(By President Andrew Shepherd (casted by Michael Douglas) in his capacity as the President of the United States of America in the movie “The American President”)
For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was to a certain extent about character. And although I'm not willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation, being president of this country is entirely about character.
For the recond, yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is 'Why aren't you, Bob?' Now this is an organization who's sole purpose is to defend the bill of rights, so it naturally begs the question, why would a senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for president choose to reject upholding the constitution? Now if you can answer that question, folks, then you're smarter that I am, because I didn't understand it until a few hours ago.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man who's words make your blood boil, and who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of it's citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
I've known Bob Rumson for years. And I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it.
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only : Making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character and you wave an old photo of the president's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism. You tell them she's to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore.
Sydney Ellen Wade has done nothing to you, Bob. She has done nothing but put herself through school, represent the interest of public school teachers, and lobby for the safety of our natural resources. You want a character debate, Bob? You better stick with me, because Sydney Ellen Wade is way out of your league.
I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer. And I lost the other because I was so busy keeping my job, I forgot to do my job. Well that ends right now.
Tomorrow morning, the White House is sending a bill to Congress for it's consideration. It's White House Resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a twenty percent reduction of the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming. The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today, it no longer exists. I'm throwing it out. I'm throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention with out getting rid of assault weapons and hand guns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns.
We've got serious problems, and we need serious people. And if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American Values, fine. Tell me where and when, and I'll show up.
This a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up.
My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the president.
N.B. This is one of the most inspiring speeches I have heard crafted from a movie script.