Just hours after learning about an outrageous speech delivered by Karl Rove, President Bush's most senior advisor, I went to the Senate floor -- and I spoke from my heart. I want to share those words with you -- not as a Democrat or Republican, not as a liberal or conservative -- but as an American.
I've attached part of my speech to the end of this email. But, before you read what I said, look again at what Karl Rove said:
(P)erhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
I hope you will join me right now in signing an open letter to the President urging him to thoroughly reject Karl Rove's purposeful attack on the patriotism of those who dare ask the tough questions that best protect American troops. Sign our open letter to President Bush now:
This isn't the first time that Karl Rove and other White House officials have sought to divide America in ways that make it harder to keep our country safe and our democracy strong. But, it should be the last. That's why I ended my speech with a call on President Bush to fire Karl Rove. It is the only way the President can make it clear that he rejects Rove's effort to distort one of the most unified and patriotic moments in American history into a cheap, divisive, political applause line.
That, of course, is what is most outrageous about Karl Rove's claim that President Bush's political opponents offered "therapy and understanding for our attackers." It isn't true. In the days after 9/11, there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all Americans, standing together. President Bush acknowledged that unity in a clear and compelling way at the time.
Now, Karl Rove is purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain. I hope you will act right now to join a growing chorus of Americans calling on the President to fire Karl Rove.
Please act right now. Sign our open letter to the President and pass it on to others. All Americans have to speak with one powerful voice in response to this outrage. I will continue speaking out and I know I can count on you to stand with me.
Make America Safe, Not DividedExcerpts of remarks by Senator John Kerry on the Senate floor on Thursday, June 23.
"None of us here will ever forget the hours after September 11... and the remarkable response of the American people as we came together as one to answer the attack on our homeland.... [I]t brought out the best of all of us in America.
That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap, divisive political applause line from anyone who speaks for the President of the United States.
I am proud, as my colleagues on this side are, that after September 11, all of the people of this country rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans, there were only Americans. That is why it is really hard to believe that last night in New York... the most senior adviser to the President of the United States [was] purposely twisting those days of unity in order to divide us for political gain.
Rather than focusing attention on Osama bin Laden and finding him or rather than focusing attention on just smashing al-Qaida and uniting our effort, as we have been, he is, instead, challenging the patriotism of every American who is every bit as committed to fighting terror as is he.
Just days after 9/11, the Senate voted 98 to nothing, and the House voted 420 to 1, to authorize President Bush to use all necessary and appropriate force against terror. And after the bipartisan vote, President Bush said: "I'm gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message. Our people are together and we will prevail."
That is not the message that was sent by Karl Rove in New York City last night. Last night, he said: "No more needs to be said about" their "motives."
I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives because they are not the people's motives... They are not the motives of a nation that found unity in that critical moment--Democrat and Republican alike, all of us as Americans.
If the President really believes his own words, if those words have meaning, he should at the very least expect a public apology from Karl Rove. And frankly, he ought to fire him. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of those words, then he ought to listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down. She said: "If you are going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11."
Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology and he doesn't owe Democrats an apology. He owes the country an apology. He owes Kristen Breitweiser and a lot of people like her, those families, an apology. He owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on 9/11 and expect their government to be doing all possible to keep the unity of their country and to fight an effective war on terror.
The fact is, millions of Americans...are asking Washington for honesty, for results, and for leadership--not for political division. Before Karl Rove delivers another political assault, he ought to stop and think about those families and the unity of 9/11.