Tens of thousands of words have been written about George W. Bush's press conference Tuesday. We think it's time to let the man speak for himself. Without further ado, then, here are excerpts from the president's talk in Wheeling, W.Va., today:
"My purpose is to share with you what's on my mind and then I look forward to hearing what's on yours ... I'm the commander in chief. I'm also the educator in chief. And I have a duty to explain how and why I make decisions, and that's part of the reason I'm here."
"I knew that the farther we got away from Sept. 11, 2001, the more likely it would be that some would forget the lessons of that day. And that's OK. That's OK ... And it's fine that people forget the lessons, but one of my jobs is to constantly remind people of the lessons."
"When I was coming up in the '50s in Midland, Texas, you know, it seemed like we were pretty safe. In the '60s it seemed like we were safe. In other words, conflicts were happening overseas but we were in pretty good shape at home."
"The most important responsibility of the commander in chief ... is to defend the citizens of this country. That is our most vital and important responsibility. I have never forgotten that from September the 11th on."
"By the way, if the president says something, he better mean it, for the sake of peace. In other words, you want your president out there making sure that his words are credible."
"There's an interesting debate in the world, is whether or not freedom is universal, see, whether or not -- you know, there's old Bush imposing his values. See, I believe freedom is universal ... The way I put it was, there is an almighty God. One of the greatest gifts of that almighty God is the desire for people to be free, is freedom."
"I'm finding out what went wrong. In other words, one of the things you better make sure of when you're the president, you're getting good intelligence. "
"Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. In other words, it's a global war."
"And I can understand people saying, 'Man, it's all going to -- you know, it's not working out.'"
"Oops -- not through yet. A little early on the clap."
"Thank goodness Laura isn't here; she would be giving me the hook."
"De Tocqueville, who's a French guy, came in 1832 and recognized and wrote back -- wrote a treatise about what it means to go to a country where people have -- associate voluntarily to serve their communities."
"My buddies come from up from Texas ... And they come up from Texas and they're, kind of, looking at you, like, 'Man, are you OK?' Yes, you know. And I tell them, I say, you know, 'I can't tell you what an honor it is to do this job.' They often ask, 'What's the job description?' I say, 'Making decisions.' And I make a lot."
"Just got to keep talking. Word of mouth, there's blogs, there's Internet, there's all kinds of ways to communicate, which is literally changing the way people are getting their information."
"First, I hope that your generation will lead -- no doubt, your generation will lead. Generations, when called, somehow find the courage to lead. That's step one. Two, I think you'll be dealing in a world in which you will be confronted with making values choices; for example, family -- understanding that the family is an important aspect of society. Secondly, the choice of life. You know, for example, you'll be confronted with a very difficult debate between science, on the one hand, and the hopes of science, and life. That debate is just beginning. In other words, 'Do you destroy life to save life?' for example, is one of the very difficult debates that your generation will be confronted with ..."
"Anyway, you'll be confronted with some stuff. Hopefully, our job is to make sure you're confronted with less issues, like being hooked on oil. One of the issues that we're confronting with now that I hope you'll not have to confront with is jobs going elsewhere because we don't have the math and science skills and engineering skills and physics skills that are taught to our children here."
"I wish I could stay longer to answer your questions. I can't. I've got to go back to D.C. You know, I'm not necessarily saying I would rather be in D.C. than here. I'd rather be here than there, but nevertheless, that's what my life dictates. God bless you all."