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Weekly remarks: Obama salutes the troops, Haley Barbour sees elections as 'wake-up call'

November 7, 2009 |  3:00 am

Democrat Barack Obama's White House at Dawn

Weekly Remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes today about the tragedy that took place at Fort Hood. This past Thursday, on a clear Texas afternoon, an Army psychiatrist walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center and began shooting his fellow soldiers.

It is an act of violence that would have been heartbreaking had it occurred anyplace in America. It is a crime that would have horrified us had its victims been Americans of any background. But it’s all the more heartbreaking and all the more despicable because of the place where it occurred and the patriots who were its victims.

The SRP is where our men and women in uniform go before getting deployed. It’s where they get their teeth checked and their medical records updated and make sure everything is in order before getting shipped out. It was in this place, on a base where our soldiers ought to feel most safe, where those brave Americans who are preparing to risk their lives in defense of our nation, lost their lives in a crime against our nation.

Soldiers stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world called and e-mailed loved ones at Fort Hood, all expressing the same stunned reaction: I’m supposed to be the one in harm’s way, not you.

Thursday’s shooting was one of the most devastating ever committed on an American military base. And yet, even as we saw the worst of human nature on full display, we also saw the.... of America. We saw soldiers and civilians alike rushing to aid fallen comrades; tearing off bullet-riddled clothes to treat the injured; using blouses as tourniquets; taking down the shooter even as they bore wounds themselves.

We saw soldiers bringing to bear on our own soil the skills they had been trained to use abroad; skills that been honed through years of determined effort for one purpose and one purpose only: to protect and defend the United States of America.

We saw the valor, selflessness, and unity of purpose that make our servicemen and women the finest fighting force on Earth; that make the United States military the best the world has ever known; and that make all of us proud to be Americans.

On Friday, I met with FBI Director Mueller, Defense Secretary Gates, and representatives of the relevant agencies to discuss their ongoing investigation into what led to this terrible crime. And I’ll continue to be in close contact with them as new information comes in.

We cannot fully know what leads a man to do such a thing. But what we do know is that our thoughts are with every single one of the men and women who were injured at Fort Hood. Our thoughts are with all the families who’ve lost a loved one in this national tragedy.

And our thoughts are with all the Americans who wear – or who’ve worn – the proud uniform of the United States of America; our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen, and the military families who love and support them.

In tribute to those who fell at Fort Hood, I’ve ordered flags flying over the White House, and other federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff from now until Veterans Day next Wednesday. Veterans Day is our chance to honor those Americans who’ve served on battlefields from Lexington to Antietam, Normandy to Manila, Inchon to Khe Sanh, Ramadi to Kandahar.

They are Americans of every race, faith, and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. They are descendents of immigrants and immigrants themselves. They reflect the diversity that makes this America. But what they share is a patriotism like no other.

What they share is a commitment to country that has been tested and proved worthy. What they share is the same unflinching courage, unblinking compassion, and uncommon camaraderie that the soldiers and civilians of Ft. Hood showed America and showed the world.

These are the men and women we honor today. These are the men and women we’ll honor on Veterans Day. And these are the men and women we shall honor every day, in times of war and times of peace, so long as our nation endures.   ###

Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour

Weekly Remarks by Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, as provided by the Republican National Committee

Hi, I’m Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, and I’m pleased to give the weekly Republican address.
This past week’s been a momentous one in American politics. It marked the first anniversary of President Obama’s election.
This week also saw the first big elections since this administration and its Democrat majority in Congress took control of our federal government. The results made clear the American people don’t like where the Democrats are trying to take our country.
Virginia and New Jersey elected new governors Tuesday, and in both cases, voters chose Republican governors to succeed the Democrats elected four years ago. Both are states that President Obama carried by large margins last year.
Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, a conservative who focused his campaign on jobs and economic growth – the issues that concern most Virginia voters – won by nearly 20 points, as Republicans swept all statewide offices.
In New Jersey, moderate Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine, despite several campaign visits by the president. Independents voted overwhelmingly for the Republican in both states.

 Independents, most of whom voted for President Obama only a year ago, are concerned where his policies are taking our country. Don’t take my word for it.   

Rep. Jim Cooper, senior Democrat in Tennessee’s congressional delegation, called the election result "a wake-up call for Congress." "A tidal wave could be coming," he said.

Democratic Congressman Dan Boren of Oklahoma made his views plain when he told the Wall Street Journal: "Voters sent a clear message that the administration and the Congress need to focus on the economy.  We need to focus on creating jobs right now, and you don’t do that by raising taxes on small businesses."
The Washington Post’s David Broder, dean of American political writers, identified a crucial factor in Tuesday’s voting. Broder wrote, "The more worried voters were about keeping or finding a job, the more likely they were to vote Republican."
Americans think economic growth and job creation are priorities 1, 2, 3 and 4. Despite all the trillions of dollars in spending by this administration and Congress, voters see little progress on jobs.  
And, these elections came before it was announced that the unemployment rate had risen to 10.2%, the highest in 26 years.
Americans’ concerns are greatly increased because Washington hasn’t been focused on economic growth and creating jobs. Instead, all the talk and attention has been on healthcare reform.
And now that the Democrat leadership has settled on a healthcare bill, what have Americans learned?  
This healthcare bill will cost another trillion-plus dollars. The bill will increase your health insurance premiums. It will cut Medicare spending for seniors by $500 billion, and it will clobber small businesses, which create most new jobs.  
Indeed, the National Federation of Independent Business, the organization of small businesses, projects the healthcare reform proposal pending in the House will mean 1.6 million fewer jobs – that’s right, it would cost 1.6 million people their jobs.
Isn’t it easy to see why Americans sent that wake-up call on Tuesday?
Now, the question is, did Democrats in Washington hear it?
Will they listen to folks like Democratic Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine, who said after the elections, "People want jobs. We have to start focusing on jobs and the economy"?
The best time to start’s now. The House Democrats’ healthcare bill should be withdrawn and reworked.  There are many reforms that enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.  
Great improvements can be made without a government-run healthcare system; without gigantic tax increases that fall primarily on small businesses; without a $500-billion cut in Medicare spending; without higher insurance premiums; and without costing 1.6 million people their jobs.
Governors, including many Democrats, also realize this Democrat plan will result in tens of billions of dollars of state tax increases because it would greatly expand Medicaid and make state governments pay more than $30 billion that our states don’t have.
Americans are a whole lot smarter than politicians give them credit for. Americans want and need jobs.  Congress has been focused on health and energy legislation that will cost millions of jobs.

Hopefully, Tuesday’s fire alarm will get Washington’s eye back on the ball: back on job creation and economic growth. I’m Governor Haley Barbour. Thanks for listening.   ###

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Photo: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press; Associated Press (Barbour).