THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary (Boston, Massachusetts) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release January 18, 2000
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT DNC DINNER Private Residence Boston, Massachusetts
7:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Let me say, I am delighted, first of all, to be back here in the Solomonts' home. I love this place, and it's obviously a place with a loving family, and I feel very good that they let us come in. I thank Steve and Barbara Grossman for their work for our party, and for their help in this event tonight, and all of you for being here.
I want to join Mayor Rendell in thanking you, Mayor Menino. We had a great day in Boston today, had a great anti-crime event. And Senator Menard, thank you. And I'd like to also thank our DNC treasurer, Andy Tobias, my longtime friend, for being here. And thank you, Brian Hardwick, and thank you, Fran Katz.
We're going to have a chance to visit later on. I just want to make a few points. First of all, the kids were fabulous, the singers. I loved that. (Applause.) I'm something of a music lover, and they sang that wonderful old Jim Croce song -- those of you who are about my age, maybe a little younger -- it's all the more wistful because he did die young. And there's that great line in that song: "there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them." It's something that the older you get, the more sober it makes you to hear that line.
And I guess if I could say anything to you tonight that you haven't heard, is that we do have time to do what we want to do, as a country and as a people, to a degree virtually unheard of in our history. And we need, in this election and in this year, to continue to find the right things, and to find the strength and the vision and the will to do them.
I am profoundly grateful to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts. They have been very good to me and to Hillary, and to Al and Tipper Gore. And indeed, all of New England has been very good to -- we have carried all the states in New England in both elections. And that is something for which I am very grateful. And I am quite mindful of the fact that the energy and the drive for that came in no small measure out of Massachusetts and out of the uncommon kindness of the Democrats in New Hampshire and staying with me against all the odds on more than one occasion.
But what I want you to think about is this. A lot of you mentioned to me the wonderful 100-year-old woman who came to the White House on Saturday to the Radio Address. I love that lady because she was on television -- she continually referred to me as a young man. (Laughter.) And I just love that. (Laughter.) And we got in a great discussion about older people and Willard Scott asked me if I had anybody in my family who lived to be 100; I said, no, but I had a very close uncle who died at 91 a couple years ago who helped to raise me.
And I told the story about how, when he was 86 he used to, once a week, take a 92-year-old woman for a drive and once a week take a 95-year-old woman for a drive. He was describing this to me, and I said, well, Uncle Buddy, you like those older women, don't you? He said, yeah, I do; seems like they're a little more settled. (Laughter.)
So, anyway, it's all a matter of your perspective whether you're young or not. And as I've gotten older, I've learned that the definition of young is anybody that's a day younger than I am. But I've lived a fair number of years now, and there has never been a time in my lifetime when our country has had at once this level of economic prosperity, social progress, self-confidence, without overwhelming internal crisis or external threat. Therefore, I would argue to you that we have an unparalleled opportunity to do the things we want to do, and that every year, it's about defining them, finding them and dreaming them.
The second thing I want to say is that -- Alan talked about all the tough times when we've been here. The great British essayist, Samuel Johnson, said that "Nothing so concentrates a man's mind as the prospect of his own destruction." And many times, when the Democratic Party's been under the gun, when the administration's been under the gun, people marveled at how well we did. Well, what option did we have? If we wanted to show up for work every day for the American people, we just had to concentrate, take a deep breath and keep on working.
I have found that sometimes, people are most vulnerable to making errors when they think things are going along so well they don't have to think about them. And this is not just -- this is true of people -- everybody here who is over 30 in this room -- certainly everybody over 30 -- everybody who can think of at least one instance in your own life, when in your personal life, your family life or your business life, something went wrong because you thought things were going so well you didn't have to think about it anymore.
So I would say to you that the thing that I am seized with here in this final year of my presidency is keeping the attention of the American people on the future and making people understand that this is an enormous opportunity, and accordingly a profound responsibility, to define the dreams that we have for the 21st century, and then to come up with a strategy toward achieving them.
For me, it means finishing the unfinished business of the last year, the patients bill of rights, the hate crimes legislation, the prescription medicine for people on Medicare, gun legislation. It means an aggressive agenda, which you will hear more about in the State of the Union, for the last year that I will be your President. But it also means defining those big, long-term goals that can't be achieved in a year that we have to move toward.
And I believe that elections are always about the future. And I believe we have -- I have always believed, as anybody who's had any conversation with me about this -- I have always believed we would do fine this year if we were proud of our record, explained how it was part of a coherent philosophy that was driving us into the future; but most importantly, articulated a vision that America could buy into for tomorrow -- and that we then had to be competitive, in terms of communicating our message. And that's what you've helped us to do.
So, we'll have more to say about this as the night goes on, but I think it would be helpful -- you all know what I think the big challenges of the future are. I think we have to make the most of the revolutions in science and technology, especially in biotech and telecommunications, in materials development and environmental technologies.
I think we have to embrace, not run away from, globalization, but put a more human face on it so that everybody has a chance to feel they're treated fairly and has a chance to win. I think we have to give every child in this country a 21st century education, something we've never really done in our whole history -- giving every child whatever the globally excellent education was at the moment; and that we've got to deal with the aging of America. We've got to decide what we're going to do with Social Security and Medicare, and how we're going to prepare for this explosion in the number of people over 65 doubling in the next 30 years; most of us who are here hope to be among them.
We have to decide what our responsibilities are in an increasingly interdependent world to deal with the global challenges we have. And I think most important of all, as I have repeatedly said since the day I got here, we have to decide whether we really believe we're all in this together, and we have to keep expanding the real family of America.
We have to -- that's why I'm so strongly in favor of the hate crimes legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, continuing to work toward reconciling the differences that rend America and the world apart day in and day out. Every day now, it seems like I'm spending more and more time trying to reactivate the Middle East peace process. But in a calm setting like this, and you see all those children up there singing tonight, it's self-evident to all of us that we have more in common than whatever it is that divides us.
And somehow, if I could leave one gift to America, I would leave us the ability -- if I could just wave a magic wand, instead of getting up and going to work in the White House every day -- I would leave us the ability to remember that, every hour of every day, in everything we do, because we waste so much energy, and we get ourselves in so much trouble in this old world, just trying to pull ourselves up by putting other people down. And I am convinced that the only way we can make the most of all the modern wonders of tomorrow is to learn this most ancient of lessons.
So those are my big ideas for the 21st century. But the Democratic Party has been reformed, re-energized and reborn in the last seven years, in a way that is entirely consistent with our history and our values. And we can be really proud of the role we've played in the economic revitalization of America, and the declining crime rate and welfare rolls, and the fact that 90 percent of our children are immunized against serious diseases for the first time, and all the progress that has been made.
But every election is about tomorrow. And I believe, with all my heart, if we make time to do the things we should do, we will do fine in the year 2000. The only thing that can keep us from ratifying this important direction the country has taken in the last seven years is if either we don't care enough to exert the effort to fight, and to finance, our side of the argument, or we don't care enough to articulate the choices so that it's clear what the election is about.
And all I can say is, if everybody in the country who thinks the way we do were as committed as you are, then I wouldn't even worry about that.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 7:30 P.M. EST