Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Big Dog!

Meant to post this earlier...since the 90's, I've come to view President Clinton somewhat differently than I did while helping campaign for him in the early 90's. Some of that comes with age, some with experience.

While Michael Moore once characterized Clinton as "the best Republican president we ever had," and rightly so, it's impossible in the age of George Bush not to look back fondly upon an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful presence having once graced the White House. Despite issues on which I disagree with Clinton's policies.

Who wasn't happier in the 90's, better off financially, more given to hope than despair?

We had a surplus budget, social programs designed to help the average person more than the wealthiest and/or corporate entitities and the boon of computer technology reshaping the way we interacted. Hindsight often dons rose-colored glasses without thinking, but in this case, the glasses are deserved.

So, Happy Birthday Bill Clinton. Your 2004 Convention speech moved me to tears - smart, compassionate, insightful and full of common sense. I sometimes watch it again when desperately in need of a world that makes sense.



The Speech (truncated for length)
"My friends, we are constantly being told that America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom and faith and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean environment.

We all want our children to grow up in a secure America leading the world toward a peaceful and prosperous future.

Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring to the American people this year a positive campaign, arguing not who is a good or a bad person, but what is the best way to build a safe and prosperous world our children deserve.

The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges and serious problems, from AIDS to global warming to the continuing turmoil in the Middle East.

But it is also full of amazing opportunities to create millions of new jobs and clean energy and biotechnology, to restore our manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy, through our diversity and our commitment to decent labor and environmental standards for people all across the world...

... and to create a world where we can celebrate our religious, our racial, our ethnic, our tribal differences because our common humanity matters most of all.

To build that kind of world, we must make the right choices. And we must have a president who will lead the way. Democrats and Republicans have very different and deeply felt ideas about what choices we should make. They're rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home, and how we should play our role in the world.

We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to.

We think the role of government...

... should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance.

On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that American should be run by the right people -- their people -- in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to.

They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security.

Now, since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

But we don't.

Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all just wanted to be one nation. Not a single American on September the 12th, 2001, cared who won the next presidential election.

All we wanted to do was to be one country, strong in the fight against terror, helping to heal those who were wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones, reaching out to the rest of the world so we could meet these new challenges and go on with our democratic way of life.

The president had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror.

Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice. They chose to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty and for the international court on war criminals and for the anti-ballistic missile treaty and from the nuclear test ban treaty.

Now, now at a time when we're trying to get other people to give up nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, they are trying to develop two new nuclear weapons which they say we might use first.

At home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in.

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress.

I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

Now look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs while withholding promised funding to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.

They chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school, learning, going to college and having a good life.

They chose -- they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans.

And most of us, almost all of us, from Republicans to independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part, too. But all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts.

Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats. We've got a different economic policy.

In this year's budget...

In this year's budget, the White House this year wants to cut off all the federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police officers under the COPS program we've had for 10 years. Among those 88,000 police are more than 700 members of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line on 9/11.

With gang violence rising, and with all of us looking for terrorists in our midst and hoping they're not too well armed or too dangerous, the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10- year-old ban on deadly assault weapons to lapse.

Now, they believe it's the right thing to do. But our policy was to put more police on the street and to take assault weapons off the street. And it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of declining violence.

Their policy is the reverse. They're taking police off the streets while they put assault weapons back on the street.

Now, if you agree with that choice, by all means, vote to keep them in office. But if you don't, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter and stronger again.

On homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost $1 billion. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that,
to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans safer.

The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

If you agree with that, by all means, re-elect them. If not, John Kerry and John Edwards are your team for the future.

These policies have turned a projected $5.8 trillion surplus that we left, enough to pay for the baby boomer retirement, into a projected debt of almost $5 trillion, with over $400 billion in deficit this year and for years to come.

Now, how do they pay for that deficit? First, by taking the Social Security surplus that comes in every month and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to pay for the tax cuts. But it's not enough.

So then they have to go borrow money. Most of it they borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese government.

Sure, these countries are competing with us for good jobs, but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? I mean, come on.

So if you think -- if you believe it is good policy -- if you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security checks of working men and women and borrowed money from China and Japan, you should vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man.

We Americans must choose for president...

... we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love their countries, but who have very different world views: our nominee, John Kerry, who favors shared responsibility, shared opportunity and more global cooperation; and
their president and their party in Congress who favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action.

I think we're right for two reasons.

First of all, America just works better when more people have a chance to live their dreams.

And, secondly, we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot possibly kill, jail or occupy all of our potential adversaries. So we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.

Now, we tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it our way for eight years. Then we tried it their way for four more. But the only test that matters is whether people were better off when we finished than when we started. Our way works better.

It produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle class, over 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class, more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror and a respected America in the world."


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