(New York Sun Staff Editorial, NYSun.com) – President Bush’s speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations was an eloquent articulation of a simple point. “My country,” he said, “desires peace.” He went on at some length, seeking to encourage and inspirit those in other countries who are looking for America to stand fast in the struggle against oppression or who have already taken great risks for reform. He spoke to the people of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Darfur, to the Palestinian Arabs, to the Syrians. But what he did most of all is state in a straightforward way that, despite what America’s enemies are insisting, what America wants for itself and the other people of the world is peace.
The thing that struck us is why so few other American politicians are saying this. No Democrat seems prepared to assert this simple proposition. Senator Kerry doesn’t speak up for America; he speaks up for those who are complaining about America. Senator Clinton has refrained from attacking Mr. Bush on foreign policy and the war. But when it comes to a lively defense of America’s intentions in this war, the cat has her tongue. Senator Schumer’s, too. Vice President Gore spends his days plumping for the environment. President Clinton, the most unifying figure on the Democratic side, is building his international forum around the gliterrati of Hollywood and the fashion world.
Only Mr. Bush seems prepared to wade into this fray with a good word for America’s intentions in a war that America didn’t start and that Congress has repeatedly, despite all the controversy, underwritten. He spoke yesterday of “a more hopeful world . . . a world beyond terror – where the voices of moderation are empowered . . .” Speaking directly to the people of the Middle East, he said from the podium at Turtle Bay: “Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you.” What is it about this truth that the opposition political figures in America have a hard time seconding? Why are they not rushing to beat Mr. Bush to the point?
It’s not a question of smart speechwriting, though Mr. Bush certainly has that. What one hears from those who have helped craft speeches for Mr. Bush is that this particular president – like, incidentally, Reagan before him – is himself an extraordinary editor. He knows what he’s doing. Listening to him, we couldn’t help but wonder whether when he gets back home after a long day like yesterday he doesn’t sit down and ask himself how he got so lucky – to emerge as the only politician standing up for America. One never knows how an election is going to come out, but it’s not surprising that he’s surging in the latest polls (USAToday Gallup has his approval rating suddenly up to 44%). Our conviction has long been that whatever the American people are, they are not dumb. They, in their millions, are watching this situation, and they are going to appreciate someone willing to put in a good word at the United Nations for the country they love.
Posted at NYSun.com on Sept. 20, 2006. Reprinted here Sept. 21, 2006 with permission from The New York Sun. Visit the website at NYSun.com.
1. What is the main idea of this editorial?
2. What adjectives do you think the Sun’s editors would use to describe President Bush’s speech? (Read/listen to the President’s speech here.)
What adjectives would you use to describe President Bush’s speech? Why?
3. After listening to President Bush’s speech, what struck the editors about other American politicians? Then, what questions do the editors ask about President Bush’s political opponents? Do you think their questions are fair? Explain your answer.
4. What point do the editors make about Congress and the war in paragraph 3?
5. What conclusion do the editors make about the American people’s reaction to the President’s speech?
Ask at least 2 adults (parents, relatives, neighbors) who have watched the speech what they thought of it. (Read/listen to the President’s speech here.)