July 06, 2008

The LA Times (with video) on BuZh's ridiculous 4th of July speech

Countdown to Crawford: Tracking the final days of the Bush administration
An emotional Bush at last Fourth of July as president

It was his last Fourth of July as president -- and his first visit to Monticello, the home of the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. It was not a long trip. It took the presidential party 40 minutes by helicopter from the White House -- plus a 10-minute motorcade -- to arrive at the home Jefferson built for himself and his family in Charlottesville, Va.

The president's stated purpose was to welcome and attend the swearing-in of 72 new citizens from 30 countries, including one from Burma. But his voice showed emotion when he talked about spreading freedom to other countries, one of his stated rationales for the war in Iraq. Quoting Jefferson as saying that the principles of the Declaration were universal, Bush said: "We honor Jefferson's legacy by aiding the rise of liberty in lands that do not know the blessings of freedom." Without mentioning Iraq, Afghanistan or the war on terrorism, he added, "And on this Fourth of July, we pay tribute to the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America." Watch the video here.

Bush was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, shouting "Defend the Constitution, Impeach Bush!" and "War Criminal!" Bush diverged from his prepared remarks to respond to the hecklers, explaining to
America's newest citizens, "We believe in free speech in the United States of America."

One of the protesters, David Swanson, has gone online to explain his behavior, saying

When Bush opened his mouth to speak I shouted "Defend the Constitution, Impeach Bush!" I repeated that several times, as people nearby knocked me over, cops handcuffed me, people gave me smiles and thumbs up signs. They threw me out and a couple of more defenders of our Constitution behind me, and then a few more, and then a few more. The handcuffed citizens who'd done their duty kept coming down the hill. They did not arrest us but did give us a ride down the mountain where we joined a crowd of protesters in the road who greeted Bush's limo coming and going.

Bush, who celebrates his 62nd birthday on Sunday, said he was delighted to spend part of the weekend at the home of the nation's third president, who died on July 4, 1826, the 50th birthday of the United States.

"This is a fitting place to celebrate our nation's independence," Bush said. "Thomas Jefferson once said he'd rather celebrate the Fourth of July than his own birthday. To me, it's pretty simple -- the Fourth of July weekend is my weekend birthday."

Praising Jefferson's achievements -- a well-read man whose book collection formed the basis of the Library of Congress -- Bush noted that although Jefferson was the nation's first secretary of State, second vice president and third president, he hated public speaking. Alluding to his own reputation for muffing a speech line from time to time, Bush said, "It seems Jefferson got away with only delivering two public speeches during his presidency." Pausing for the laugh, he added, "I'm sure a lot of Americans wish that were the case today."

Full video of the speech after the jump

-- Johanna Neuman

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