presidential debate

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    Ex liberal philosopher and writer Bill Whittle, essay on GWB/Kerry debate (extract)

    ....I initially had many doubts about George W. Bush. Actually, thatÕs not quite fair. The truth is, I despised the man. But then something happened.

    I was walking across the studio lot to my car on the night of September 20th, 2001. I ignored the NOT A WALKWAY! signs in the grip and lighting department: cutting through the building saved me having to go around three giant sound stages to get to my car. Barricades had been put up on the back gate, and security guards were checking our trunks for explosives and running a mirror under every vehicle that drove onto the lot. And you couldnÕt hear a jet fly over without wondering... what if? What now?

    You may remember those days. I do.

    It was getting dark as I walked down that narrow corridor, flanked by enormous movie lights and innumerable c-stands. And there, at the desk, was a group of six or seven grips watching a small color television in perfect silence: an ancient TV, the greens and oranges radioactive and bleeding --- the Acid Channel.

    I watched George W. Bush give the best speech I have ever heard: better, by far, than FDRÕs Pearl Harbor address. Better, even, than the tinny, lilting, lisping sound of ChurchillÕs immortal call to fight them on the beaches.

    As I watched that speech unwind, I knew, instantly and unequivocally, that this President understood what we were up against, the moment he said:

    We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.

    Yes, precisely: not desperately aggrieved parties, not freedom fighters, not anything more than thugs and murderers who want to impose their way of life on the world. Fascists. Ruthless, fanatical bastards sworn to our destruction.

    Then, three paragraphs later, this:

    Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists . From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

    This line, this doctrine Ð either youÕre with us or the terrorists Ð has drawn derision and scorn from the nuanced sophisticates from around the world. What they refuse to see is that in one brilliant stroke it cuts the camouflage away from terror, and in effect neutralizes the very lever that makes International Terror so effective a tool: deniability. More on this in a moment.

    I sat amazed at the confidence and the vision President Bush outlined in that speech. I remember saying out loud, to no one in particular, "I was wrong about this man." A few of the grips nodded in silence. None of us took our eyes off the TV screen.

    It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came -- where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

    And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.

    I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

    And there stood a man I had not seen before Ð and sadly, have not seen often since Ð holding the shield of a dead hero in his hand, promising not to tire, or falter, or fail, until this vague and mysterious war was won. And I swore to myself, right then and there, that I would support this President, come what may. And in the intervening years, as the criticisms and hysteria rose in pitch to the point where only dogs can hear, I have stood by him and his policies, and I do so proudly, to this day. (cont'd)
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