> our military. We need a new direction. Not one step
> back from the war against international terrorism. Not
> a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility
> of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong
> regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our
> soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a
> formula that will in short order allow our combat
> forces to leave Iraq.
> On both of these vital issues, our economy and our
> national security, it falls upon those of us in
> elected office to take action.
> Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I
> am reminded of the situation President Theodore
> Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century.
> America was then, as now, drifting apart along class
> lines. The so-called robber barons were
> unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the
> national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the
> bottom were threatening revolt.
> Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions.
> He told his fellow Republicans that they must set
> themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate
> influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob
> rule on the other." And he did something about it.
> As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former
> general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower
> during the dark days of the Korean War, which had
> fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?"
> asked the General who had commanded our forces in
> Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became
> President, he brought the Korean War to an end.
> These Presidents took the right kind of action,
> for the benefit of the American people and for the
> health of our relations around the world. Tonight we
> are calling on this President to take similar action,
> in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he
> does not, we will be showing him the way.
> Thank you for listening. And God bless America.