Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey we have traveled together and the future of our nation. Really, just one more vain attempt to rub some of that tarnish off my legacy
Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose story reflects the enduring promise of our land. The enduring promise that if one person fucks up the country so bad, people will vote for anybody they see as the complete opposite to incompetent cronyism
This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.Whose names I can't remember
Tonight I am filled with gratitude -- to Vice President [Dick]Cheney for never offering to take me pheasant hunting and members of the administration the ones who won't be writing tell-all books distancing themselves from this administration so they may have a career while I'm clearing brush off my ranch in Crawford; to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my life; to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna; to my parents, whose examples have provided strength for a lifetime.
And above all, I thank the American people for the trust you have given me. I'm just sorry it was so misplaced I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits. Taking for granted they weren't prayers for my immediate removal from office And I thank you for the countless acts of courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years. None of them coming from anyone in this administration, our immediate families, or anyone within the Republican party
This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house -- September 11, 2001. Once more, I'll try to convince you my biggest failure was really a triumph
That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock.
I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93.
I remember Arlene Howard, who gave me her fallen son's police shield as a reminder of all that was lost. And I still carry his badge. Because when I'm not pretending to be a cowboy, I like to pretend I'm a policeman
As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. Much like the one I received on August 6, 2001, only now I didn't ignore them And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.
Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Into fascist organizations intent on spying on millions of Americans
Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists' movements, as well as violate the privacy of every American citizen freeze their finances and break up their plots But enough about Bernie Madoff. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them. Not really, but would you believe the people who live in the same part of the planet from whence said terrorists came?
Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school. Except in the parts still under the rule of the Taliban
Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States. There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. Mainly because I refuse to see the truth as it may pierce my protective bubble and reveal me to myself as the biggest jackass ever to inhabit the Oval Office
America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil Just don't mention that it had gone that long under Bill Clinton as well. This is a tribute to those who toil day and night to keep us safe -- law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.
Our nation is blessed to have citizens who volunteer to defend us in this time of danger. I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. But have as of yet to have visited any family of servicemen killed in my wars America owes you a debt of gratitude. But I cut your veteran benefits anyways
And to all our men and women in uniform listening tonight: There has been no higher honor than serving as your commander in chief. When not dressing up like a cowboy, or pretending to be a policeman, being a soldier is next on the listThe battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. And the other is the Democratic Party
The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God and that liberty and justice light the path to peace. This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. We instead chose to install puppet regimes who bend to the will of the US corpocracy And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens.
When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. That's why I had to commit to vote fraud in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio in 2004 When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. Which is why we decided to destroy the economy So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. Except in Gaza, where we are celebrating slaughter, mayhem and brutal repression
We are standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations. Once again, with the exception of the Palestinians
For eight years, we have also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home. because when you've made things as shitty as we have, hope is all people have Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. Or turning to crystal meth
A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled And bringing untold wealth to Big Pharma. Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes. The addicted and suffering are finding new hope through faith-based programs. Giving them a new addiction
Vulnerable human life is better protected. Once again, except in Gaza Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled. America's air, water, and lands are measurably cleaner. And the Federal bench includes wiseguy new members like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.
When challenges to our prosperity emerged, we rose to meet them. Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisive measures to safeguard our economy. By ensuring that our rich banker friends could still live like kings on the backs of the remaining middle class
These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted. All Americans are in this together. But only the working class will really suffer And together, with determination and hard work, we will restore our economy to the path of growth.Hell, we'll grow it right out of here!
We will show the world once again the resilience of America's free enterprise system. By bailing out major corporations with taxpayer's money Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks.One time when I wanted to play policeman, I couldn't find my badge There are things I would do differently if given the chance. I would have never had asked for pretzels, as an example Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. Or at least the top one percent of our country I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. Well, I would have if I had a conscience
You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions. The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.
While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago,Once again, I remind you of my greatest failure as a way of turning it into my moment of glory the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack.
America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. Well, we did, but I'll never admit it But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.
At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. protecting people can never be as good as keeping them in constant fear
Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.
As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee tonight -- America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Of course, my idea of good includes mass genocide and senseless slaughter
Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, except, once again, in Palestine everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right.Ditto This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth.Ditto We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace. Okay, from now on, when I say peace justice protecting the innocent and all that other crap, be advised it doesn't apply to the people in Gaza
President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." I once said some thing about putting food on your family, what was I on?As I leave the house he occupied two centuries ago, I share that optimism. America is a young country, full of vitality, constantly growing and renewing itself. And even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.
I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people.
This is a nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a nation where citizens show calm in times of danger and compassion in the face of suffering. And still manage to go shopping We see examples of America's character all around us.
And Laura and I have invited some of them to join us in the White House this evening. We see America's character in Dr. Tony Recasner, a principal who opened a new charter school from the ruins of Hurricane Katrina. We see it in Julio Medina, a former inmate who leads a faith-based program to help prisoners returning to society.
We see it in Staff Sgt. Aubrey McDade, who charged into an ambush in Iraq and rescued three of his fellow Marines. We see America's character in Bill Krissoff, a surgeon from California. His son Nathan, a Marine, gave his life in Iraq.
When I met Dr. Krissoff and his family, he delivered some surprising news: He told me he wanted to join the Navy Medical Corps in honor of his son. This good man was 60 years old -- 18 years above the age limit.
But his petition for a waiver was granted, and for the past year he has trained in battlefield medicine. Lt. Commander Krissoff could not be here tonight, because he will soon deploy to Iraq, where he will help save America's wounded warriors and uphold the legacy of his fallen son. In citizens like these, we see the best of our country -- resilient and hopeful, caring and strong.
These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there is more ahead.
But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire ... never falter ... and never fail. because I can never be elected to this office again It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your president. There have been good days and tough days.
But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people. I have been blessed to represent this Nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other: citizen of the United States of America.
And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God bless this house and our next President. And may God bless you and our wonderful country.