What Bush Might Have Said

AP; September 1, 2005:

My fellow Americans,

Today I learned tragedy has reached its muscular and frightening hand into the southeast corner of our country. I have watched with worry and then horror as the New Orleans levvies broke and as both water and chaos flooded through the streets of that beleaguered town. My aides tell me there are thousands of our fellow-citizens stranded in their homes, in churches, and in sports’ stadiums. Many of those most affected by the destruction are those society forgets and leaves behind in the uncaring rush of capitalism–many are poor, many were heretofore forgotten. We must realize many who had little before the flood now find their little has turned to nothing.


Fortunately, my fellow citizens, we live in a blessed country–our fields and orchards bloom with food, our economy is regaining its former momentum, and many of us find ourselves with enough and to spare. America has often thought of itself as a city set upon a hill, a light to all the world–this is the time for us to make our light shine for all the world to see. We will show America is great not because of its might, but because of its ability to mobilize itself for the Right. We will take this occasion to demonstrate that strength comes through compassion and that, in America, when push comes to shove, no one is forgotten.

The text of my speech today is this: go and save New Orleans. Whatever you do, wherever you are, whatever you have to give–give a little bit more. Dig deep, search your hearts, find the wherewithal within yourselves to give more than you are accustomed to giving. Remember with me our fellow citizens who struggle without respite in the boggy and repressive heat of that once-bustling southern metropolis. Think of infants without cribs, children without toys, men without homes, and women without a place to lay their heads. Realize that amidst our abundance, thousands are crying out in the heat and the darkness–it is our duty as fellow citizens to go and bring these people to safety, for in America, no call for help should go unheeded and no reaching arms should be left without an embrace.

I declare tomorrow a national day of fasting. Many religious traditions teach fasting as a way of sacrificing personal welfare on behalf of others. I have contacted the organizing officers of the United Way and they have agreed to allow the federal government to utilize their donation-collection infrastructure to gather funds. I invite all–men, women, and children–to forego breakfast and lunch tomorrow and then to donate the corresponding funds to this United Way trust; I assure you: there will be no overhead, no administrative costs, all monies will be given directly to those who suffer. This sacrifice will unite our country in the bonds of charity and assure that this disaster be remembered not as a pock-mark upon the face of America but as a sure sign of America’s character and compassion.

Fellow citizens, I call on doctors, nurses, the able-bodied, and anyone who can offer assitance to call our national Katrina hotline. Officers from the United Way are awaiting your calls, ready with assignments in hand. We must not donate only money, but ourselves–our knowledge, our expertise, and our strength. We must enter or surround that besieged city and assure its occupants have whence to turn.

Fellow citizens, America is more than a nation, it is an idea, a principle, a distant star–anyone familiar with our history knows we have often fallen woefully short in reaching toward the heavens. Indeed, the poverty rampant in New Orleans before this flooding, not to mention the racial stratification which haunts that city’s streets, are both testaments to the gap between the American ideal and the American reality. Nonetheless, the miracle of America is not in our position but in our trajectory, not in where we are now but in where we will be tomorrow–that City on a Hill, that promised land which beckons us is our testament to the world that someday, somewhere, a society will learn that while capitalism may make the trains run on time, it is something deeper and more meaningful which gives humans purpose. America’s star may be unreachable, but it is in reaching we achieve greatness.

I invite you then, my fellow Americans, not to listen but to act. Forego what comforts entice you in the coming days and provide for those who need your help. I am headed to New Orleans now–I will tell them America is on its way, I will tell them the rescuers will soon be arriving. Let us, this day and always, assure we make America great.

Good evening, and God bless America, the world, and especially those suffering in New Orleans.

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Published in: on October 23, 2006 at 1:58 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A wonderful thought.

  2. ….if he truly cared. Do Mormons need any more examples that Bush is not their friend, and not in line with our principles and values?

  3. I agree Daniel. If you agree with Bush’s policies, cool. But if you like Bush because you think that he reflects Christian values, you are seriously mistaken.

  4. Daniel and Ian–

    I, obivously, don’t know Bush personally and I have no way to judge his motivations. I have to agree, however, that his actions, particularly on this matter, left me at a loss as to his convictions and even his thought-process. What hapenned in NO seemed to provide such a clear chance for tha nation (not to mention the executive branch) to come to the rescue of those in need, but Bush simply did not seem to understand.

  5. Wow: It’s not often I hear the voice of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, and Brigham Young all in the same short speech.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if George Bush’s heart and voice sounded like this?

  6. The allusions are there, I’ll grant you that; now if I only had his charisma, his rhetoric, his spirit, or his motivational capactiy, I’d be all set.

  7. That tragedy really made people to ask a lot of very difficult questions. I talked to a very inspirational man on the phone at my job who was a survivor. I will not tell his story here in much detail as he was going to seek ways to spread the word of what he experienced. I will say that he was a beautiful person who was caring more about others than self in the midst of the dangers.

    I am so humbled by those who risk their lives to save others whether they were in the military or civillians. These feelings are heightened knowing the dire circumstances there.

    I think it is good that people are still mindful of this tragedy although we are not at an anniversary date. I know of someone from the Nauvoo forum that went during a break in Medical school that he attends in the state of Washington to gut a house in New Orleans.

  8. Hi, Tyler. I hate to thread-jack like this (if it’s a problem, just delete this comment!) Anyway, I’m a Mormon emergency physician, and I have enjoyed your posts for a while. I recently started a global health blog. Stop by sometime: http://globalhealth.wordpress.com/

  9. Well done, Ty. I suppose, in fairness, that hindsight is 20/20. But that being said, your writing exudes the clarity of thought that our Commander-in-Chief does not–and did not in the hour when that kind of Brighamesque forthrightness was most needed.

    I’d recommend you seek out a post as a speech writer, but considering your future in medicine and Mr. Bush’s future in politics, I wouldn’t jump just yet.

  10. Drew,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Writing speeches would be easier than learning the kidney.

  11. Barb–

    As you intimate, many Americans acted heroically in the face of such a terrible tragedy. I wonder what miracles we might have accomplished together if the Commander-in-Chief had asked us to come together in sacrifice–I am quite sure it would have been a powerful moment.

  12. I wish there were such stirring words as the images of that time period still haunt me though I was far removed from the setting. As it was, there were supplies such as water that were turned away before it is known there would be such a dire need.


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