Daily Archives: March 10, 2006

President Bush's Remarks At National Newspaper Association Government Affairs Conference

Partial Transcript:

President: Whereabouts?

Questioner: Aurora, Colorado.

President: Oh good. Thanks.

Questioner: Recently in our town a teacher was suspended for remarks critical of your State of the Union message, made the talk shows, etc. Compared you to Hitler and, actually I’ve heard the tape, he did, he said Hitleresque… {President laughs} It’s not the…

President {laughing} He’s not the only one you know.

Questioner: And it is not the content of my question though. My question is about your sense of the free speech right in the classroom or in public to criticize you without being unpatriotic.

President: Yeah, I think people should be able to criticize me all they want. And they do.


President: Now what are you all laughing at over there? Don’t cheer ’em on. Look, I think the great thing about… Look… There are some certain basic freedoms that we’ve got to protect. The freedom of people to express themselves must be protected. The freedom of people to be able to worship freely, that freedom is valuable. I tell people all the time, “You are equally American if you are Christian, Jew, or Muslim. You are equally American if you believe in an Almighty or don’t believe in an Almighty.” That’s a sacred freedom. The right for people to express themselves in the public square is a freedom.

Obviously there’s [sic] limitations. If, for example, someone is inciting violence, or the destruction of property, or public, you know, causing somebody harm. But the idea of being able to express yourself is a sacred part of our society. And that’s just what distinguishes us from the Taliban. And that’s important for Americans to understand. We are in an ideological struggle. And one way for people to connect the ideological struggle with reality is to think about what life was like for people under the rule of the Taliban. If you didn’t agree with their view of religion, you were punished. If you tried to send your little girl to school, you were punished. These people have a backward view. I believe religion is peaceful. I believe that people that have religion in their heart are peaceful people. I believe these people have subverted a great religion to accomplish a political end.

So thank you for bringing that up. I appreciate it. People say to me, my buddies in Texas, “How do you handle all this stuff?” After a while you get used to it. {laughter} But you have to believe in what you’re doing, see? You have to believe in certain principles and beliefs and you can’t let the public opinion polls and focus groups cause you to abandon what you believe and become the reason for making decisions. My job is a job where I make a lot of decisions. And I decide big things and little things. And there’s [sic] certain principles to decision-making. You make decisions. You have to make a lot of decisions. And you don’t put your finger in the air to figure out how to make a decision. And neither should the President of the United States. You have to know what you believe. Certain good decision-making rests on certain basic principles. I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe democracies lead peace. I believe people ought to worship freely. I do believe there’s an Almighty God that has spread freedom, making freedom available for everybody. I believe in private enterprise, I believe in free enterprise. I believe in high standards in education. These are basic beliefs that I’m not going to change. I know some would like me to change. But you can’t be a good decision-maker if you’re trying to please people. You’ve got to stand on what you believe. That’s what you’ve got to do. If you’re going to make decisions that are solid and sound. And I understand some of the things I’ve done are unpopular. But that’s what comes with the territory.

[tags]media, news & politics, transcripts[/tags]