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O n the day after the election, I was back at the White House for a celebration on the South Lawn with my staff, cabinet, other appointees, campaign workers, and Democratic Party officials. In my remarks, I mentioned that the night before, as I waited for the election results, I had held a reunion with people who had worked for me in Arkansas when I was attorney general and governor, and that I told them something I want to tell youthat is, I have always been a very hardworking, kind of hard-driving person. Im always focused on the matter before me. Sometimes I dont say Thank you enough. And Ive always been kind of hard on myself, and sometimes I think, just by omission, Im too hard on the people who work here..bvlgari rings replica.
Our team had accomplished a lot in the last four years under extreme duress. This was the result of my own early mistakes, the first two years of intensely negative press coverage, the loss of Congress in 94, the financial and emotional toll of Whitewater, too much personal tragedy, and the constant demands inherent in trying to turn the country around. I had done my best to keep my own and everybody elses spirits up, and to keep us all from being too distracted by the tragedies, the trash, and the mishaps. Now that the American people had given us another term, I was hoping that in the next four years we would be freer to do the publics business without the turmoil and strife of the first term..bvlgari bracelet replica.
I had been inspired by a statement made in late October by the archbishop of Chicago, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, a tireless advocate for social justice whom Hillary and I knew and admired very much. Bernardin was desperately ill and didnt have long to live when he said, A dying person does not have time for the peripheral or the accidental . . . it is wrong to waste the precious gift of time given to us on acrimony and division..hermes bracelet replica.
In the week after the election, several people central to the administration announced their intention to leave by the end of the year, including Leon Panetta and Warren Christopher. Chris had lived on an airplane for four years, and Leon had seen us through the budget battles, not to mention staying up on election night playing hearts with me. Both of them wanted to go home to California and to a more normal life. They had served me and the nation well, and I would miss them. On Novem-ber 8, I announced that Erskine Bowles would become the new chief of staff. His youngest child was off to college now, and Erskine was free to serve again, though it would cost him an arm and a leg to do so, as he once again gave up his lucrative business ventures..hermes bracelet replica.
Thank goodness, Nancy Hernreich and Betty Currie were staying. By this time, Betty knew most of my friends around the country, could handle a lot of the phone traffic, and was a wonderful help to me in the office. Nancy understood the dynamics of our office and my need for both involvement in and distance from the details of the day-to-day work. She did everything she could to make it easier for me to do my job, and kept the Oval Office operations in great shape. My then presidential aide, Stephen Goodin, was leaving, but we had lined up a good replacement: Kris Engskov, who had been at the White House from the start and whom I first met in north Arkansas way back in 1974 during my first campaign. Since the Presidents aide sat just outside the Oval Office door, was with me all of the time, and was always by my side, it was good to have someone Id known so long and who liked so much doing the job. I was also glad to have Janis Kearny, the White House diarist. Janis had been the editor of the Arkansas State Press, Little Rocks black newspaper, and she was keeping meticulous records of all our meetings. I dont know what I would have done without my Oval Office team..cartier love bracelet replica.
A week later, after I announced an eighteen-month extension of our mission in Bosnia, Hillary and I were on our way to Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand for a combination of work and a vacation that we needed. We began with three days of pure fun in Hawaii, then flew on to Sydney, Australia. After a meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, a speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra, and a day in Sydney, including an unforgettable game with one of the greatest golfers of our time, Greg Norman, we flew north to Port Douglas, a coastal resort on the Coral Sea near the Great Barrier Reef. While there, we walked through the Daintree Rainforest with an aboriginal guide, toured a wildlife preserve where I cuddled a koala named Chelsea, and snorkeled around the magnificent reef. Like coral reefs the world over, it was threatened by ocean pollution, global warming, and physical abuse. Just before we went out to see it, I announced Americas support for the International Coral Reef Initiative, which was designed to prevent further destruction of reefs everywhere..Christian Louboutin Replica.
We flew from Australia to the Philippines for the fourth Asian Pacific leaders meeting, hosted by President Fidel Ramos. The principal result of the conference was an agreement I had worked for that eliminated all tariffs on an array of computers, semiconductors, and telecommunications technology by 2000, a move that would result in more exports and more high-wage jobs for America..Christian Louboutin Replica.
We visited Thailand to honor the kings fiftieth year on the throne of one of Americas oldest allies in Southeast Asia: the United States had signed a treaty of amity and commerce with the king of Siam in 1833. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was an accomplished pianist and a big jazz fan. I presented him with a golden anniversary gift any jazz aficionado would appreciate, a large portfolio of photographs of jazz musicians, autographed by the superb jazz photographer Herman Leonard..Giuseppe Zanotti outlet.
We got home in time for our traditional Thanksgiving at Camp David. This year our group included our two delightful young nephews, Rogers son, Tyler, and Tonys son, Zach. Watching them play together made the spirit of the season come alive..Giuseppe Zanotti Replica.
In December, I had to reconstitute a large part of my administration. Bill Perry, John Deutch, Mickey Kantor, Bob Reich, Hazel OLeary, Laura Tyson, and Henry Cisneros were all leaving. We were losing valuable people in the White House, too. Harold Ickes was returning to his law practice and consulting business, and Deputy Chief of Staff Evelyn Lieberman was going to the State Department to head the Voice of America..Giuseppe Zanotti Replica.
Early in the month I announced my new national security team: Madeleine Albright as secretary of state; Bill Cohen, former Republican senator from Maine, as secretary of defense; Tony Lake as CIA director; Bill Richardson as UN ambassador; and Sandy Berger as national security advisor. Albright had done an outstanding job at the United Nations and understood the challenges we faced, especially in the Balkans and the Middle East. I thought she had earned the chance to be the first female secretary of state. Bill Richardson had proved himself to be a skilled diplomat by his efforts in North Korea and Iraq, and I was pleased when he agreed to become Americas first Hispanic ambassador to the United Nations..Giuseppe Zanotti Replica.
Bill Cohen was an articulate, youthful-looking politician who had been an innovative thinker on defense issues for years. He had helped to craft the START I treaty and had played a key role in the legislation that reorganized and strengthened the military command structure in the 1980s. I wanted a Republican in the cabinet, liked and respected Cohen, and thought he could fill Bill Perrys very big shoes. When I pledged to him that I would never politicize defense decisions, he accepted the job. I hated to lose John Deutch at the CIA. He had done a fine job as deputy secretary of defense, then had stepped into the tough CIA job after Jim Woolseys brief tenure. Tony Lakes work at the National Security Council had given him a unique understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our intelligence operations, which were especially critical now with the threat of terrorism on the rise..cartier love bracelet replica.
I didnt consider anyone other than Sandy Berger for the job of national security advisor. We had been friends for more than twenty years. He felt comfortable bringing me bad news and disagreeing with me at meetings, and he had done a superb job on a whole range of issues in the first term. Sandys analytical powers were considerable. He thought through problems to the end, seeing potential pitfalls that others missed, without being paralyzed by them. He understood my strengths and weaknesses and how to make the most of the former and minimize the latter. He also never allowed his ego to get in the way of good decision making..hermes bracelet replica.
George Stephanopoulos was leaving, too. He had told me not long before the election that he was burned out and had to go. Until I read his memoir, I had no idea how difficult the pressure-packed years had been for him, or how hard he had been on himself, and me. George was going on to a career in teaching and television, where I hoped he would be happier..moncler outlet.
Within two weeks I had filled the remaining vacancies in the cabinet. I named Bill Daley of Chicago to be secretary of commerce after Mickey Kantor, to my regret, told me he wanted to return to private life. Daley was a talented man who had led our campaign for NAFTA. Charlene Barshefsky had been acting trade representative in the eight months since Mickey Kantor had gone to Commerce. She was doing a terrific job, and it was time to take the word acting out of her title.
I also appointed Alexis Herman to succeed Bob Reich at the Labor Department; Assistant HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo to follow Henry Cisneros at HUD; Federico Pea to replace Hazel OLeary at Energy; Rodney Slater, the federal highway administrator, to succeed Pea as secretary of transportation; Aida Alvarez to become head of the Small Business Administration; Gene Sperling to head the National Economic Council on the departure of Laura Tyson; Dr. Janet Yellen, who had taught Larry Summers at Harvard, to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; Bruce Reed to be my domestic policy advisor, replacing Carol Rasco, who was going to the Department of Education to run our America Reads program; and Sylvia Matthews, a brilliant young woman who worked for Bob Rubin, to replace Harold Ickes as deputy chief of staff.
Bob Reich had done a good job at the Department of Labor and as a member of the economic team, but it was becoming difficult for him; he disagreed with my economic and budget policies, believing I had put too much emphasis on deficit reduction and invested too little in education, training, and new technologies. Bob also wanted to go home to Massachusetts to his wife, Clare, and their sons.
I was heartsick about losing Henry Cisneros. We had been friends since before I ran for President, and he had done a brilliant job at HUD. For more than a year, Henry had been subject to an investigation by an independent counsel for making incorrect statements about his personal expenses in his FBI vetting interview for the HUD job. The law made it a crime for a nominee to make a material misstatement, one that would affect the confirmation process. Senator Al DAmato, whose committee had recommended Cisneross confirmation, wrote a letter saying that Henrys misstatement of the details of his expenses would not have affected his vote or that of any other senator on the committee. Prosecutors from the Justice Departments public integrity office argued against a special prosecutor.
Unfortunately, Janet Reno referred the Cisneros case to Judge Sentelles panel anyway. True to form, they saddled him with a Republi-can special prosecutor: David Barrett, an active partisan who, though accused of no wrongdoing, reportedly had close ties with officials who were convicted in the HUD scandals of the Reagan administration. No one had accused Henry of any impropriety in his job, but he had been plunged into Whitewater World anyway. Henrys legal bills had left him deeply in debt and he had two kids in college. He had to earn more money to support his family and pay his lawyers. I was just thankful he had stayed for the full four years.
Though I had made a lot of changes, I thought we could maintain the spirit of camaraderie and teamwork that had marked the first term. Most of the new appointees were transferring from other positions in the administration, and many of my cabinet members were staying put.
There were several interesting developments in foreign policy in December. On the thirteenth, the UN Security Council, with the strong support of the United States, selected a new secretary-general, Kofi Annan of Ghana. Annan was the first person from sub-Saharan Africa to hold the post. As the UN undersecretary for peacekeeping during the previous four years, he had supported our efforts in Bosnia and Haiti. Madeleine Albright thought he was an exceptional leader and had urged me to support him, as had Warren Christopher, Tony Lake, and Dick Holbrooke. Kofi was an intelligent, impressive man with a quiet but commanding presence. He had given most of his professional life in service to the United Nations, but he was not blind to its shortcomings, nor wedded to its bad habits. Instead, he was committed to making the UNs operations more efficient and more accountable. That was important on the merits and vital to my ability to persuade the congressional Republicans to pay our UN dues. We were $1.5 billion in arrears, and since 1995, when the Republicans took over, the Congress had refused to pay until the UN reformed itself. I thought the refusal to pay our back dues was irresponsible and damaging to both the UN and the United States, but I agreed that reform was imperative.
In the Middle East, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat were trying to resolve their differences, with Netanyahu going to Gaza for three hours of talks on Christmas Eve day. As the year ended, my envoy, Dennis Ross, was shuttling back and forth between them, trying to close a deal on the turnover of Hebron to the Palestinians. It wasnt done yet, but I began 1997 with more hope for the peace process than Id had in months.
After spending the first days of the New Year on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a part of our nation Presidents rarely visit, my family went home to get ready for the inauguration and my fifth year as President. In many ways, it would be the most normal year of my presidency so far. For most of the year, Whitewater World was just a low-grade fever that spiked up from time to time with the campaign finance investigations, and I was free to do my job.
In the run-up to the inauguration, we held a series of events to emphasize that things were going in the right direction, highlighting 11.2 million new jobs in the previous four years, the largest decline in the crime rate in twenty-five years, and a 40 percent drop in the student-loan default rate.
I corrected an old injustice by giving the Congressional Medal of Honor to seven African-American veterans of World War II. Amazingly, no Medals of Honor had ever been awarded to blacks who served in that war. The selections were made after an exhaustive study of battle records. Six of the medals were awarded posthumously, but one of the recipients, seventy-seven-year-old Vernon Baker, was at the White House for the ceremony. He was an impressive man of quiet dignity and clear intelligence: as a young lieutenant in Italy more than fifty years earlier, he had single-handedly wiped out three enemy machine-gun units, an observer post, and a dugout. When asked how he had dealt with discrimination and prejudice after having given so much to his country, Baker said he had lived his life by a simple creed: Give respect before you expect it, treat people the way you want to be treated, remember the mission, set the example, keep going. It sounded good to me.
A day after the Medal of Honor ceremony, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat called me to say they had finally reached an agreement on the Israeli deployment in Hebron, bringing to a successful conclusion the talks we had launched in September. The Hebron deal was a relatively small part of the peace process, but it was the first time Netanyahu and Arafat had accomplished something together. If it had not been achieved, the entire peace process would have been in grave peril. Dennis Ross had been working with them virtually around the clock for a couple of weeks, and both King Hussein and Warren Christopher had pressed the parties to agree in the closing days of the negotiations. President Mubarak weighed in, too, when I called him for help at one oclock in the morning in Cairo at the end of Ramadan. The Middle East was like that; it often took all hands on board to get things done.
Three days before the inauguration I awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bob Dole, noting that from his service in World War II, in which he was badly wounded coming to the aid of a fallen comrade, through all the ups and downs of his political career, Dole had turned adversity to advantage and pain to public service, embodying the motto of the state he loved and went on to serve so well: Ad astra per aspera, to the stars through difficulties. Though we had been opponents and disagreed on many issues, I liked Dole. He could be mean and tough in a fight, but he lacked the fanaticism and hunger for personal destruction that characterized so many of the hard-right Republicans who now dominated his party in Washington.
I had had a fascinating visit with Dole a month earlier. He came to see me with a little toy for our cat, Socks, which he said was from his dog. We discussed the election, foreign policy, and the budget negotiations. The press was still buzzing about campaign finance abuses. Besides the DNC, the Republican National Committee and the Dole campaign had committed some violations. I had been criticized for inviting supporters to spend the night at the White House and for hosting morning coffees with administration members, supporters, contributors, and others who had no political ties to us.
I asked Dole, based on his years of experience, whether politics and politicians in Washington were more or less honest than they had been thirty years earlier. Oh, its not close, he said. Much more honest today. Then I asked, Would you agree that people think things are less honest? Sure, he said, but theyre wrong about it.
I was strongly supporting the new campaign finance reform bill sponsored by Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold, but I doubted that its passage would increase public confidence in the integrity of politicians. Fundamentally, the press objected to the influence of money on campaigns, though most of the money was spent on media advertising. Unless we were to legislate free or reduced-cost airtime, which the media generally opposed, or to adopt public financing of campaigns, an option with little public or congressional support, the media would continue to be the largest consumer of campaign dollars, even as they pilloried politicians for raising the funds to pay them.
In my inaugural address, I painted the most vivid picture I could of what America might be in the twenty-first century, and said that the American people had not returned to office a President of one party and a Congress of another . . . to advance the politics of petty bickering and extreme partisanship they plainly deplored, but to work together on Americas mission.
The inaugural ceremonies, like our November victory celebration, were more serene, even relaxed, this time around, though the morning church service was enlivened by the fiery sermons of the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Tony Campolo, an Italian evangelical from Philadelphia who was perhaps the only white preacher in America who could keep up with Jesse. The atmosphere at the congressional luncheon was friendly, as I noted that the new Senate majority leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, and I shared a profound debt to Thomas Jefferson: if he hadnt decided to buy the vast Louisiana Territory from France, neither of us would have been there. Ninety-four-year-old Senator Strom Thurmond was seated next to Chelsea and told her, If I were seventy years younger, Id court you! No wonder he had lived so long. Hillary and I attended all fourteen inaugural balls; at one of them I got to dance with my beautiful daughter, now a senior in high school. She wouldnt be home much longer, and I savored the moment.
On the day after the inauguration, as a result of an investigation going back several years, the House of Representatives voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich and fine him $300,000 for several violations of House ethics rules arising out of the use of tax-exempt funds for political purposes that had been given by his supporters to allegedly charitable organizations, and for several untruthful responses to congressional investigators about his activities. The counsel for the House Ethics Committee said that Gingrich and his political supporters had violated the tax laws and that there was evidence the Speaker had intentionally misled the committee about it.
In the late 1980s, Gingrich had led the charge to remove Jim Wright as Speaker of the House because his supporters had bought, in bulk, copies of a privately published book of Wrights speeches, in an alleged attempt to get around House rules prohibiting members from accepting speaking fees. Though the charges against Gingrich were much more serious, the Republican whip, Tom DeLay, complained that the fine and reprimand were out of proportion to the offense and an abuse of the ethics process. When I was asked about the affair, I could have urged the Justice Department or the U.S. attorney to investigate the charges of tax evasion and false statements to Congress; instead, I said the House should handle it and then we should get back to the peoples business. Two years later, when the shoe was on the other foot, Gingrich and DeLay would not be so charitable.
Shortly before the inauguration, in preparation for the second term and the State of the Union, I had gathered about eighty members of the White House staff and the departments for an all-day meeting at Blair House to focus on two things: the meaning of what we had done in the first four years and what we were going to do for the next four.
I believed the first term produced six important accomplishments: (1) restoring economic growth by replacing supply-side economics with our more disciplined invest and grow policy; (2) resolving the debate over the role of government in our lives by demonstrating that it is neither the enemy nor the solution, but the instrument to give our people the tools and conditions to make the most of their own lives; (3) reaffirming the primacy of community as the operative political model for America, and rejecting divisions by race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political philosophy; (4) replacing rhetoric with reality in our social policy, actually proving government action could make a difference in areas like welfare and crime if it reflected common sense and creative thinking, rather than just tough talk and hot rhetoric; (5) reestablishing the family as the primary unit of society, one that government could strengthen with policies like the family leave law, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the minimum wage increase, the V-chip, the antiteen smoking initiative, efforts to increase adoption, and new reforms in health and education; (6) and reasserting Americas leadership in the postCold War world as a force for democracy, shared prosperity, and peace, and against the new security threats of terror, weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, narco-trafficking, and racial and religious conflicts.
These accomplishments gave us a foundation from which we could launch America into the new century. Because the Republicans were in control of Congress and because it is more difficult to enact large reforms when times are good, I wasnt sure how much we could achieve in my second term, but I was determined to keep trying.
During the State of the Union on February 4, I first asked the Congress to conclude the unfinished business of our country: balancing the budget, passing the campaign finance reform bill, and completing the process of welfare reform by providing more incentives to employers and states to hire recipients and more training, transportation, and child-care support to help people go to work. I also asked for the restoration of health and disability benefits for legal immigrants, which the Republicans had cut off in 1996 to make room in the budget for their tax cuts.
Looking to the future, I asked Congress to join me in making education our number one priority because every eight-year-old must be able to read; every twelve-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet; every eighteen-year-old must be able to go to college; and every adult American must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime. I offered a ten-point plan to achieve these goals, including the development of national standards and tests to measure progress in meeting them; certification of 100,000 master teachers by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, up from only 500 in 1995; the America Reads tutoring initiative for eight-year-olds, which sixty college presidents had already agreed to support; more children in preschool; public school choice in every state; character education in every school; a multi-billion-dollar school construction and repair program, the first since just after World War II, to repair run-down facilities and help build new ones in school districts so overcrowded that classes were being held in trailers; the $1,500 HOPE Scholarship tax credit for the first two years of college and a $10,000 tuition tax deduction for all higher education after high school; a GI Bill for Americas workers to give a skill grant to adults who needed further training; and a plan to connect every classroom and library to the Internet by 2000.
I told the Congress and the American people that one of Americas greatest strengths in the Cold War had been a bipartisan foreign policy. Now, with education critical to our security in the twenty-first century, I asked that we approach it in the same way: Politics must stop at the schoolhouse door.
I also asked the Congress to support the other commitments I had made to the American people in my campaign: the expansion of the family leave law; a large increase in AIDS research to develop a vaccine; an extension of health insurance to the children of low-income working people who couldnt afford it on their own; a comprehensive assault on juvenile crime, violence, drugs, and gangs; a doubling of the number of empowerment zones and the number of toxic waste sites cleaned up; and the continued expansion of community service programs.
In foreign policy, I asked for support for the expansion of NATO; the North Korean nuclear agreement; the extension of our Bosnian mission; our increasing engagement with China; fast track authority in trade negotiations, which requires Congress to vote on trade agreements up or down without amendments; a weapons modernization program at the Pentagon to meet new security challenges; and ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which I thought would go a long way toward protecting America from terrorist attacks with poison gas.
In the speech, I tried to reach out to Republicans as well as Democrats, telling them that I would defend any members vote on the right kind of balanced budget and quoting a scripture verse, Isaiah 58:12: thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. In one way or another, thats what I had been trying to do for most of my life.
The medias limited appetite for policy, compared with breaking scandal, became humorously apparent near the end of my speech. I had what I thought was a fine closing: I pointed out that a child born tonight will have almost no memory of the twentieth century. Everything that child will know about America will be because of what we do now to build a new century. I reminded all who were listening that there were just over a thousand days until that new century, a thousand days to build a bridge to a land of new promise. While I was making my pitch, the networks split the television screen so that viewers could also watch the jury render its verdict in the civil suit against O. J. Simpson over the murder of his wife, a suit brought after the jury in the criminal case failed to convict him. The television audience heard the civil jury rule against Simpson and my exhortations about the future simultaneously. I felt fortunate that I wasnt cut off completely, and that the public response to the speech was still positive.
Two days later I presented my budget plan to Congress. The budget brought America into balance in five years; increased investment in education by 20 percent, including the largest increase in college aid in fifty years since the GI Bill; cut spending in hundreds of other programs; provided targeted middle-class tax relief, including a $500-per-child tax credit; secured the Medicare Trust Fund, which was about to go broke, for ten years; provided health insurance to five million uninsured children, respite care for families caring for a loved one with Alzheimers, and, for the first time, mammograms for older women under Medicare; and reversed the downward spiral in international affairs spending so that we could do more to promote peace and freedom and to fight terrorism, weapons proliferation, and narco-trafficking.
Unlike two years earlier, when I had forced the Republicans to make their harsh budget proposals public before coming forward with my own, I went first. I thought it was the right thing to do, and also good politics. Now when the Republicans presented their budget, with its bigger tax cuts for upper-income people, they would have to cut back on my education and health-care proposals to pay for them. This wasnt 1994; the public had figured things out, and the Republicans wanted to get reelected. I felt sure that, within a few months, Congress would pass a balanced budget that would be pretty close to my plan.
A couple of weeks later, another attempt to pass the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution failed in the Senate as Senator Bob Torricelli of New Jersey decided to vote against it. It was a courageous vote. New Jersey was an anti-tax state, and Bob had voted for the amendment as a congressman. I hoped that his bravery would get us past the posturing and on to the business of actually balancing the budget.
In mid-month we got another economic boost when American-led negotiations in Geneva produced an agreement to liberalize world trade in telecommunications services, opening 90 percent of the markets to U.S. firms. The negotiations were launched by Al Gore and conducted by Charlene Barshefsky. Their work was certain to bring new jobs and services at lower prices to Americans, and to spread the benefits of new technologies across the world.
Around this time I was in Boston with Mayor Tom Menino. Crime, violence, and drug use were going down in America, but they were still on the rise among people under eighteen, though not in Boston, where no child had died from gun violence in eighteen months, a remarkable achievement for a large city. I proposed child trigger locks on guns to prevent accidental shootings, a massive anti-drug advertising campaign, required drug tests for young people seeking drivers licenses, and reforms in the juvenile justice system, including the kind of probation and after-school services that Boston had implemented so successfully.
There were some interesting developments in Whitewater World in February. On the seventeenth, Kenneth Starr announced he would leave his post on August 1 to become dean of the Pepperdine University Law School in southern California. He had obviously decided that Whitewater was a dry hole and this was a graceful way out, but he received heavy criticism for his decision. The press said it looked bad because his Pepperdine position had been funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, whose funding of the Arkansas Project was not yet public knowledge, but who was widely recognized as an extreme right-winger with an animus toward me. I thought their objection was flimsy; Starr was already earning lots of money representing political opponents of my administration while serving as independent counsel, and he would in fact reduce his conflicts of interest by going to Pepperdine.
What really rocked Starr was all the heat he got from the Republican right and the three or four reporters who were deeply vested in finding something wed done wrong, or at least in continuing the torment. By then, Starr had already done a lot for them: he had saddled a lot of people with big legal bills and damaged reputations, and, at enormous cost to taxpayers, had managed to drag the investigation out for three years, even after the RTC report said there was no basis for any civil or criminal action against Hillary and me. But the right wing and the Whitewater press knew that if Starr quit, it was a tacit admission that there was no there there. After they beat him up for four days he announced he would stay on. I didnt know whether to laugh or cry.
The press was also still writing about fund-raising in the 1996 campaign. Among other things, they were agitated that I had invited people who had contributed to my campaign in 1992 to spend the night at the White House, even though, as with all guests, I paid for the costs of meals and other refreshments. The implication was that I had been selling overnights in the White House to raise money for the DNC. It was ridiculous. I was an incumbent President who led in the polls from start to finish; raising money was no problem, and even if it had been, I would never have used the White House in that way. At the end of the month, I released a list of all overnight guests in the first term. There were hundreds of them, about 85 percent of whom were relatives, friends of Chelseas, foreign visitors and other dignitaries, or people whom Hillary and I had known before I started running for President. As for my supporters from 92 who were also my friends, I wanted as many of them as possible to have the honor of spending the night in the White House. Often, given the long hours I worked, the only time I had to visit with people in an informal way was late at night. There was never a single case when I raised money because of this practice. My critics seemed to be saying that the only people who shouldnt be overnight guests were friends and supporters. When I released the list, many people on it were questioned by the press. One reporter called Tony Campolo and asked if hed given me a contribution. When he said he had, he was asked how much. I think $25, he said, but it might have been $50. Oh, the reporter replied, we dont want to talk to you, and hung up.
The month ended on a happy note, as Hillary and I took Chelsea and eleven of her girlfriends to dinner at the Bombay Club restaurant in Washington for her seventeenth birthday, and later to New York to see some plays, and Hillary won a Grammy Award for the audio version of It Takes a Village. She has a great voice, and the book was full of stories she loved to tell. The Grammy was another reminder that at least beyond the Washington Beltway, a lot of Americans were interested in the same things we were.
In mid-February, Prime Minister Netanyahu came to see me to discuss the current state of the peace process, and Yasser Arafat did the same in early March. Netanyahu was constrained politically in what he could do beyond the Hebron deal. The Israelis had just begun to elect their prime minister directly, so Netanyahu had a four-year term, but he still had to put together a majority coalition in the Knesset. If he lost his coalition on the right, he could form a national unity government with Peres and the Labor Party, but he didnt want to do that. The hard-liners in his coalition knew this and were making it difficult for him to keep moving toward peace by opening the Gaza airport or even letting all the Palestinians from Gaza come back to work in Israel. Psychologically, Netanyahu faced the same challenge Rabin had: Israel had to give up something concreteland, access, jobs, an airportin return for something far less tangible: the best efforts of the PLO to prevent terrorist attacks.
I was convinced Netanyahu wanted to do more, and afraid that if he couldnt, Arafat would find it more difficult to keep the lid on violence. To further complicate matters, whenever the peace process slowed, or the Israelis retaliated for a terrorist attack or began another building program in a West Bank settlement, there was likely to be a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its continued violation of UN resolutions, and doing so in a way that suggested what the negotiated settlement should be. The Israelis depended on the United States to veto such measures, which we normally did. That enabled us to maintain our influence with them, but weakened our claim to be an honest broker with the Palestinians. I had to keep reminding Arafat that I was committed to the peace process and that only the United States could help bring it about, because the Israelis trusted America, not the European Union or Russia, to protect its security.
When Arafat came to see me I tried to work through the next steps with him. Not surprisingly, he saw things differently from Netanyahu; he thought he was supposed to prevent all violence and wait around for Netanyahus politics to permit Israel to honor its commitments under the peace agreement. I had developed a comfortable working relationship with both leaders by then and had decided the only realistic option was to keep the process from falling apart by staying in constant touch, putting things back on track when they did fall apart, and maintaining momentum, even if it came in baby steps.
On the night of March 13, after appearances in North Carolina and south Florida, I went to Greg Normans house in Hobe Sound to visit with him and his wife, Laura. It was a very pleasant evening, and the time got away from us. Before I knew it, it was after one oclock in the morning, and since we were supposed to play in a golf tournament a few hours later, I got up to leave. As we were walking down the steps, I didnt see the last one. My right foot came down on the steps edge and I began to fall. Had I fallen forward, the worst that could have happened was scratched palms. Instead, I jerked backward, heard a loud pop, and fell. The sound was so loud that Norman, who was a few feet in front of me, heard it, turned around, and caught me, or I would have been hurt far worse than I was.
An ambulance took me on the forty-minute drive to St. Marys Hospital, a Catholic institution the White House medical team had chosen because it had an excellent emergency room. I was there for the rest of the night in agonizing pain. When an MRI revealed that Id torn 90 percent of my right quadriceps, I was flown back to Washington. Hillary met Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base and watched as they lowered me out of the belly of the plane in a wheelchair. She had been scheduled to leave for Africa, but delayed her trip to get me through the necessary surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
About thirteen hours after my injury, a fine surgical team led by Dr. David Adkison gave me an epidural, put on some music by Jimmy Buffett and Lyle Lovett, and talked me through the surgery. I could see what they were doing in a glass panel above the operating table: the doctor drilled holes in my kneecap, pulled the torn muscle through them, sutured the ends to the solid part of the muscle, and put me back together. After it was over, Hillary and Chelsea helped me get through one horrible day of pain; then things began to get better.
The thing I dreaded most was the six months of rehabilitation, and not being able to jog and play golf. I would be on crutches for a couple of months and in a soft leg brace after that. And for a while I was still vulnerable to falling and reinjuring myself. The White House staff rigged my shower up with safety rails so that I could keep my balance. Soon I learned how to dress myself with the help of a little stick. I could do everything but put on my socks. The medical staff at the White House, headed by Dr. Connie Mariano, was available around the clock. The navy gave me two great physical therapists, Dr. Bob Kellogg and Nannette Paco, who worked with me every day. Even though I had been told Id gain weight during my period of immobility, by the time the physical therapists were through with me, I had lost fifteen pounds.
When I got home from the hospital, I had less than a week to get ready to meet Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki, and a big issue to deal with before then. On the seventeenth, Tony Lake came to see me and asked me to withdraw his nomination for director of central intelligence. Senator Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had delayed Lakes confirmation hearings largely on the grounds that the White House had not informed the committee of our decision to stop enforcing the arms embargo against Bosnia in 1994. I was not required by law to tell the committee and had decided that it was better not to do so in order to keep it from leaking. I knew a strong bipartisan majority of the Senate favored lifting the embargo; in fact, not long afterward, they voted for a resolution asking me to stop enforcing it.
Though I got along with Shelby well enough, I thought he was far off base in holding up Lakes confirmation and unnecessarily hampering the operations of the CIA. Tony had some strong Republican supporters, including Senator Lugar, and would have been voted out of committee and confirmed had it not been for Shelby, but he was worn down after working seventy- and eighty-hour weeks for four years. And he didnt want to risk hurting the CIA with further delays. If it had been up to me, I would have carried on the fight for a year if thats what it took to get a vote. But I could see Tony had had enough. Two days later I nominated George Tenet, the acting CIA director who had been John Deutchs deputy and before that had served as my senior aide for intelligence on the NSC, and staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was confirmed easily, but I still regret the raw deal handed to Lake, who had given thirty years to advancing Americas security interests and had played a major role in so many of our foreign policy successes in my first term.
My doctors didnt want me to go to Helsinki, but staying home wasnt an option. Yeltsin had been reelected and NATO was about to vote to admit Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic; we had to have an agreement on how to proceed.
The flight was long and uncomfortable, but the time passed quickly as I discussed with Strobe Talbott and the rest of the team what we could do to help Yeltsin live with NATO expansion, including getting Russia into the G-7 and the World Trade Organization. At a dinner that night hosted by President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, I was glad to see Yeltsin in good spirits and apparently recovering from open-heart surgery. He had lost a lot of weight and was still pale, but he was back to his old buoyant and aggressive self.
The next morning we got down to business. When I told Boris I wanted NATO both to expand and to sign an agreement with Russia, he asked me to commit secretlyin his words, in a closetto limiting future NATO expansion to the Warsaw Pact nations, thus excluding the states of the former Soviet Union, like the Baltics and Ukraine. I said I couldnt do that because, first of all, it wouldnt remain secret, and doing so would undermine the credibility of the Partnership for Peace. Nor would it be in Americas or Russias interest. NATOs governing mission was no longer directed against Russia but against the new threats to peace and stability in Europe. I pointed out that a declaration that NATO would stop its expansion with the Warsaw Pact nations would be tantamount to announcing a new dividing line in Europe, with a smaller Russian empire. That would make Russia look weaker, not stronger, whereas a NATO-Russia agreement would boost Russias standing. I also urged Yeltsin not to foreclose the possibility of future Russian membership.
Yeltsin was still afraid of the domestic reaction to expansion. At one point when we were alone, I asked, Boris, do you really think I would allow NATO to attack Russia from bases in Poland? No, he replied, I dont, but a lot of older people who live in the western part of Russia and listen to Zyuganov do. He reminded me that, unlike the United States, Russia had been invaded twiceby Napoleon and by Hitlerand the trauma of those events still colored the countrys collective psychology and shaped its politics. I told Yeltsin that if he would agree to NATO expansion and the NATO-Russia partnership, I would make a commitment not to station troops or missiles in the new member countries prematurely, and to support Russian membership in the new G-8, the World Trade Organization, and other international organizations. We had a deal.
Yeltsin and I also faced two arms control problems at Helsinki: the reluctance of the Russian Duma to ratify START II, which would reduce both our nuclear arsenals by two-thirds from their Cold War peak; and the growing opposition in Russia to Americas development of missile defense systems. When the Russian economy collapsed and the military budget was slashed, the START II treaty had turned into a bad deal for them. It required both countries to dismantle their multiple-warhead missiles, called MIRVs, and provided for parity in both sides single-warhead arsenals. Since Russia relied more heavily than the United States on MIRVs, the Russians would have to build a considerable number of single-warhead missiles to regain parity, and they couldnt afford to do it. I told Yeltsin I didnt want START II to give us strategic superiority and suggested that our teams come up with a solution that included adopting targets for a START III treaty that would take both countries down to between 2,000 and 2,500 warheads, an 80 percent reduction from the Cold War high, and a number sufficiently small so that Russia wouldnt have to build new missiles to be at parity with us. There was some reluctance in the Pentagon to go that low, but General Shalikashvili believed it was safe to do so, and Bill Cohen backed him. Within a short time, we agreed to extend the deadline for START II from 2002 to 2007 and to have START III come into effect the same year, so that Russia would never be at a strategic disadvantage.
On the second issue, since the 1980s the United States had been exploring missile defense, beginning with President Reagans idea of a sky-based system that would shoot down all hostile missiles and thus free the world from the specter of nuclear war. There were two problems with the idea: it wasnt yet technically feasible, and a national missile defense system (NMD) would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which forbade such systems because if one country had an NMD and the other didnt, the latters nuclear arsenal might no longer be a deterrent to an attack by the nation with the NMD.
Les Aspin, my first secretary of defense, had shifted the emphasis of our efforts away from developing defenses that could shoot down long-range Russian missiles to funding a theater missile defense (TMD) that could protect our soldiers and other people from shorter-range missiles like those being developed by Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea. They were a real danger; in the Gulf War twenty-eight of our soldiers had been killed by an Iraqi Scud missile.
I strongly supported the TMD program, which was permitted by the ABM Treaty and which, as I told Yeltsin, might someday be used to defend both our nations on a common battlefield, in the Balkans or elsewhere. The problem Russia had with our position was that it was unclear what the dividing line was between theater missile defense and the larger ones prohibited by the treaty. The new technologies developed for TMD might later be adaptable for use against ABMs, in violation of the treaty. Eventually, both sides agreed to a technical definition of the dividing line between permissible programs and prohibited ones that allowed us to proceed with the TMD.
The Helsinki summit was an unexpected success, thanks in no small measure to Yeltsins capacity to imagine a different future for Russia, in which it would affirm its greatness in terms other than territorial domination, and his willingness to stand against prevailing opinion in the Duma and sometimes even within his own government. Though our work never realized its full potential because the Duma still refused to ratify START II, the stage was set for a successful NATO summit in July in Madrid to move us further along the road to a united Europe.
When I got home, the reaction was generally favorable, though Henry Kissinger and some other Republicans criticized me for agreeing not to deploy nuclear weapons and foreign troops closer to Russia in the new member states. Yeltsin got hit hard by the old Communists, who said he had caved in to me on the important issues. Zyuganov said Yeltsin had let his friend Bill kick him in the rear. Yeltsin had just kicked Zyuganov in the rear in the election by fighting for tomorrows Russia instead of yesterdays. I thought he would weather this storm, too.
When Hillary and Chelsea got home from Africa, they regaled me with their adventures. Africa was important to America, and Hillarys trip, much like her earlier one to South Asia, emphasized our commitment to supporting leaders and ordinary citizens in their efforts to find peace, prosperity, and freedom and to roll back the tide of AIDS.
On the last day of the month, I announced the appointment of Wes Clark to succeed General George Joulwan as the commander in chief, U.S. European Command, and Supreme Allied Commander of the NATO forces in Europe. I admired both men. Joulwan had vigorously supported an aggressive NATO stance in Bosnia, and Clark had been an integral part of Dick Holbrookes negotiating team. I felt he was the best person to continue our firm commitment to peace in the Balkans.
In April, I saw King Hussein and Prime Minister Netanyahu in an attempt to keep the peace process from falling apart. Violence had broken out again, in the wake of an Israeli decision to build new housing in Har Homa, an Israeli settlement on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. Every time Netanyahu took a step forward, as with the Hebron agreement, his governing coalition made him do something that drove a wedge between Israel and the Palestinians. During the same period, a Jordanian soldier had gone berserk and killed seven Israeli schoolchildren. King Hussein immediately went to Israel and apologized. That diffused the tensions between Israel and Jordan, but Arafat was left with the continuing demand of the United States and Israel that he suppress terror while living with the Har Homa project, which he felt contradicted Israels commitment not to change areas on the ground that were supposed to be resolved in the negotiations.
When King Hussein came to see me, he was worried that the step-by-step peace process that had been working under Rabin couldnt succeed now because of the political constraints on Netanyahu. Netanyahu was concerned about that, too; he had expressed some interest in trying to accelerate the process by moving to the difficult final status issues quickly. Hussein thought that if this could be done, we should try. When Netanyahu came to the White House a few days later, I told him I would support this approach, but in order to get Arafat to agree, he would have to find a way to follow through on the interim steps the Palestinians had already been promised, including the opening of the Gaza airport, safe passage between Gaza and the Palestinian areas in the West Bank, and economic assistance.
I spent most of the month in an intense effort to convince the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention: calling and meeting with members of Congress; agreeing with Jesse Helms to move the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the U.S. Information Agency into the State Department in return for his allowing a vote on the CWC, which he opposed; and holding an event on the South Lawn with distinguished Republicans and military supporters of the treaty, including Colin Powell and James Baker, to counter conservative Republican opposition from people like Helms, Caspar Weinberger, and Donald Rumsfeld.
I was surprised at the conservative opposition, since all our military leaders strongly supported the CWC, but it reflected the rights deep skepticism about international cooperation in general and its desire to maintain maximum freedom of action now that the United States was the worlds only superpower. Near the end of the month, I reached an agreement with Senator Lott to add some language that he felt strengthened the treaty. Finally, with Lotts support, the CWC was ratified, 7426. Interestingly, I watched the Senate vote on television with Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who was in town to meet with me the next day, and I thought he would like to see the ratification after what Japan had suffered in the sarin gas attack.
On the home front, I named Sandy Thurman of Atlanta, one of Americas foremost AIDS advocates, to head the Office of National AIDS Policy. Since 1993 our overall investment in combating HIV and AIDS had increased 60 percent, we had approved eight new AIDS drugs and nineteen others for AIDS-related conditions, and the death rate was going down in America. Still, we were a long way from a vaccine or a cure, and the problem had exploded in Africa, where we werent doing enough. Thurman was bright, energetic, and forceful; I knew she would keep us all on our toes.
On the last day of April, Hillary and I made public Chelseas decision to attend Stanford in the fall. In her typically methodical way, Chelsea had also visited Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, and Wellesley, and had been to several of them twice to get a feel for the academic and social life of each institution. Given her excellent grades and test scores, she had been accepted by all of them, and Hillary had hoped she would stay closer to home. I always suspected Chelsea would like to get far away from Washington. I just wanted her to go to a school where she would learn a lot, make good friends, and enjoy herself. But her mother and I were going to miss her badly. Having Chelsea at home in our first four years in the White House, going to her school and ballet events, and getting to know her friends and their parents had been a joy, repeatedly reminding us, no matter what else was going on, of what a blessing our daughter was.
Economic growth in the first quarter of 1997 was reported to be 5.6 percent, which pushed the estimated deficit down to $75 billion, about a quarter of what it was when I took office. On May 2, I announced that, at long last, I had reached a balanced budget agreement with Speaker Gingrich and Senator Lott and the congressional negotiators for both parties. Senator Tom Daschle also announced his support for the agreement; Dick Gephardt did not, but I was hoping he would come around once he had a chance to review it. The deal was much easier to make this time because economic growth had brought unemployment below 5 percent for the first time since 1973, boosting payrolls, profits, and tax revenues.
In broad terms, the agreement extended the life of Medicare for a decade, while providing the annual mammogram and diabetes screening initiatives I wanted; extended health coverage to five million children, the largest expansion since the passage of Medicaid in the 1960s; contained the largest increase in education spending in thirty years; gave more incentives to businesses to hire welfare recipients; restored health benefits to disabled legal immigrants; funded the cleanup of five hundred more toxic waste sites; and provided tax relief close to the amount I had recommended.
I met the Republicans halfway on the amount of Medicare savings, which I now believed we could achieve with good policy changes that didnt hurt senior citizens, and the Republicans accepted a smaller tax cut, the child health insurance program, and the big education increase. We got about 95 percent of the new investments I had recommended in the State of the Union, and the Republicans took about two-thirds of the tax cut figure they had originally proposed. The tax cuts would now be far smaller than the Reagan tax reduction of 1981. I was elated that the countless hours of meetings, begun in late 1995 under the threat of a government shutdown, had produced the first balanced budget since 1969, and a good one to boot. Senator Lott and Speaker Gingrich had worked with us in good faith, and Erskine Bowles, with his negotiating skills and common sense, had kept things going with them and the principal congressional negotiators at critical moments.
Later in the month, when the budget agreement was brought to a vote in a resolution, 64 percent of the House Democrats joined 88 percent of the House Republicans in voting for it. In the Senate, where Tom Daschle was supporting the agreement, Democrats were in favor of the agreement even more strongly than Republicans, 82 to 74 percent.
I took some criticism from Democrats who objected to the tax cut or to the fact that we were making the agreement at all. They argued that if we did nothing, the budget would be balanced the next year or the year afterward anyway because of the 1993 plan only Democrats had voted for; now we were going to let Republicans share the credit. That was true, but we were also going to get the biggest increase in higher education aid in fifty years, health care for five million kids, and middle-class tax cuts I supported.
On the fifth, Mexican Independence Day, I left for a trip to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Little over a decade earlier, our neighbors had been plagued with civil wars, coups, dictators, closed economies, and desperate poverty. Now every nation in the hemisphere except one was a democracy, and the region as a whole was our largest trading partner; we exported twice as much to the Americas as to Europe and almost 50 percent more than to Asia. Still, there was too much poverty in the region, and we had serious problems with drugs and illegal immigration.
I took a number of cabinet members and a bipartisan congressional delegation to Mexico with me as we announced new agreements designed to reduce illegal immigration and the influx of drugs across the Rio Grande. President Zedillo was an able, honest man with a strong supporting team, and I was sure he would try his best to deal with these problems. While I knew we could do better, I doubted there was a completely satisfactory solution to either of the two problems. There were a number of contributing factors to take into account. Mexico was poorer than the United States; the border was long; millions of Mexicans had relatives in our country; and many illegal immigrants came to the United States looking for work, often at low-paying, demanding jobs most Americans didnt want to do. As for drugs, our demand was a magnet for them, and the drug cartels had a lot of money with which to bribe Mexican officials and plenty of hired guns to intimidate or kill those who didnt want to cooperate. Some Mexican border police were offered five times their annual salary to look the other way on just one drug shipment. One honest prosecutor in northern Mexico had been shot more than one hundred times right in front of his house. These were tough problems, but I thought the implementation of our agreements would help.
In Costa Rica, a beautiful country with no permanent military organization and perhaps the most advanced environmental policy in the world, President Jos Mara Figueres hosted the Central American leaders for a meeting that focused on trade and the environment. NAFTA had inadvertently hurt Central America and the Caribbean nations by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with Mexico in trading with the United States. I wanted to do what I could to rectify the inequity. The next day I made the same point in Bridgetown, Barbados, where Prime Minister Owen Arthur hosted the first meeting ever held between a U.S. President and all the leaders of the Caribbean nations in their own territory.
Immigration was also a big issue at both meetings. Many Central Americans and people from the Caribbean nations were working in the United States and sending money back home to their families, providing a major source of income in the smaller nations. The leaders were worried about the anti-immigration stance Republicans had taken and wanted my assurances that there would be no mass deportations. I gave it to them, but also said we had to enforce our immigration laws.
At the end of the month I flew to Paris for the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. Yeltsin had kept his Helsinki commitment: NATOs Cold War adversary was now its partner.
After a stop in the Netherlands to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Marshall Plan, I flew to London for my first official meeting with the new British prime minister, Tony Blair. His Labour Party had won a big victory over the Tories in the recent election as a result of Blairs leadership, Labours more modern and more moderate message, and the natural ebbing of support for the Conservatives after their many years in power. Blair was young, articulate, and forceful, and we shared many of the same political views. I thought he had the potential to be an important leader for the UK and all of Europe, and was excited about the prospect of working with him.
Hillary and I went to dinner with Tony and Cherie Blair at a restaurant in a restored warehouse district on the Thames. We felt like old friends from the start. The British press was fascinated by the similarity in our philosophies and politics, and the questions they asked seemed to have an impact on the American press traveling with me. For the first time, I had the feeling that they were beginning to believe there was something more than rhetoric to my New Democrat approach.
On June 6, my mothers birthday, I gave the commencement address at Chelseas graduation ceremony at Sidwell Friends School. Teddy Roosevelt had spoken to the Sidwell students almost a century earlier, but I was there in a different role, not as a President but as a father. When I asked Chelsea what she wanted me to say, she replied, Dad, I want you to be wise, briefly, then added, The girls want you to be wise; the boys just want you to be funny. I wanted the speech to be my gift to her, and I was up until three in the morning the night before the commencement writing it out, over and over again.
I told Chelsea and her classmates that on this day their parents pride and joy are tempered by our coming separation from you . . . we are remembering your first day in school and all the triumphs and travails between then and now. Though we have raised you for this moment of departure and we are very proud of you, a part of us longs to hold you once more as we did when you could barely walk, to read to you just one more time Goodnight Moon or Curious George or The Little Engine That Could. I said that an exciting world beckoned and they had almost limitless choices, and I reminded them of Eleanor Roosevelts adage that no one can make you feel inferior without your permission: Do not give them permission.
When Chelsea walked up to get her diploma, I hugged her and told her I loved her. After the ceremony several parents thanked me for saying what they were thinking and feeling, then we went back to the White House for a graduation party. Chelsea was touched to see the entire residence staff gathered to congratulate her. She had come a long way from the young girl with braces we had brought to the White House four and a half years earlier, and she had only just begun.
Soon after Chelseas graduation, I accepted the recommendation of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission that human cloning was morally unacceptable and proposed that Congress ban it. It had become an issue since the cloning of Dolly the sheep in Scotland. Cloning technology had been used for some time to increase agricultural production and to achieve biomedical advances in the treatment of can-cer, diabetes, and other disorders. It held great promise for producing replacement skin, cartilage, and bone tissue for burn and accident victims, and nerve tissue to treat spinal cord injuries. I didnt want to interfere with all that, but thought we should draw the line at human cloning. Just a month earlier I had apologized for the unconscionable and racist syphilis experiments performed on hundreds of black men decades earlier by the federal government in Tuskegee, Alabama.
In mid-June, I went to the University of California at San Diego to speak about Americas continuing struggle to rid itself of racial discrimination and make the most of our growing diversity. The United States still suffered from discrimination, bigotry, hate crimes, and great disparities in income, education, and health care. I appointed a seven-member commission chaired by the distinguished scholar John Hope Franklin to educate America about the state of race relations and to make recommendations to help build One America in the twenty-first century. I would coordinate the efforts through a new White House office headed by Ben Johnson.
In late June, Denver served as the host city for the annual G-7 meeting. I had pledged to Yeltsin that Russia would be fully included, but the finance ministers opposed the move because of Russias economic weaknesses. Since Russia depended on the financial support of the international community, they felt it shouldnt be in on the G-7s financial decision making. I could understand why the finance ministers needed to meet and make decisions without Russia, but the G-7 was also a political organization; being in it would symbolize Russias importance to the future and strengthen Yeltsin at home. We had already called this meeting the Summit of Eight. In the end, we voted to take Russia in as a full member of the new G-8, but to allow the finance ministers of the other seven nations to continue to meet on appropriate matters. Now Yeltsin and I had both kept our Helsinki commitments.
At about this time, Mir Aimal Kansi, who was believed to be responsible for murdering two CIA employees and wounding three others at CIA headquarters in 1993, was brought back to the United States from Pakistan to stand trial after intense efforts to secure his extradition by the FBI, the CIA, and the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense. It was strong evidence of our determination to track down terrorists and bring them to justice.
A week later, after a heated debate, the House of Representatives voted to continue normal trade relations with China. Although the motion carried by eighty-six votes, it sparked strong opposition from conservatives and liberals who disapproved of Chinas human rights and trade policies. I also supported more political freedom in China, and had recently invited the Dalai Lama and Hong Kong human rights activist Martin Lee to the White House to highlight my support for the cultural and religious integrity of Tibet and for maintaining Hong Kongs democracy now that the UK had restored it to China. I thought the trade relationship could be improved only through negotiations leading to Chinas entry into the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, we needed to stay involved with, not isolate, China. Interestingly, Martin Lee agreed, and supported the continuation of our trade relationship.
Soon afterward, I flew home to Hope for the funeral of Oren Grisham, my ninety-two-year-old uncle Buddy, who had played such a large role in my life. When I got to the funeral home, his family and I immediately started swapping funny stories about him. As one of my relatives said, he was the salt of the earth and the spice of life. According to Wordsworth, the best portion of a good mans life is his little, unremembered acts of kindness and love. Buddy had showered them on me when I was young and fatherless. In December, Hillary gave me a beautiful chocolate Labrador retriever to keep me company with Chelsea gone. He was a good-natured, high-spirited, intelligent dog. I named him Buddy.
In early July, Hillary, Chelsea, and I, after a couple of relaxing days with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on the island of Majorca, were in Madrid for the NATO meeting. I had a fruitful discussion with the Spanish president, Jos Mara Aznar, who had just decided to fully integrate Spain into NATOs command structure. Then NATO voted to admit Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, and made clear to the two dozen other nations that had joined the Partnership for Peace that NATOs door remained open to new members. From the beginning of my presidency, I had pushed for the expansion of NATO and believed this historic step would help both to unify Europe and to maintain the trans-Atlantic alliance.
The next day we signed a partnership agreement with Ukraine, and I left for stops in Poland, Romania, and Denmark to reinforce the meaning of NATO expansion. There were large, enthusiastic crowds in Warsaw, Bucharest, and Copenhagen. In Poland, they were celebrating their new NATO membership. In Bucharest, about 100,000 people chanted U.S.A, U.S.A.! to demonstrate their support for democracy and their desire to enter NATO as soon as possible. In Copenhagen, on a bright sunny day, the size and enthusiasm of the crowd reflected an affirmation of our alliance and an appreciation of the fact that I was the first sitting President ever to visit Denmark.
By mid-month, I was back at work in the White House, proposing legislation to ban discrimination based on genetic screening. Scientists were rapidly unlocking the mysteries of the human genome, and their discoveries were likely to save millions of lives and revolutionize health care. But genetic testing would also reveal an individuals propensity to develop various illnesses, like breast cancer or Parkinsons. We couldnt allow the results of genetic tests to be the basis for denying health insurance or access to a job, and we didnt want to discourage people from undergoing them out of fear that the results would be used against them rather than to lengthen their lives.
At about the same time, the IRA restored the cease-fire it had broken in February 1996. I had pushed hard for the cease-fire, and it would hold this time, making it possible at last for the Irish to find their way through the thicket of accumulated hurt and suspicion to a shared future.
As July was drawing to a close, we still hadnt been able to agree on a detailed budget consistent with the earlier, more general agreement with the Republicans. We remained at odds over the size and shape of the tax cuts and over the allocation of new funds. While our team continued to negotiate with Congress, I went on with the rest of my job, asserting that, contrary to the dominant opinion in Congress, global warming was a reality and that we had to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and holding a forum with Al Gore and other federal and state officials at Incline Village, Nevada, on the condition of Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe was one of the deepest, purest, cleanest lakes in the world, but its quality was degrading as a result of development, air pollution from traffic, and direct pollution from fuel that was discharged into the water from inefficient motorboats and Jet Ski engines. There was broad bipartisan support in California and Nevada for restoring the lake, and Al and I were determined to do everything possible to help.
At the end of the month, after I spoke to the National Governors Association in Las Vegas, Governor Bob Miller took me and several of my former colleagues to play golf with Michael Jordan. I had started playing again only two weeks earlier and was still wearing a soft leg brace for protection. I didnt really think I needed it anymore, so I took it off for the golf match.
Jordan was a great golfer, a long if sometimes erratic driver who also had a great short game. I got some insight into why he had won so many NBA championships when our group played a short par-five hole. All five of us had a good chance to make a birdie four. Jordan looked at his forty-five-foot downhill breaking putt and said, Well, I guess I have to make this to win the hole. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he actually expected to make the difficult putt. He did, and won the hole.
Jordan told me Id play better if I put my leg brace back on: Your body doesnt need it anymore, but your mind doesnt know it yet. One reason I wasnt playing better is that I was constantly on the phone to the White House for an update on the budget negotiations, as we made last-minute offers and compromises in an effort to conclude them.
A little more than halfway through the match, Rahm Emanuel called to say we had a deal. Then Erskine called to confirm it and tell me how good it was. We got all our education and health money, the tax cut was modest, about 10 percent of the Reagan cut in 81, the Medicare savings were manageable, the middle-class tax cuts were in, the capital gains tax rate would be reduced from 28 to 20 percent, and everyone agreed that the budget would be balanced by 2002, and probably before then if the economy kept growing. Erskine and our whole team, especially my legislative aide, John Hilley, had done a great job. I was so happy I parred the next three holes, with my leg brace back on.
The next day we had a big celebration on the South Lawn with all the members of Congress and the administration who had worked on the budget. The atmosphere was euphoric and the speeches were warm, generous, and bipartisan, although I did go out of my way to thank the Democrats, especially Ted Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller, and Hillary, for the childrens health plan. Because the deficit had already been reduced by more than 80 percent from its $290 billion high in 1993, the agreement was basically a progressive budget, with middle-class tax cuts I supported and the Republican capital gains cut. In addition to the health, education, and tax cut provisions, it raised the cigarette tax fifteen cents a pack to help pay for the childrens health insurance, restored $12 billion in disability and health benefits to legal immigrants, doubled the number of empowerment zones, and gave us the money to continue cleaning up the environment.
With all the sweetness and light at the White House that day, it was hard to remember that wed been at each others throats for more than two years. I didnt know how long the good feelings would last, but Id worked hard to keep things more civil during the stressful negotiations. A few weeks earlier Trent Lott, who was miffed about having lost a minor legislative battle to the White House, had called me a spoiled brat on one of the Sunday-morning talk shows. A few days after Lotts remarks I called and told him I knew what had happened and not to give it a second thought. After a hard week he had awakened on Sunday morning feeling bad and wishing he had never agreed to do the TV interview. He was tired and irritable, and when the interviewer goaded him about me he took the bait. He laughed and said, Thats exactly what happened, and the matter was behind us.
Most people who work hard under a lot of pressure occasionally say things they wish they hadnt; I certainly had. Usually, I didnt even read what the Republicans were saying about me, and if a harsh comment came to my attention I tried to ignore it. People hire Presidents to act for them; getting agitated about personal slights interferes with that. Im glad I called Trent Lott and wish Id made more calls like it in similar situations.
I didnt feel the same sense of detachment toward Ken Starrs continuing efforts to coerce people into making false charges against Hillary and me, and to prosecute those who refused to lie for him. In April, Jim McDougal, having changed his story to suit Starr and his deputy in Arkansas, Hick Ewing, finally went to jail with a recommendation from Starr that his sentence be shortened. Starr had done the same thing for David Hale.
Starrs coddling of McDougal and Hale was in sharp contrast to his treatment of Susan McDougal, who was still being held in prison for contempt because of her refusal to answer Starrs questions before the grand jury. After a brief period in an Arkansas county jail, to which she was led in handcuffs, leg manacles, and a waist chain, Susan was transferred to a federal facility, where she was kept apart from the other prisoners in a medical unit for a few months. She was then taken to a Los Angeles jail to answer charges there that she had embezzled funds from a former employer. When newly discovered documentary evidence shredded the prosecutions case, she was acquitted. Meanwhile, she was forced to spend twenty-three hours a day in a windowless cell block usually inhabited by convicted murderers. She was also forced to wear a red dress, normally worn only by murderers and child molesters. After a few months of that, she was put in a Plexiglas cell in the middle of a jail pod; she couldnt talk to other inmates, watch television, or even hear outside sounds. On the prison bus to her court appearances, she was put in a separate cage otherwise reserved for dangerous criminals. Her Hannibal Lecterlike confinement finally came to an end on July 30, after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit alleging that McDougal was being held in barbaric conditions at Starrs request, in an attempt to coerce her to testify.
Years later, when I read McDougals book, The Woman Who Wouldnt Talk, it sent chills up my spine. She could have ended her suffering at any time, and made a lot of money to boot, just by telling the lies Starr and Hick Ewing wanted her to tell. How she stood up to them Ill never know, but the sight of her in chains finally began to penetrate the shield the Whitewater reporters had erected around Starr and his staff.
Late in the spring, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Paula Jones suit could go forward while I was still in the White House, dismissing my attorneys arguments that the work of the presidency should not be interrupted by the suit, since it could be litigated at the end of my term. The Courts previous decisions had indicated that a sitting President could not be the subject of a civil suit arising out of his official actions while President because the defense would be too distracting and time-consuming. The Court said that adopting a principle of delay in involving a Presidents unofficial acts could cause harm to the other party in the suit, so Joness suit should not be delayed. Besides, the Court said, defending the suit wouldnt be unduly burdensome or time-consuming for me. It was one of the most politically nave decisions the Supreme Court had made in a long time.
On June 25 the Washington Post reported that Kenneth Starr was investigating rumors that twelve to fifteen women, including Jones, had been involved with me. He said he had no interest in my sex life; he just wanted to question anyone with whom I might have had a conversation about Whitewater. Eventually Starr would deploy scores of FBI agents, as well as taxpayer-funded private investigators, to look into the subject in which he professed no interest.
By the end of July, I was getting concerned about the FBI, for reasons far more important than the bureaus sex inquiries for Ken Starr. There had been a whole series of missteps on Louis Freehs watch: botched reports from the FBI forensic laboratory that threatened several pending criminal cases; large cost overruns on two computer systems designed to upgrade the National Crime Information Center and to provide quick fingerprint checks to police officers all across the country; the release of FBI files on Republican officials to the White House; and the naming and apparent attempted entrapment of Richard Jewell, a suspect in the Olympic bombing case who was subsequently cleared. There was also a criminal inquiry under way into the conduct of Freehs deputy, Larry Potts, in the deadly standoff at Ruby Ridge in 1992, for which the FBI had been heavily criticized and Potts had been censured before Freeh appointed him.
Freeh had been criticized in the press and by Republicans in Congress, who cited the FBI missteps as the reason for their refusal to pass the provision in my anti-terrorism legislation that would have given the agency wiretap authority to track suspected terrorists as they moved from place to place.
There was one sure way for Freeh to please the Republicans in Congress and get the press off his back: he could assume an adversarial position toward the White House. Whether out of conviction or necessity, Freeh had begun to do just that. When the files case became public, his initial reaction was to blame the White House and decline to accept any responsibility for the FBI. When the campaign finance story broke, he wrote Janet Reno a memo that was leaked to the press, urging her to appoint an independent counsel. When reports surfaced of possible attempts by the Chinese government to funnel illegal contributions to members of Congress in 1996, lower-level agents briefed people well down the chain of command in the National Security Council about it and urged them not to tell their superiors. When Madeleine Albright was preparing to go to China, the White House counsel, Chuck Ruff, a respected former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official, asked the FBI for information about Beijings plans to influence the government. This was clearly something the secretary of state needed to know about before meeting with the Chinese, but Freeh personally ordered the FBI not to send its prepared reply, despite the fact that it had been approved by the Justice Department and two of Freehs top assistants.
I didnt believe Freeh was foolish enough to think the Democratic Party would knowingly accept illegal contributions from the Chinese government; he was just trying to avoid criticism from the press and the Republicans, even if it damaged our foreign policy operations. I thought back to the call I had received the day before I appointed Freeh from the retired FBI agent in Arkansas pleading with me not to name him and warning that he would sell me down the river the minute it would benefit him to do so.
Whatever Freehs motives, the behavior of the FBI toward the White House was just one more example of how crazy Washington had become. The country was in good shape and getting better, and we were advancing peace and prosperity throughout the world, yet the mindless search for scandal continued. A few months earlier Tom Oliphant, the thoughtful and independent-minded Boston Globe columnist, summed up the situation well:
The grand and vainglorious forces running The Great American Scandal Machine are very big on how things seem. The machines lifeblood is appearances, which generate questions, creating more appearances, all in turn generating a righteous frenzy that demands intense inquiry by super-scrupulous inquisitors who must at all costs be independent. The frenzy, of course, can be resisted only by the complicit and the guilty.
August began with good and bad news. Unemployment was down to 4.8 percent, the lowest since 1973, and confidence in the future remained high in the aftermath of the bipartisan balanced budget agreement. On the other hand, the cooperation didnt extend to the appointments process: Jesse Helms was holding up my nomination of the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld, to be ambassador to Mexico because he felt Weld had insulted him, and Janet Reno told the American Bar Association that there were 101 vacant federal judgeships because the Senate had confirmed only nine of my nominees in 1997, none for the court of appeals.
After a two-year hiatus, our family went back to Marthas Vineyard for our August vacation. We stayed at the home of our friend Dick Friedman near Oyster Pond. I celebrated my birthday by going for a jog with Chelsea, and I persuaded Hillary to play her annual round of golf with me at the Mink Meadows public course. She had never liked golf, but once a year she humored me by strolling around a few holes. I also played a lot of golf with Vernon Jordan at the wonderful old Farm Neck course. He liked the game a lot more than Hillary did.
The month ended as it began, with both good and bad news. On the twenty-ninth, Tony Blair invited Sinn Fein to join the Irish peace talks, giving the party formal standing for the first time. On the thirty-first, Princess Diana was killed in an auto crash in Paris. Less than a week later, Mother Teresa died. Hillary was very saddened by their deaths. She had known and liked both of them very much, and she represented the United States at both funerals, flying first to London, then to Calcutta a few days later.
During August, I also had to announce a major disappointment: the United States would not be able to sign the international treaty banning land mines. The circumstances leading to our exclusion were almost bizarre. The United States had spent $153 million on demining all over the world since 1993; we had recently lost a plane with nine people on board after depositing a demining team in southwest Africa; we had trained more than 25 percent of the worlds demining experts; and we had destroyed 1.5 million of our own mines, with another 1.5 million scheduled to be destroyed by 1999. No other nation had done as much as America to rid the world of dangerous land mines.
Near the end of negotiations on the treaty, I had asked for two amendments: an exception for the heavily marked UN-sanctioned minefield along the Korean border, which protected the people of South Korea and our troops there; and a rewording of the provision approving anti-tank missiles that covered those manufactured in Europe but not ours. Ours were just as safe and worked better to protect our troops. Both amendments were rejected, partly because the Landmine Conference was determined to pass the strongest possible treaty in the wake of the death of its most famous champion, Princess Diana, and partly because some people at the conference just wanted to embarrass the United States or bully us into signing the treaty as it was. I hated not to be part of the international agreement because it undermined our leverage in trying to stop the manufacture and use of more land mines, some of which could be bought for as little as three dollars each, but I couldnt put the safety of our troops or the people of South Korea at risk.
On September 18, Hillary and I took Chelsea to Stanford. We wanted her new life to be as normal as possible and had worked with the Secret Service to make sure she would be assigned young agents who would dress informally and be as unobtrusive as they could be. Stanford had agreed to bar media access to her on campus. We enjoyed the welcoming ceremonies and visits with the other parents, after which we took Chelsea to her dorm room and helped her move in. Chelsea was happy and excited; Hillary and I were a little sad and anxious. Hillary tried to deal with it by scurrying around and helping Chelsea organize things, even lining her drawers with Contac paper. I had carried her luggage up the stairs to her room, then fixed her bunk bed. After that, I just stared out the window, as her mother got on Chelseas nerves with all the fixing up. When the student speaker at the convocation, Blake Harris, had said to all the parents that our children would miss us in about a month and for about fifteen minutes, we all laughed. I hoped it was true, but we sure would miss her. When it was time to go, Hillary had pulled herself together and was ready. Not me; I wanted to stay for dinner.
On the last day of September, I attended the retirement ceremony of General John Shalikashvili and gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He had been a superb chairman of the Joint Chiefs, supporting the expansion of NATO, the creation of the Partnership for Peace, and the deployment of our troops in more than forty operations, including Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, Rwanda, and the Taiwan Strait. I had really enjoyed working with him. He was intelligent, straight-talking, and completely committed to the welfare of our men and women in uniform. As his replacement I named General Hugh Shelton, who had so impressed me with his handling of the Haiti operation.
The early fall was largely devoted to foreign affairs, as I took my first trip to South America. I traveled to Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina to express the importance of Latin America to Americas future and to keep pushing the idea of a free trade area covering all the Americas. Venezuela was our number one oil supplier and had always made more petroleum available to the United States when we needed it, from World War II to the Gulf War. My visit was brief and uncomplicated; its highlight was a speech to the people of Caracas at the tomb of Simn Bolvar.
Brazil was a different story. There had long been tensions between our two countries; many Brazilians had long resented the United States. Brazil was the leader of the Mercosur trading bloc, which also included Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and which had a larger volume of trade with Europe than with the United States. On the other hand, the Brazilian president, Henrique Cardoso, was a modern, effective leader who wanted a good relationship with the United States and who understood that a stronger partnership with us would help him to modernize his countrys economy, reduce its chronic poverty, and increase its influence in the world.
I had been fascinated by Brazil since the great jazz saxophonist Stan Getz popularized its music in America in the 1960s, and ever since then I had wanted to see its cities and beautiful landscapes. I also respected and liked Cardoso. He had already been to Washington on a state visit, and I thought he was one of the most impressive leaders I had met. I wanted to affirm our mutual dedication to a closer economic partnership and to support his policies, especially those to sustain Brazils vast rain forest, which had been severely reduced by overclearing, and to improve education. Cardoso had initiated an intriguing program called bolsa escola, which made monthly cash payments to poor Brazilians if their children attended school at least 85 percent of the time.
There was an interesting moment in our press conference, which, besides several questions on American-Brazilian relations and climate change, included four from the American press on the ongoing controversy back home over the financing of the 96 campaign. A reporter asked if it embarrassed me or the country to have such questions asked on a foreign trip. I replied, Thats a decision for you. You have to decide what questions youre going to ask. I cant be embarrassed about how you decide to do your job.
After a visit to a school in a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro with Brazils soccer legend Pel, Hillary and I went to Braslia for a state dinner at the presidential residence, where Henrique and Ruth Cardoso gave us a taste of the Brazilian music I had loved for more than thirty years, a womens percussion ensemble playing pulsating rhythms on different-sized metal plates tied to their bodies, and a fabulous singer from Bahia, Virginia Rodrigues.
Argentinas President Carlos Menem had been a strong ally of the United States, supporting America in the Gulf War and in Haiti and adopting a strong free-market economic policy. He hosted a barbeque at the Rural Center in Buenos Aires that included tango lessons for Hillary and me and a demonstration of Argentine horsemanship: a man riding around the rodeo arena standing atop two broad-shouldered stallions.
President Menem also took us to Bariloche, a beautiful resort town in Patagonia, to discuss global warming and what I hoped would be our common response to the problem. The international conference on climate change was coming up in December in Kyoto, Japan. I strongly favored setting aggressive targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for both developed and developing nations, but I wanted to achieve the targets not through regulations and taxes but through market incentives to promote energy conservation and the use of clean energy technology. Bariloche was a perfect site to highlight the importance of the environment. Just across the cold, clear lake from the Llao Llao Hotel where we stayed, Hillary and I walked through the magical Arrayanes forest, with its barkless myrtle trees. The trees were stained orange by tannic acid and were cool to the touch. Their survival resulted from perfect soil, clean water, clean air, and a moderate climate. The right action against climate change would preserve the fragile, unique trees and the stability of much of the rest of our planet.
On October 26, back in Washington, Capricia Marshall, Kelly Craighead, and the rest of Hillarys staff put together a big fiftieth birthday celebration for her under a tent on the South Lawn. Chelsea came home to surprise her. There were tables with food and music from every decade of her life, with people standing by them who had known her in each period: from Illinois in the fifties, Wellesley in the sixties, Yale in the seventies, and Arkansas in the eighties.
The next day, Jiang Zemin came to Washington. I invited him to the residence for an informal meeting that night. After almost five years of working with him, I was impressed with Jiangs political skills, his desire to integrate China into the world community, and the economic growth that had accelerated under his leadership and that of his prime minister, Zhu Rongji, but I was still concerned about Chinas continued suppression of basic freedoms and its imprisonment of political dissidents. I asked Jiang to release some dissidents and told him that in order for the United States and China to have a long-term partnership, our relationship had to have room for fair, honest disagreement.
When Jiang said he agreed, we proceeded to debate how much change and freedom China could accommodate without risking internal chaos. We didnt resolve our differences, but our mutual understanding increased, and after Jiang went back to Blair House, I went to bed thinking that China would be forced by the imperatives of modern society to become more open, and that in the new century it was more likely that our nations would be partners than adversaries.
The next day at our press conference, Jiang and I announced that we would increase our cooperation to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction; work together on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and on fighting organized crime, drug trafficking, and alien smuggling; expand Americas efforts to promote the rule of law in China by helping to train judges and lawyers; and cooperate to protect the environment. I also pledged to do all I could to bring China into the World Trade Organization. Jiang echoed my remarks and told the press we had also agreed to regular summit meetings and the opening of a direct telephone hot-line to assure that we could maintain direct communication.
When we opened the floor to questions, the press asked the inevitable ones about human rights, Tiananmen Square, and Tibet. Jiang seemed a little taken aback but maintained his good humor, essentially repeating what he had said to me on the subjects the night before, and adding that he knew he was visiting a democracy where the people were free to voice their different opinions. I replied that while China was on the right side of history on so many issues, on the human rights issue we believe the policy of the government is on the wrong side of history. A couple of days later, in a speech at Harvard, President Jiang acknowledged that mistakes had been made in dealing with the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. China often moved at a pace that seemed maddeningly slow to Westerners, but it was not impervious to change.
October brought two developments on the legal front. After Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed with prejudice (meaning they could not be refiled) two of the four counts in Paula Joness lawsuit, I offered to settle it. I didnt want to, because it would take about half of everything Hillary and I had saved over twenty years, and because I knew, on the basis of the investigative work my legal team had done, that we would win the case if it ever went to trial. But I didnt want to waste any days in the three years I had left on it.
Jones refused to accept the settlement unless I also apologized for sexually harassing her. I couldnt do that because it wasnt true. Not long afterward, her lawyers petitioned the court to be released of their duties. Soon they were replaced by a Dallas firm closely associated with and funded by the Rutherford Institute, another right-wing legal foundation financed by my opponents. Now there was no longer even a pretense that Paula Jones was the real plaintiff in the case that bore her name.
Early in the month, the White House turned over videotapes of forty-four of the much-discussed White House coffees to the Justice Department and the Congress. They proved what Id said all along, that the coffees were not fund-raisers, but wide-ranging and often interesting discussions with some people who were supporters and some who werent. The only thing most of the critics could do was to complain that they werent released sooner.
Soon after that, Newt Gingrich announced that he didnt have the votes to pass the fast-track trade legislation in the House. I had worked very hard for months to pass it. In an attempt to get more votes from my party, I had pledged to Democrats that I would negotiate trade agreements with labor and environmental provisions, and told them that I had secured Chiles agreement to put such requirements into the bilateral agreement we were working on. Unfortunately, I couldnt persuade very many of them, because the AFL-CIO, which was still angry about losing the NAFTA vote, had made the fast-track vote a test of whether Democrats were for or against labor. Even Democrats who agreed with me on the merits were reluctant to face a reelection campaign without the AFL-CIOs financial and organizational support. Several conservative Republicans conditioned their vote on whether or not I would impose further restrictions on U.S. policy for international family planning. When I wouldnt do it, I lost their votes. The Speaker had also worked to pass the bill, but at the end we were still six votes short at best. Now I would just have to continue making individual trade agreements and hope that Congress wouldnt kill them with amendments.
In mid-month we had a new crisis in Iraq, when Saddam expelled six American members of the UN weapons inspection teams. I ordered the USS George Washington carrier group to the region, and a few days later the inspectors returned.
The Kyoto global warming talks opened on December 1. Before they were over, Al Gore flew to Japan to help our chief negotiator, Undersecretary of State Stu Eizenstat, get an agreement we could sign, with firm targets but without undue restrictions on how to achieve them and with a call for developing countries like China and India to participate; within thirty years they would surpass the United States as emitters of greenhouse gases (the United States is now the worlds leading emitter). Unless the changes were made, I couldnt submit the treaty to Congress; it would be difficult to pass in the best of circumstances. With the support of Prime Minister Hashimoto, who wanted Kyoto to be a success for Japan, and other friendly nations including Argentina, the negotiations produced an agreement I was happy to support, with targets I thought we could meet, if Congress would enact the tax incentives necessary to promote the production and purchase of more conservation technologies and clean energy products.
In the days before Christmas, Hillary, Chelsea, and I went to Bosnia to encourage the people in Sarajevo to stay on the path of peace and to meet with the troops in Tuzla. Bob and Elizabeth Dole joined our delegation, along with several military leaders and a dozen members of Congress of both parties. Elizabeth was the president of the American Red Cross, and Bob had just agreed to my request to head the International Commission on Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia.
On the day before Christmas the United States agreed to put up $1.7 billion to provide financial support to the faltering South Korean economy. It marked the beginning of our commitment to solving the Asian financial crisis, which would grow much worse in the coming year. South Korea had just elected a new president, Kim Dae Jung, a longtime democracy activist who had been sentenced to execution in the 1970s until President Carter intervened on his behalf. I had first met Kim on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall in May 1992, when he proudly told me he represented the same new approach to politics that I did. He was both brave and visionary, and I wanted to support him.
As we headed to Renaissance Weekend and a new year, I looked back on 1997 with satisfaction, hoping the worst of the partisan wars had passed in the wake of all that had been accomplished: the balanced budget; the largest increase in college aid in fifty years; the biggest increase in childrens health coverage since 1965; the expansion of NATO; the Chemical Weapons Convention; the Kyoto accord; sweeping reforms of our adoption laws and of our Food and Drug Administration to speed the introduction of lifesaving medicines and medical devices; and the One America initiative, which had already involved millions of people in conversations about the current state of race relations. It was an impressive list, but it would not be enough to bridge the ideological divide.