THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 3, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION DINNER The Washington Hilton Washington, DC
THE PRESIDENT: What can I say after that routine. I was thinking -- you know, I'm so impatient all the time. And everybody attacks me for working too hard. You all have griped for 10 years about nothing getting done here. Now, you're griping that I'm working too hard. Mary McGrory writes a piece in the Post, says I ought to go to sleep more. (Laughter.) Two guys from the Post get an award up here tonight. I shake hands with them like everybody else; everybody else is really polite. The two guys from the Post, you know what they said? Get some rest. (Laughter.)
Well, I'm either going to have to get some rest or the Senate's going to have to act more like Elayne. I mean, look at that hair -- now you know why she's got all that energy, she got her hand stuck in a light socket before she came over here tonight. (Laughter.)
I want to complain about something -- this is my night -- you all complain to me all the time. I watched CNN the other night, one of these 100 day stories. And I couldn't believe it. There were Andrea Mitchell, Susan Spencer, Brit Hume, and Wolf Blitzer on Larry King Live. Imagine that, going around the President to take their message directly to the American people. (Applause.) I was really offended. (Laughter.)
I'll tell you something else. You all never let me get away with hypocrisy. If I do the slightest thing different from what I said in the campaign, I hear about it for months and months. You know, Benjamin Franklin once said that our critics are our friends, for they show us our faults. But look what I've been criticized for. I was criticized for fierce partisanship by Pat Buchanan. (Laughter.) I was called an effete intellectual by George Will. (Laughter.) Mean spirited by Bob Novak. (Laughter.) Wavering and indecisive by Morton Kondracke. (Laughter.) I was accused of pursuing failed economic policies on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. (Laughter.) That great bastion of conservatism took us from a $1 trillion to a $4 trillion debt in only 12 years. NBC takes exception to the way the White House stages media events. (Laughter and applause.) And I've been accused of talking too much by both Andrea Mitchell and Brit Hume at the same time. (Laughter.)
And I've been called too fat by Rush Limbaugh. (Laughter.) Did you like the way Rush took up for Janet Reno the other night on his program? He only did it because she was attacked by a black guy. He's here, isn't he?
I've been wondering about these grades on a hundred days. You can't imagine how disappointed I am by that -- this whole grade thing -- because my mother still keeps all those report cards on her refrigerator. (Laughter.) And I knew you give Hillary higher marks than me. It's just like law school all over again. (Laughter and applause.)
You know, you hold me to impossible standards. One of you wrote a column the other day comparing this to Genesis in saying that God got more done in six days than I did in a hundred. (Laughter.) I'd just like to point out that his efforts were not preceded by 12 days from another administration. (Laughter and applause.)
I am not doing so bad. I mean, at this point in his administration, William Henry Harrison had been dead 68 days. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, my stimulus package lived longer than that. (Laughter.)
And I've kept all my major campaign promises. I said I'd make my White House staff 25 percent smaller. I mean, compare Marlin Fitzwater and George Stephanopoulos. (Laughter.)
There's a lot of heartbreak associated with this job. When I first took this job, I dreamed that in a hundred days, I'd pick up the newspaper and I'd read about a populous President who had broken the gridlock and gotten popular approval for a dramatic economic program and enjoyed the support of his people; and I did, and I resent the hell out of Boris Yeltsin. (Laughter.)
I've got a lot to learn. I was so worried, Hillary and I were, about bringing our daughter to Washington and all the influences that might affect her. And just since she's been here, she's told me she no longer believes in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus or even the Tooth Fairy; and I was afraid it was that new school she was going to. And so I had this serious talk with her. And I said, did you learn all this at your school? And she said, no, I just had a long talk with Leon Panetta. (Laughter and applause.) Look at old Leon. (Laughter.)
You know, Leon's a good Catholic, and he just can't keep it straight when he's supposed to go to confession. (Laughter.) And that one of the differences between church and state is that the priest doesn't take notes, at least every -- (laughter) -- at least every Catholic in my administration hopes that's true. (Laughter.) I heard all these jokes about the filibuster. Who would have thought it 10 years ago that in 1993 we'd see majority rule in Russia and minority rule in the United States Congress. (Laughter and applause.) I mean, who would have thought it?
I do want to apologize to Senator Dole about one thing, seriously. We had this huge fight in the Congress on this jobs program, and the core of the Republican attack in the Senate was the community development block grant program, which was really a Republican idea that I liked, because it gave governors and mayors a chance to create jobs. And for 12 years, I used it to put our people to work. And Senator Dole and all those Republicans said, you just don't understand, this thing's full of pork. It's a dad-gummed scandal. I was appalled. And then I read yesterday in The Wall Street Journal about a senator from Kansas who asked for $23 million of that money to convert a senior citizens center to a boat house in Kansas. And he was right after all, and I apologize to Senator Dole. (Laughter and applause.) I think it's pretty funny. You were appalled, weren't you? See, they were right.
I do want to thank you for one thing -- for helping my communications staff get off to a good start. (Laughter.) Dee Dee hasn't put her boot in her mouth. George hasn't had a close shave yet. They're making it fine.
I want to say one thing, too, seriously. I have very much enjoyed even the tough times, because I learned a long time ago that if you really want to make an omelette, you've got to break eggs. And if you really believe in change, you have to be willing to accept the fact that when human nature is involved, there is a lot of unevenness.
When the King and Queen of Spain were here to see us last week, one of his ministers was there, and he said, you know, Mr. President, I spent six years in your country becoming educated. And I said, what did you study? He said, physics. I'm a physicist by training. And I said, what's harder, physics or politics? He said, it's not even close -- politics, because people are involved.
And sometimes I think we forget that we're all people. We're all trying to do our jobs as best we can. It is your job to report on what we do, to analyze it, to probe it, to criticize it, to lift it up to the light and turn it around and show all of its facets to the American people. I think it's my job to try to do something besides just enjoy the honor of being the President of the United States. And in the interplay of our efforts, sometimes I will misstep. Sometimes you will, too. But the Constitution provides for you a freedom that is virtually without limit, because the framers recognize that without it, people like me who get power with the best of motives would inevitably abuse it.
And so, in the tension and back and forth, we try to push our country forward. I confess that sometimes I get impatient with the pace of change. I've been that way ever since I was a little boy. But I believe this: I believe we have begun to change this country for the better. People no longer ask whether we're going to reduce the deficit, they ask how much and how fast. People no longer ask whether we're going to do something about health care, they say, exactly what, and how much will it cost. People no longer ask whether we're going to have a partnership with the government and the private sector now, they say, what will the shape of it be. They no longer even ask about whether we're going to try to make government different; they just say, will you do it right, will it matter this time. I think those are important changes. (Applause.)
And I appreciate my Louisiana mentor, Mr. Carville out there, has a lot of sayings. One of the things that he said to me tonight again that he's said before is, if you never want to stumble, stand still. So you tell them when I stumble, but always tell them I'm not standing still. (Applause.)
And I will tell you -- I will tell you from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the fact that you're as dedicated to the Constitution and your duty as I am to mine, and that I know very well how hard this job is. And if I can possibly do it, I'm going to get more sleep in the next 100 days.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all. (Applause.)