Bush, Then and Now

So now that the election is over and our country is healed of its silly divisions, it’s interesting to compare Bush’s acceptance speech today with the one he gave after he finally got his way in 2000. Not that they’re identical, but there are a few familiar phrases. I’d say the 2000 speech had a couple moments of real grace — for instance, when mentioning Jefferson’s 1800 election. It’s odd to read his calls for courtesy and civility and bipartisanship now (especially when they were delivered from the Texas state house, the scene of his allies’ more recent attempt to cripple the Democrats by gerrymandering them to death). Today’s talk was brief and pragmatic, except for the sort of odd reference to Texas at the end. It’s a little early for him to be talking retirement.

In any case, if you’re looking for signs of reconciliation (yeah, he got a record number of votes, as Cheney said; he also had a record number vote against him) his words are less than convincing, ’cause we’ve heard this spiel before.

Today:

Earlier today, Senator Kerry called with his congratulations. We had a really good phone call. He was very gracious. Senator Kerry waged a spirited campaign, and he and his supporters can be proud of their efforts. Laura and I wish Senator Kerry and Teresa and their whole family all our best wishes.

2000:

This evening I received a gracious call from … Vice President [Gore]. We agreed to meet early next week in Washington and we agreed to do our best to heal our country after this hard-fought contest. Tonight I want to thank all the thousands of volunteers and campaign workers who worked so hard on my behalf. I also salute the vice president and his supports for waging a spirited campaign. And I thank him for a call that I know was difficult to make. Laura and I wish the vice president and Senator Lieberman and their families the very best. ”

***

Today:

Today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us.

2000:

I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect.

***

Today:

We will continue our economic progress. We’ll reform our outdated tax code. We’ll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We’ll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith.

2000:

Together, we will work to make all our public schools excellent, teaching every student of every background and every accent, so that no child is left behind. Together we will save Social Security and renew its promise of a secure retirement for generations to come. Together we will strengthen Medicare and offer prescription drug coverage to all of our seniors. Together we will give Americans the broad, fair and fiscally responsible tax relief they deserve. Together we’ll have a bipartisan foreign policy true to our values and true to our friends, and we will have a military equal to every challenge and superior to every adversary. Together we will address some of society’s deepest problems one person at a time, by encouraging and empowering the good hearts and good works of the American people.

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