Fellow Americans. I stand here before you tonight a humbled man. Today, early this morning, I sat in a small room off of the Oval Office alone, in meditation, and I did something I hadn’t done up until that moment. I reflected on my time as President, silently, in prayer, and I thought back on the decisions I’d made on many issues over the past four years. I asked God, and myself, “Have I done the right thing?” To my surprise, I was suddenly overcome by tears and I wept. I couldn’t stop myself from bawling like a baby. My mistakes, arrogant, prideful mistakes, filled me like some dark spirit filling an empty bottle. I was consumed with dread and fear. And it said to me, “Behold the truth or I will be your companion for eternity.”
I fell to my knees, not really knowing if I was dreaming or awake. The menace inside me said again, “Behold the truth.” I trembled, trying to understand what this meant. And then, as I spoke the word “truth” out loud, a light flickered and grew in my mind, and the truth began to make itself known in my thoughts. Let me tell you, it was terrifying and liberating at the same time. As I acknowledge each error that I had committed, as I apologized, the demon that possessed me weakened, until finally, it was gone completely.
Friends, I know that is a long introduction, but it was such a powerful moment in my life that I knew I must share it with you. So now, I am committed to something I should have been committed to all along. The truth. Tomorrow, on my orders, the Pentagon will begin drafting an exit strategy for our troops in Iraq. I cannot tolerate the loss of one more life in a cause that was wrong from the beginning. Our campaign against Iraq had very little to do with the war on terror. Many of you already know that. We needed a foothold in the Middle East. We needed more control over oil supplies. And I needed to settle a score with Saddam. We were quite aware these were not good enough reasons to go to war, so we worked day and night to come up with better ones. I’m not proud of it, but that is the truth. And to every family who has lost a loved one, every soldier injured, every man or woman separated from their families, and every Iraqi, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Unfortunately, I can’t turn back the hands of time, but I can change the future, and our troops will be home from Iraq by year’s end.
I am asking for the resignations of Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz. I hope to have letters on my desk by tomorrow. Vice President Cheney will assume a much lower profile in my administration over the next three years. I have been ill advised over the years. That now comes to an end.
I pledge to work with the United Nations and our allies around the globe in helping secure the peace in Iraq once our troops are gone. We will do everything in our power to restore the infrastructure in that country so that all Iraqis have the basics such as food, clean water, electricity and shelter.
My actions regarding Iraq have been inexcusable, and therefore, I do not offer any excuses. I only offer my deepest regrets and most profound apologies. If impeachment hearings are started, I will instruct Republicans in both houses not to resist. I place myself at the mercy of my fellow Americans. However, should you choose to follow me on a new, brighter course, we can turn the ship of state around toward the light of true democracy and away from the darkness of war and fear. Together, as a country once more united, we can spread democracy through example and good deeds, not the barrel of a gun. We must maintain a strong military, but not at the expense of the things that have made this country a beacon of democracy in the world. I leave you now to search your own hearts and look for the truth. It is in there, my friends. You just have to look. Good night.