Bush: Angry Left Won’t Break McCain
President George Bush opened the Republican convention 1.1 tonight stirring the party faithful with a heart-felt endorsement of the GOP ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Bush spoke via a video link from the White House, where he is monitoring developments from Hurricane Gustav.
At one point the president gave the statement of the night: “If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure that the angry left never will.” The convention roared its approval. A video clip can be found here.
“In these past eight years I’ve sat at the Resolute desk and reviewed the daily intelligence briefings, the threat assessments and the reports from our commanders on the front lines,” Bush told the delegates. “I’ve stood in the ruins of buildings knocked down by killers and promised the survivors I would never let them down. I know the hard choices that fall solely to a president. John McCain’s life has prepared him to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation.”
“On October 26, 1967, on his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, a surface-to-air missile slammed into John’s A-4 Skyhawk jet, blowing it out of the sky. When John ejected, part of the plane hit him — breaking his right knee, his left arm, his right arm in three places. An angry mob got to him. A rifle butt broke his shoulder. A bayonet pierced his ankle and his groin. They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return.
“John McCain said ‘No.’ After days of neglect, covered in grime, lying in his own waste in a filthy room, a doctor attempted to set John’s right arm without success and without anesthesia. His other broken bones and injuries were not treated. John developed a high fever and dysentery. He weighed barely a hundred pounds. Expecting him to die, his captors placed him in a cell with two other POWs who also expected him to die. But with their help, John McCain fought on. He persevered.
“So then they put him in solitary confinement. For over two years. Isolation. Incredible heat beating on a tin roof. A light bulb in his cell burning 24 hours a day. Boarded-up cell windows blocking any breath of fresh air. The oppressive heat causing boils the size of baseballs under his arms. The outside world limited to what he could see through a crack in a door.
“We hear a lot of talk about hope these days. John McCain knows about hope. That’s all he had. For propaganda purposes, his captors offered to let him go home. John McCain refused. He refused to leave ahead of men who’d been there longer. He refused to abandon his conscience and his honor, even for his freedom. He refused, even though his captors warned him, ‘It will be very bad for you.’ They were right. It was. The guards cracked ribs, broke teeth off at the gums. They cinched a rope around his arms and painfully drew back his shoulders. Over four days, every two to three hours, the beatings resumed. During one especially fierce beating, he fell, again breaking his arm.
“John was beaten for communicating with other prisoners. He was beaten for not communicating with so-called ‘peace delegations.’ He was beaten for not giving information during interrogations. When his captors wanted the names of other pilots in his squadron, John gave them the name of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. Whenever John was returned to his cell — walking if he could, dragged if he couldn’t — as he passed his fellow POWs, he would often call out to them. He’d smile, often give them a thumbs-up.
“For five-and-a-half years this went on. John McCain’s bones may have been broken but his spirit never was. Now, being a POW certainly doesn’t qualify anyone to be President. But it does reveal character. This is the kind of character that civilizations from the beginning of history have sought in their leaders. Strength, courage, humility, wisdom, duty, honor. It’s pretty clear there are two questions we will never have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is this man?’ and ‘Can we trust this man with the Presidency?'”
Joe Lieberman closed the night as a registered Democrat and the former vice presidential candidate for the opposition eight years ago. He was well-received, and spoke of why he is supporting a Republican for president. Noting that while Obama was voting to cut off funds for troops in Iraq, McCain took the politically unpopular position to support a surge in troops. “Because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor.
“Tonight, I ask you, whether you are an independent, a Reagan Democrat or a Clinton Democrat, or just a Democrat: This year, when you vote for president, vote for the person you believe is best for the country, not for the party you happen to belong to,”