I thought Senator John McCain’s speech to the Republican
National Convention on August 30 was outstanding. Following
is the text.
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
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
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
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
We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great
challenge of our time.
My friends in the Democratic Party 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.
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 not 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
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
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
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 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
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 it if 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, and we’ll never surrender.
Hott Spotts will return September 9.