(this is the second part of the speech which begins here)
We live in an information age, and so education and the intellectual capital of Americans are the key to our future. Each of us cares about education because it primarily affects our children and their future, and no one is more important to each of us and no dream is more important than that of a better, more secure, more prosperous life for our daughters and sons.
We in the federal government have tried many things and spent a lot of your money on education. Some of it has worked, and some of it hasn’t. We haven’t seen the ‘bang for our buck’ that we’d like, but neither have we seen an alternative but to spend what it takes to get our children educated. We’ve neglected one key factor. There is no substitute for involved, caring adult family members – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – in determining a child’s future success in school. In case any of you missed that, let me repeat it. There is no substitute for involved, caring adult family members – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – in determining a child’s future success in school. No government program, no physical facility, no library, nothing we can buy with money can be as effective as involved parents and the culture of achievement they can instill.
But not every child has those, and we refuse to leave them behind because of it. The glue that holds America together is hope; that hope is for mobility and a better future for ourselves and our children. Education and the opportunity for jobs that it brings are what brings both.
To that end, we are proposing a senior mentor program, in which neighborhood seniors can get training and part-time jobs as mentors to families and children. This is a small answer, and it may not ultimately be the right answer to this difficult problem; but the solution is in a constellation of small answers like this one. We intend to challenge and fund promising programs designed from the school districts upward, to monitor the success or failure of those programs closely, and to expand and extend the programs that work, and close the programs that don’t.
Which brings me to a broader issue. We in government propose programs; we live to solve problems or we wouldn’t be here. Not all of them work, and others of them outlive their usefulness. The Democratic leadership has met and agreed that we will hereby offer to work with the Republican leadership to prune unsuccessful and unnecessary programs from the Federal budget. We will commit that for every new dollar of expenditure (tax or direct) we propose, we will find at least fifty cents in savings to offset it, and will work to do so from programs traditionally supported by the Democratic constituencies. We challenge our Republican colleagues to do the same thing.
Each of our parties has sacred cows which we preserve simply because we always have. The challenges we face today are simply too great to keep doing business as usual, and we have to agree – both Democrats and Republicans – to look hard at ours and work to cull those that provide no real benefit.
The challenges we face today are driven largely by external events, which brings me to the topic of the hour. What do we do about Iraq?
First, let me be clear that the moment the first aviator flies her jet from its aircraft carrier, we will be at war, and we will stand behind our president and our troops. But we are here to advise the President, and to make sure that when we act we do so as a nation, because we must act together or not act at all.
The President must make a clear case for why we must invade Iraq, and what we will do once we win.
What we cannot do is to look at Iraq in isolation.
We cannot look at it in isolation from our allies.
We cannot look at in isolation from the rest of the Islamic world.
Elements of the Islamic world are at war with us, make no mistake about it. The acts of September 11 were not isolated; they were the culmination of a long chain of warnings and actions that struck at our people, symbols, and interests abroad.
The acts of September 11 were acts of war. If they had been committed by the soldiers of any nation, that nation today would sit under American military authority, and the leaders of that nation, had they survived, would face imprisonment for their crimes.
This government exists to defend the people of the United States from just such an attack as we have suffered, and no government could allow such an attack to take place without responding, or having suffered this attack, risk more terrible attacks without action.
The question is what action should we take? Is invading Iraq the right one?
Legally, we believe that the United States has grounds for war. Saddam Hussein had violated – and the United Nations inspectors have confirmed his violation – the terms of the cease fire that he signed after he invaded Kuwait and our troops and the troops of our multinational alliance defeated him.
But the President has not yet connected the dots.
He has not yet laid out his best facts in support of invading Iraq…we know this because we have seen some of them. But it isn’t enough for him to say “trust me” or for me to say “trust us” based on partial information. This is a decision that must be made in the full light of day.
He has not laid out his plan for what we will do once we win, and how defeating the armies of Iraq – who I ly pray will be intelligent enough to immediately surrender and not stand in the way of or try to harm our fighting forces – leads us to defeating the shadowy forces of terrorism.
Let me take a moment to speak to American Muslims and to Muslims the world over. Horrible acts are being done in your name and in the name of your religion and deity. I reject the notion that this is a war between the Muslim world and the West. But you undermine my case when your official media broadcast hate and incitement, when your governments turn a blind eye to terrorists and their sponsors, and when you allow those who strike at the people of this nation – not with words, not with economic boycotts or peaceful action, but with violence – to act in your name without raising your hands or voices – you risk the wrath of the American people. We are a tolerant party in a land of tolerant people, but we must have partners for peace on the other side. You cannot broadcast hate in Arabic and then turn and speak of peace in English and expect us to ignore it any longer.
Great leaders bring forces together; they unite people, interests, and nations in great causes. We expect greatness from our Presidents in general, and we demand that greatness from our President today.
We expect nothing less, and the times demand nothing less.
We stand as the loyal opposition, ever ready to challenge the specifics – the means – but in full support of the goal – of a great and united United States in a peaceful, free, and prosperous world.
No, thank you…
(edited for grammar)