This peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions, and make new beginnings. As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation. And I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with spirit, and ended with grace.
I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America's leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.
We have a place, all of us, in a long story; a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old. The story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom. The story of a power that went into world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer. It is the American story; a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.
The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise: that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born. Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.
Through much of the last century, America's faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations. Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity; an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.
While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the
promise -- even the justice -- of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools, and hidden prejudice, and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.
We do not accept this, and will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.
I know this is within our reach, because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves, Who creates us equal in His image.
And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
Today we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.
America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.
Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small. But the stakes, for America, are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.
We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.
America, at its best, is also courageous.
Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defeating common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing, by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.
Together we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives. We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent. We will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans. We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge. We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.
The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake. America remains engaged in the world, by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.
America, at its best, is compassionate.
In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise. And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love. And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls.
Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens; not problems, but priorities; and all of us are diminished when any are hopeless.
Government has great responsibilities, for public safety and public health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque, lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and laws.
Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty. But we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.
America, at its best, is a place where personal
responsibility is valued and expected.
Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life, not only in options, but in commitments. And we find that children and community are the
commitments that set us free.
Our public interest depends on private character; on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness; on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.
Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone.
I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility; to pursue the public interest with courage; to speak for greater justice and compassion; to call for reponsibility, and try to live it as well. In all these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.
What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort; to defend needed reforms against easy attacks; to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators. Citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.
Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.
After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: "We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?"
Much time has passed since Jefferson arrived for his inaugural. The years and changes accumulate. But the themes of this day he would know: our nation's grand story of courage, and its simple dream of dignity.
We are not this story's Author, Who fills time and eternity with His purpose. Yet His purpose is achieved in our duty; and duty is fulfilled in service to one another.
Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today: to make our country more just and generous; to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.
This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.
God bless you, and God bless our country.
What I Meant - President Dubya
Well, 'owdy do sinners. 'ow are ya's doing? It's me, Dubya. Verdict's in! Christ, I'm the new leader of this confounded, civilised western world I call Greater Texas! What a classic! I can't grasp how you mindless, indecisive ninnies were convinced to vote me in irrespective of everyfin' on me dad's scorecard when 'e was in power. What were the concerned crunchers 'n' proper scrutinizin' correctors doing? Our iconic forbearer's would cry! D'ya believe I'm gonna do somefin' different? Nup!
Laura and I are lookin' forward to bringin' our princesses up to DC to live in the Whitehouse. I'm gonna be a bit puzzled in a closed round room. I've been counseled not to try 'n' count corners. How many can there be - four, five? It's got to be near to the Pentagon doesn't it?
Laura said I couldn't have interns workin' under me but it's alright cause I like 'em on top! Ow, crap! Sorry Laura, that was just a bit of clean presidential fun.
Our princesses are gonna be ecstatic when they git to DC. They said they crave ecstasy anywhere they can get it. I'm cheerful for 'em. But I don't understand why the princesses couldn't find ecstasy in our fine state.
Anyhow, enough of our anti-dotal stories. Let's rave on 'bout how I can make our country even better.
First and foremost, as successor, I'm gonna reverse those stupid blunders that good for nuffin', intern rootin', hippy lovin' Clinton put in place. I mean, I don't need current oil prices at all time lows. Let's put prices up! Lemesee, 'ow am I gonna do that? I need a good plan...and to have a plan, I need someone with a brain - that colored Colin Powell. He's inventive for an Afro-American tosser. I believe he'll be able to sort somefin' there.
I discovered I can increase the drug tradin' with our forren neighbours. If I can git drugs into our country, our worse off Americans of nigger, I mean Afro American, 'n' Taco, oops, Latino decent, can afford to feed their children. Cheaper drugs equals more cash for food.
Let's see, what else can I do? I git carried away wit' destruction. I hate those criss-crossin', over-reproducin', sinnin' terrorist Mooslem piccaninnies from over the ocean. I hope that I get the chance to blow up some of their religious finginnybobs. Where do those deprived, murdering heretics live? Sowderabia? And who's that insecure, crazy rajah who proved me dad was stoopid? 'e comes from the near East. You know the corrupt camel straddler I'm spoutin' about. Sudan Who's Insane. Revenge is sweet! I've gotta git that corrupt ol' bastard. I'm gonna find me some of that oil eatin' wretch's petrol bowsers and persecute some silly fanatic Iraqi religious fundamentalist terrorists. This is gonna be terrific.
And what's that dry place where them girls gotta wear long dresses and can't sing good USA music? I don't trust 'em sinnin' forreners one sliver. They might as well come from California. Them and their wierdo religions. Ooh, Mohammed's coming to git me. Ooh, I'm so scared. Cringe 'n' surrender, ya scurryin' cowards. I'm gonna come and cripple ya with some merciless crewcut little 'American Life in the Summertime' officers.
Come on Moms 'n' Dads, len' me ya sons, len' me ya dawters. Some of 'em will return to ya. I can't ask me crap senators 'n' crawlin' congressmen to give their kiddies. They're all scared. But you stupid, I mean, brave mums 'n' dads'll give us ya chillen won't ya. I promise I won't start a real massive war. I just wanna go 'n' assassinate a few million forren collectives. Imagine 'ow good that'll make me, I mean, us appear to those red commies out there. Especially that short little fierce bastard in South, or is it, North Korea. Stuff it, it's in the Pacific Ocean. We'll just scare every one of 'em!
I'm so damned chuffed to be 'ere today that I'm gonna sing some national anthem hymn for y'all.
Oh, say can't ya see, by da da sunlight,
What so proudly we nailed at the dooby whatzit beamin'?
Whose broad stars 'n' bright stripes, through the pereluss fight,
Over the somefins we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
Now, I may have got some of the words wrong, but I won't get any more wrong cos this is the part I really like!!!
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
I say, does that star-dazzled banner yet wave
Over the land of the free and the home of the brave?
How cool is that? Our country's song yaps on about blowin' up stuff. There is nuffin' that I like doin' more than blowin up things. I asked Daddy, 'n' he said that now I'm the boss, I'm licensed to blow up everythin' I want to. I'll start with crucifyin' Taleebans and just keep criss-crossin' west. Surrender, Mister Sudan cos I'll get ya.
Anyway, enuff about blowin' up stuff. I'll return to that later. Y'all probably wanna know what I'm gonna do 'bout money 'n' stuff in our country. Well, first thing I'm gonna do is blow up stuff. Just foolin'! Finance is a very important thing to yap about. Ya see, if we don't have currency, we can't buy guns 'n' if we can't buy guns, we can't protect our country. So I'm gonna rediscover more taxes and retrench all of ya careers. I'm gonna cancel a heap of schools. This is a real clever idea cos it'll mean that I might stay smarter than at least some of you ruddy uneducated people out there. And we know that readin' and writin' isn't important. It didn't 'elp me get to where I am today. I can't write for crap! Ya surprised?
Besides that, I'm also gonna steal more cash out of medical fund reserves to make sure all geriatric fogies who can't afford private medical cover die. That way, I won't have to pay ya pensions. More finance for guns!!
I've also made a pact with some maniac Sowderabian radical called Bin Laden. He's gonna offer us more oil than the rest of those Iraqi bastards. I'm not gonna lower our price. This means you idiots will be sacrificing even more funds to git even more guns. Perfect! I get richer redirectin' all your dollars and you receive nuffin' in return. If there's one fing Dad tort me, it's that you can always fleece the American people cos they're all stoopid. But he did tell me not to tell so.....whoops.
Anyway, 'bout this snazzy Prince Bin Laden coconut - a real nice civilised puppet. He says that if I can secure access to some airspace, he can guarantee me that I won't have to worry about repairin' some of our buildings. I don't see any reason to suspect him. He's done nuffin' wrong in the past. And if he hates some of the other Sowdees then, how does that saying go? An enemy of my enemy is my enemy..wait a second...correction...a friend of my enemy is my friend...no...aw, who cares?
Cheers to you people down in Florida who voted in me brother too. You'll find Jeb is a real nice operator who will do good by y'all. He's promised to ensure that in future votes, ya won't have to panic about those difficult to read votin' cards. You just put your hole wherever you fink is a good place. Dad's proud of him too but not as proud as he is of me! You lose, Jeb.
I s'pose ya wanna know about me Vietnam days. Well, there weren't none!! See, even tho' I love guns, I is scared to crap of 'em. I don't wanna die and you just voted me in so you don't wanna see me die. I want other people to die. As long as more people are squished on the other side, I win. And cos there's more of us than them, I always win. We lost in Vietnam cos those confounded Viet Congo murderers were clever at hidin' (or so I've been told.)
Alright, what else can I yap 'bout? Dad told me not to chat 'bout the eccentric Donald Rumsfeld, so I won't say nuffin 'bout Don. I dunno why, 'e's the smartest man on the planet. 'e knows 'bout guns. 'im 'n' Charlie Heston are best of mates - always chattin' about rifles, guns, aircraft carriers 'n' sonic cruise missiles. I wish I knew as much as they knew about guns. Geez, Louise those guys are so S.M.R.T smart. But I won't mention Don cos Dad told me not to.
I don't think I should've mentioned Jeb either, come to think of it.
One princess I'm not sure of is Condescender Rice. I mean, that elegant bitch is brighter'n me and, I'm not sure if anyone else has realised this - she's discolored; dresses quite nice too. To stay on the safe side, I might send 'er overseas 'eaps of times. Then she might not get into trouble 'ere at 'ome. Rice can get an epicure and curry in places like Israel and Palestine. If I'm successful, she won't ever survive over there - you know, being a snivellin' Negress.
I also suspect if we increase the amount of carbonated fluids we put into the environment, our kids are gonna be friskier 'n' our work force will be better off. The pups'll be drinking Coca Cola rain and'll be hyperactive. This means they can work harder and faster.
In finishing up today, I'd like to thank divine God, resurrected Christ and particularly Dad for inspirin' me to rise to chief. Without 'em, I wouldn't 'ave 'ad a 'ope of gettin' elected. I'd also like to praise that infatuated, vacant Monica for leaving a stain on her blouse and also, conceited, undiscernin' Bill for not being able to stop thrustin'.
And here's to blowing up the Near East, Mid East and Far East.
Don't misunderestimate me.
Winners are grinners!
Long live Texas.
See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!
This anagram won an Anagrammy in July 2007 (Special Category).
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