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"A Second Chance"
An Essay by President George W. Bush

Over the course of my life, I have often benefitted from the friendship of others (see "On Friendship"). It is through my friends and the friends of my father that I came to acquire the Texas Rangers, it is through my friends and the friends of my father that I was able to acquire my first oil company, it is through my friends and the friends of my father that I was able to run for Congress, and it is through my friends and the friends of my father that I became Governor of Texas.

Finally, it is through my brother, my friends and the friends of my father that I became President of the United States.

But besides high-profile friendship, my career has been marked by another, less cheerful pattern: a lack of second chances.

When my oil company couldn't find any oil in Texas, through no fault of my own, it went bankrupt just after I sold all my stock. I was never given another chance to own an oil company.

When I lost my race for Congress, I was never offered another chance to run such a race--even though I had lost through no fault of my own, elections being so often the "wild cards" of our politics.

When I went AWOL from the Texas National Guard, no one ever offered me another chance to earn an honorable discharge.

When, as Governor of Texas, I was asked to change pollution laws for power and oil companies and did just that, I accidentally made Texas the most polluted state in the Union, and Houston the most polluted city in America. Yet no one ever offered me a second chance to achieve an honorable record in Texas.

When, as Governor of Texas, I was asked to cut taxes too much and did so, I accidentally bankrupted the Texas government. Yet no one ever offered me a second chance to achieve an honorable record in Texas.

Today, as President of the United States, I of course have done some marvelous things. I have already set the all-time record for most campaign fund-raising trips of any President in US history. I kept the US out of the international spotlight by withdrawing from the World Court. I avoided media insanity quite well, with fewer televised press conferences than any other President since the advent of television.

But I know, too, that my record hasn't been perfect. Leaving aside my accomplishments for the moment, I'd like to eat some humble pie:

  • Three million of you have lost your jobs over the past three years. That is bad – worse than at any other time since the Great Depression, when Herbert Hoover was President. I know this.
  • 1.7 million of you dropped below the poverty line this past year. That is bad, because 1.7 million is the population of Philadelphia, the "city of brotherly love." Imagine all of Philadelphia falling off the shelf of prosperity, all at once. Believe me, I know.
  • For those of you in the middle classes, incomes have gone down, after rising throughout the 1990s. I know.
  • My tax cuts have turned your budget surplus into a $480 billion deficit. I know there are many things you could have used the surplus for, and I know it will cause your children some stress later on. I know this.
  • It was during my tenure that more private bankruptcies were filed in twelve months than ever before. I know.
  • It was during my tenure that the stock market dropped more than ever before in history. I know.
  • I accidentally appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any other President in US history. I'm living with that legacy, like all of us are.
  • I also accidentally appointed more multi-millionaires to my cabinet than any other President in US history. My cabinet is by far the richest of any in US history. This was a tactless move, I know – I know.
  • Your country's security is a mess. Even my generals in the field, even my Homeland Security apparatus, even Rumsfeld is telling me that now, the American people face a great deal more of a threat than before my War on Terror began. I know that too.
  • After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, I presided over the worst security failure in US history. I remember that well, even today.
  • Your country's diplomacy is in tatters. After September 11, we received an outpouring of heartfelt sympathy from our allies and enemies alike. We had an opportunity to build on that sympathy. Today, none of our allies trusts us one bit, and not only because we found no weapons of mass destruction. I know how this hurts some of you. Believe me, I know.
  • I dissolved more international treaties than any other President in US history. I know that this hasn't helped our diplomacy either.
  • More people have taken to the streets to protest me and my actions (around 15 million worldwide on February 15 alone) than ever before in the history of humanity. I know these figures quite well.
  • Because of my actions, the United Nations removed the US from its human rights commission and its elections monitoring board. I know that!
Now all this is not good, I know. But I'm asking you for a second chance. If you grant it to me, it will be a first for my lifetime, and I will forever be grateful.

As an American, I think you can understand the importance of second chances. If you've lost your job during my tenure, surely you'll want some corporation, somewhere on earth, to give you another job someday, and not say "Oh, no, you messed up for good. You can't ever work again."

Since there's a good chance you can relate to this scenario, I feel I can ask you, as a friend: please, give me a second four-year term. Give me that second chance--for once in my life.

Thank you.

- George W. Bush

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