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tv   Bill Clinton on Public Service  CSPAN  September 1, 2015 1:00pm-2:29pm EDT

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with most have said. our congressmen have really let us down. one thing i dwaer from these recessions is most of these people have not been following congress for the last seven years. i'm talking about when they're in session, trying to present a bill, even when it's in the best interest of us all. keep in mind harry reid, as hundreds and hundreds and hundreds feel that the republican party in the house did pass, he refused to bring them up for a vote. whether it's law or not, i consider this obstruction of justice because this goes against everything the people want. let it stand alone. let it be voted on. rise or fall, let it be voted on. but don't blame one house or the other, don't blame republicans or democrats if one is refusing.
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let it be voted on. now,ly qualify, i am a registered republican. i have been registered as an independent. i have voted for two democratic presidents. but we must all remember, we are americans first, party last. have a good day. >> from randall, washington, d.c., is up next. hello. >> caller: hello? >> you're on. >> caller: randall in d.c.? >> yes, you're on. >> caller: okay. i simply want to say people are forgetting, they voted for gridlock, the republicans did. they voted republicans in twice. they initially voted them into the house so they would -- they botched the republic argument about all the power rested in one party. so, to counter obama, and i'm sure a little of it had some race factor in it, they voted in
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gridlock. nothing is said about it because they thought the republicans would do even more when they voted them into the senate. and, like i said, the other factor is race. people -- working class people who are democrats, republicans, black or white, should all be working together against -- class warfare is going on. and it's simply the facts bear it out that the working class people are doing worse and the rich are doing better and congress passed laws that made it so expensive -- reagan opened up china. i mean, not reagan. nixon. reagan was working on south america. that's why all the jobs ended up moving down there and a few started coming here as well because they do stabilize those places in south america and
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they're still -- >> got you, randall. only because we're out of time. that's it for the program today. another edition of the program comes your way at 7:00 tomorrow morning. we'll see you then. come up in about an hour, the center for strategic center and international studies is coming up. panelists will talk about the impact of russia's contribution to china's surface warfare capabilities. live coverage gets under way at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. coming up later today, we'll bring you a hearing looking at how federal policies can improve higher education. academic officials from colleges and nonprofit education groups outline recommendation for improving graduation rates and academic performance, specifically for low income students. the senate is currently in the process of reauthorizing the higher education act. that expired at the end of 2013.
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it gets under way at 3:00 p.m. eastern today on our companion network c-span. afterwards we'll open the phone lines to get your take. it starts at 4:0030. former president bill clinton spoke about the importance of a life in public service. the 42nd president's remarks took place at georgetown university. part of what's called the clinton lectures. president clinton graduated from the university's foreign service school in 1968. well, good morning. it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome all of you to gaston hall for this, in the third of the clinton lectures at georgetown. i wish to thank all of you for being here and to offer a special word of welcome to our distinguished guests in attendance, including the honorable tom vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, and congressman john delaney. we're honored to have you with us this morning.
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we've had the privilege over the course of the past few decades to welcome president clinton back to georgetown on a number of occasions. notably, for a series of lectures in 1991 while he was the governor of arkansas and democratic candidate for president. on the steps of old north for an address to the diplomatic corps in 1993 just days before his inauguration. and now, for this series. in his first lecture of this series president clinton spoke about the significance of those 1991 lectures. now known as the new covenant speeches on responsibility and rebuilding the american community, economic change and american security, not only to his campaign but also for his vision for our future. he explained that these lectures enabled him to "think about
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where we were, where we wanted to go, and how we proposed to get there." we've come together today and on two other occasions this series to engage wisdom and insights of one of the most accomplished global leaders of our time and to hear his perspective gained from a lifetime of service to our nation. as president he presided over the longest economic expansion in american history including the creation of more than 22 million jobs, the reform of the welfare and health care systems, new environmental regulations, peacekeeping missions in places such as bosnia, and a federal budget surplus. in the years since his two-term presidency, the first for a democrat since president franklin delano roosevelt, he has focused his efforts on improving global health, education and economic development around the world through the bill, hillary and chelsea clinton foundation which
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he founded in 1991. a 1968 alumnus of our school of foreign service, a rhodes scholar, a yale law graduate, attorney general, then governor of arkansas. father otto hence, long-time and beloved member of our theology department who taught president clinton during his first year here at georgetown has described him as someone who "thinks deeply." he explains, "speaking of president clinton, when people are well informed and deeply reflective, that gives them a security and freedom to listen to a wide spectrum of opinions. clinton is not a man who is closed in his thinking because he thinks deeply. it's only fitting that for this lecture on the theme of purpose, father hence will serve as our moderator during the question
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and answer session that will follow president clinton's remarks. with this theme purpose, president clinton turns to each of us as he did during those formative new covenant speeches, to speak to all of you -- future leaders of our nation -- to think deeply about our own responsibilities, about where we are, where we want to go and how we propose together to get there. he asked from his 2013 lecture here how do we live in a world where service is important. today we come together to try to understand our purpose and our responsibilities, our service to the common good and to each other. ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to welcome to the stage the 42nd president of the united states, and a true son of georgetown, president bill
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clinton. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. thank you. thank you, president degioia, for having me back. thank you, father hentz, for agreeing to ask me questions. i'll give better answers than i did 50 years ago. i hope. thank you all for coming. students, faculty, friends of georgetown, secretary vilsack, thank you very much for being
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here and your long tenure. congressman delaney who is a shining hope for the possibility of bipartisan cooperation. he's got a bill to repatriate all this loose cash that's hanging around overseas that has as many republican as democratic sponsors, i think. some people think there's something wrong with that. i think that's pretty good idea. so i thank him for that. i want to thank my classmates an friends who are here. get the show on the road. two years ago i came here, in april, intending to give a series of three or four lectures on composing a life in public service. whether that's in an elected or appointed office, or in the private sector or working for a non-governmental organization. in the first talk i said there
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are four essential elements to any successful service. a focus on people, policy, politics and purpose. in that first lecture i was primarily focused on the necessity of understanding how different people view themselves and the world they're living in. without understanding people, it's pretty hard to develop the best policies and to build and maintain support for them. as i said then, i grew up in a story telling culture, so i told you stories about people who taught me that everybody has a story and kept me focused on how to help other people have better stories. i told you stories about my family and my teachers, beginning in junior high and running through georgetown,
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about people i'd worked with over the years and people i'd met who were dealing with their own life struggles. the second lecture covered policy making and the compromises that are almost always involved when trying to do what is called in machiavellian terms, to do the most difficult thing in all of affairs, to change the established order things. we discussed how policymaking was done when i was president in developing economic plan in 1993 which reversed 12 years of trickle-down economics and gave us the only period in 50 years when all sectors of the american economy grew robustly and the bottom 20%'s income rose 23.6%, the same as the top 5%. we talked about crafting the welfare reform bill in 1996.
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what compromised were acceptable, what wasn't, what's worked over the long run, what still needs to be changed. and we talked about the pursuit of peace in the middle east. i hope that talk convinced you that policy actually matters, that ideas, when implemented, have consequences, and different ideas have different consequences. a great deal of political rhetoric is devoted to blurring that, to pretending that if something good happens and the other guy did it, it was an accident, and if something bad happens and you did it, well, it couldn't have been because you pursued the wrong policy. and because so much of our voting habits today are determined by the culture in which we live, and the conditions in which we experience the world, we tend to blur all that.
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so i hope i convinced you that whenever you're trying to evaluate policy, you should try to ask yourself, is there a difference between the story and the story line. always look for the story. sometimes it is in the story line, and sometimes it is not. there is a difference between the headlines and the trend lines. typically for perfectly understandable reasons, bad news makes better news than good news. but sometimes the trend lines are much better than the headlines. so -- and we may have occasion to revisit that. today i want to talk about the purpose of public service driven by a concern for people manifest in policies one is advocating and about the politics of turning concern and good policy into real changes that fulfill
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your purpose. for obvious reasons i don't intend to talk much about electoral politics. but it's important to remember, as secretary vilsack and congressman delaney can tell you, there is plenty of politics when the election is over in trying to implement policy. and there is plenty of politics if you are a he not in an elected office. if you're working in a private business, or you're working for an ngo. that's the kind of politics i want to talk about. how do you have the skills to actually turn your ideas into action. in every public service success, leadership requires a vision of a better future where the purpose of public service is made plain in the circumstances of the moment. a clear, understandable plan to realize that vision and the
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ability to actually implement the changes. if at all possible, by the inclusion of all the stakeholders in the process, this is becoming more important than ever before. in an interdependent world, whether we like it or not, inclusive politics is necessary to have inclusive economics. inclusive discussion with various stakeholders is necessary to affect social change. india has three very vigorous leaders at the moment. president of china, president xi, who's trying to grow chinese economy internally more by resuming population growth by modifying the one-child policy and trying to eliminate some of the corruption that has been endemic to the system, and prime minister abe of japan, who is
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trying to overcome his own country's reluctance to alter their culture by allowing widespread immigration by putting more women into the workforce and enabling people to work longer. and prime minister modi of india who biggest problem is it's grown like crazy for the last 20 years in and around its tech prosperity centers but only 35% of the people are being reached by that effort. and that india needs the ability to integrate and employ capital so that 100% of the people of india can have a chance to benefit from the enterprise that's now driving dramatic prosperity for just 35% of them. so this inclusion issue is going to become bigger and bigger and bigger in the lifetime of the
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students who are here. but let me try to illustrate the success of leadership and the pitfalls with a few recent examples. recent in my terms, not the students' terms. helmut cole was the chancellor of germany. he had the experience of living through a world war ii of having a united, peaceful, prosperous germany in the united, peaceful, democratic europe. most of these developments may seem normal to you, they were virtually unimaginable for most of european history in which
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germany was not a separate country but a collection of city states, then united under bismarck. cole became the second-longest serving german chancellor in german history in the pursuit of his vision second only to bismarck. and he had a strategy which he pursued with extraordinary discipline. it was first to unite germany after the wall came down, which required very large transfers of money from west germany to east germany to begin the long process of equalizing the economic opportunities on both sides of the former divide. second, to expand and strengthen the european union. he wanted all of central and eastern europe to come into the eu so that germany would be in the middle of europe, not on the edge where it had been a source of instability and conflict
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throughout the 20th century. third, he wanted to expand nato and strengthen the transatlantic ties to the united states because he thought that was important to building a prosperous democratic future for germans and for the rest of europe. and fourth, often forgotten, he became the most vigorous supporters of russia after the end of communism. its economic recovery, its democracy building, and its increasing cooperation with the eu and the u.s. it's hard to believe given today's headlines, but that was the order we were all trying to build then in the 1990s, and it worked for quite a while. in the beginning it worked very well. but there were two central problems with implementing cole's vision after he left
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office. one is that much of the european union, although not every member, adopted the euro as a currency. they had a eurozone currency, which was adopted before those in the eurozone had a common economic policy, a common social policy and a common public investment policy. which meant it worked great when europe was growing well. and greeks could borrow money at german interest rates essentially. but when the economy turned down, it no longer worked very well. partly because the german voters didn't understand how much game they had gotten out of all those good years when greece and spain and portugal and italy got to borrow money at common interest rates and buy german exports. and germany is, by the way, still the number one rich country in the world and the
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percentage of its gdp tied to exports and tied to manufacturing. in no small measure but a good lesson for united states because of its dramatic success in involving small and middle size businesses in the export market, having a continuous lifetime training program, and having a program that pays employers to keep people working instead of paying unemployed employees unemployment benefits. so it worked fine. but when greece failed, and ireland failed, and spain had skyrocketing unemployment, all for slightly different reasons, although basically it was just a real estate boom going bust in ireland and spain. and portugal and italy had their own troubles. the automatic response of the eu
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was to try to impose austerity on greece because they had governments that had for years made promises to people they couldn't keep. and because they had a country in which rich people didn't pay taxes. in fact, constitutionally the shipping companies are exempted from taxes. something very many -- a lot of people don't know. so that if you were a cab driver in athens or a fishermen in the aegean, you'd feel like a chump if you did pay your taxes. but greece began a program of austerity in 2009. when they started their public debt was 120% of gdp. today they made all these payments and their public debt's about 180% of gdp. which means that the fundamental laws of economics have not been repealed. if inflation is lower than interest rates, there's insufficient demand and more
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austerity will get you in a deeper hole, not get you out of it. so that happened. and there was no provision made at the creation of the eurozone for how to get out without collapsing the hole our without spooking the markets. and that was probably an error. if they weren't prepared to have common economic and social policy and some sort of investment, they should have made an exit strategy part of the beginning. then the market hazards wouldn't have been so great. the typical thing for a little country the trouble of greece is to the value, take all the hard benefit and start growing again. what's what iceland did which is not in the eurozone. iceland was a particular tragedy. its bank were far more leveraged than american banks but they also had more self-made millionaires with be mostly in tech and retail businesses, than any other -- as a percentage of
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their population than any other european country. so they devalued and started building again and got out of this mess they were in this a hurry. so that doesn't mean that cole's european idea was wrong. it doesn't -- and the eu and the strengthening of it. and for many older europeans, even the boring and bureaucratic nature of the cumbersome machinery in brussels of the eu is a godsend. far better than uncertainty and war. and endless intrigue with destructive consequences. the other thing that happen to cole's vision of course is that russia took a more unilateral and authoritarian term as manifest most vividly in what happened in ukraine and what continues to happen there. but, on balance, you would have to say he was the most important
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european leader since world war ii because of the good things that happen and the bad things that didn't happened. and i still believe over the long run we will return to the path that he advocated for so long. second example. the founding prime minister of singapore recently passed away at 91. i was asked, along with henry kissinger, so i went. when lee took office more than 60 years ago in 1962 he was the leader of a small city state of a few million people with a per capita income of $100,000 a year. it had recently broken off from malaysia and there was a lot of
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uncertainty about two things. one was whether this little city state that was heavily chinese and malay minority and smaller indian minority and filipinos and others in its diverse state could ever make a go of it. and two, whether a state that small could withstand the debilitating consequences of the corruption which was an endemic to most of the asian rising countries. lee had a strategy. he wanted first his vision was to have a prosperous, unified, secure nation. and he knew that singapore had the most important thing of all at the time he came of age -- location. it was located at a critical
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juncture for all the major sea lanes in asia who knew the asian economy was going to boom and he wanted to be there. so his strategy was, first to govern singapore on terms of equal treatment for all its citizens without regard to their ethnic background. there were ten speakers at his funeral. his son the prime minister spoke first about his leadership. his son, his second son, spoke last about what a good father he was. in the middle there were representatives of every ethnic group in singapore who talked about how he had made a home for them. inclusion. he also was so rigorous in the pursuit of corruption from cabinet ministers to minor
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functionaries overcharging people for fines, that he allowed people who were part of his own political movement to go to prison. but he got rid of corruption. singapore soon gained a reputation as a place to invest, a place where people wanted to be, where everything was on the up and up. things were on the level. it made a huge difference. the third thing he wanted to do was to have an alliance with the united states for security purposes. but to get along with everybody in the neighborhood. which he proceeded to do. and finally, he launched a constant organized effort to modernize the country, educationally, economically, and to maintain social cohesion with methods most of us in the united states often thought were pretty severe, including caning maldoers.
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but it worked. i remember once there was a lot of joking in the press about the fact that singapore banned chewing gum. they got mad because kids were leaving chewing gum under desks and under seats on public transportation and things like that. but they got rid of the problem. they built, by common consensus, one of the five best education systems in the world. a few years ago a small country with only six-plus-million people allocated $3 billion to biotechnology research. same amount of your money i spent to sequence the human genome. so did it succeed? when he took office the per capita income was under $1,000. when we celebrated his life at
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his memorial service, singapore's per capita income was $55,000. one of the most remarkable economic success stories ever. ernesto saddillo became sort of an accidental president of mexico. person his party favored for their presidency was killed early in the campaign season and he was picked to succeed him. but he was a very well trained economist and he wanted to build a modern economy for mexico and a modern political nation. that was his vision. so he set about building a modern economy by opening mexico to competition an investment and promoting responsible more honest behavior. early in this effort through no fault of his own, they had a horrible economic crisis. they were about to go broke and
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the united states stepped in. i was president. it was 20 years ago. we stepped in and gave him a loan, which on the day i gave it was opposed by something like 80% of the american people who thought about mexico's yesterdays instead of his tomorrows. sadillo repaid that loans five years early with $500 million in interest. it was one of the best investments we ever made. we still have disagreements with mexico but think about your own life. it is one thing to have a disagreement with a friend and another to have a disagreement with an adversary and the consequences are dramatically different. maybe more important, he recognized that his country could never fully become modern unless it was more politically competitive and his party, the pri, had enjoyed a monopoly on power for 70 years. he opened the field to competition and had an honest election.
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it was won by vicente fox, and he handed over power peacefully for the first time in seven decades to a member of the opposite party. mexico's not free of problems but it is worth noting that one of his successors built 140 tuition-free universities and last year they graduated more than 100,000 engineers. and that the economic growth was significant to keep mexicans home. between 2010 and 2014, for the first time in my lifetime there was no net in migration from mexico. nelson mandela's vision was to build a modern democratic state that would survive and thrive after the end of apartheid and the end of his term.
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his strategy included -- his now famous reconciliation commission where people who had committed crimes, even murderous crimes during the apartheid era could come and testify, make their actions a part of the public record, and then be reconciled to the rest of the country so they could participate in the future. it was an astonishing thing. he said we don't have time to build any more jails and worry about this. we got to go forward. something that was copied largely in a different -- slightly different forum through local community courts in rwanda after the rwanda genocide and a capacity that's beyond the culture of many other countries. interestingly enough, we are now seeing the ongoing efforts of the president of colombia, president santos, to resolve the last remaining conflicts there
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with the farc and the big hang-up is who's going to be held responsible for what. and this is something we all have to deal with in our lives and we have to deal with in other cultures. but accountability is important, but so is going beyond. and different people, different cultures draw the balance in different ways. there's no doubt in my mind that mandela did the right thing for south africa. the second thing he did, which is arguably just as important, was practice the politics of radical inclusion. that to most of you was symbolized when he invited his jailers to his inauguration. but far more important was that he put the leaders of the parties that supported
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apartheid in his cabinet. you think that happens all the time. mandela ran for president with 18 opponents and got 63% of the vote. the first time black south africans had voted in 300 years. and his whole term occurred when i was president. so we had a lot -- we did a lot of business together. and i always let him call me late at night because of the time difference. he liked to go to bed early and he knew i'd stay up late so he'd call me late at night. so he called me one night and he said, oh, they're giving me hell. and i said, who? the -- i'm always kidding about the afrikaners and the history. he said, oh, my, my own people. i said what are you saying? they are saying, how can you put
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these people in the government? you won 63% of the vote. they kept you in prison, they were shooting us, killing a bunch of us. now you're going to give them government ministries? and i said, what did you tell them? he said, i said, well, you know, we just voted for the first time in 300 years, so let me ask you, can we run the financial system all by ourselves? can we run the military all by ourselves? can we run the police all by ourselves? is there one thing in this whole country we can run all by ourselves? the answer is no. maybe some day. this is not that day. he said, if i can get over it, so can you. we're going to do this together. you'd be surprised somebody gave a speech like that in washington, wouldn't you? but it is important to recognize and not to be too sanctimonious here, mandela had paid a
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remarkable price and learned astonishing lessons. and he had the stature to do that and not fall. there was a third now often overlooked part of his strategy which is why that hasn't worked out yet. ep named as his deputy president a much younger man, tabu mbeki who is the most gifted economist in south africa because he knew two take his entire term and he was determined to only serve one term. he was well into his 70s and he paid a very stiff physical price for the first years of his imprisonment. so the other part of his strategy was to be succeeded by him so he could build a better economic state and increase trade and investment across africa in a way that would stabilize south africa. that part of the plan didn't
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work. for reasons beyond his control. south africa first became the epicenter of the world aids crisis. and was made worse by the troubles in zimbabwe and other places which led to even more people coming into south africa who were hiv positive. meanwhile, and still to me somewhat mystifying, mbeki denied for a long time the dimensions, cause and remedies of crisis. i knew this because our foundation helped them to come up with an aids plan and they were doing fine in the cities. they had prosperous cities and great health systems. but they really had to get out into the countryside. and when we celebrated mandela -- i can't remember,
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maybe his 80th birthday -- 80th or 85th birthday, i was down there and we had 50 people who worked with our health access initiative dressed up and ready to go to south africa to implement a plan that the government -- the cabinet had adopted. and it all was canceled. and it was a bizarre story of local politics gone awry. the third most important person in south africa's political hierarchy after the president and deputy president is the treasurer of the african national congress. because he funds all their political operations. and it was effectively a one-party dominant state. his wife was a health minister. she had been trained as a physician in the old soviet union. and she thought aids was sort of a western plot to make
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pharmaceutical companies more money. and said all this could be cured by eating native roots and yams. sounds crazy now but they believed that. and mbeki felt, perhaps accurately, that he couldn't let her go and hold on to power so even though he had a wonderful woman working for him in his office who wanted to do something about it, they didn't. but the point is, it is another thing to remember, in whatever you do. mbeki took office intending to build a modern economic state. he was gifted enough to do it. he knew enough to do it. but he didn't deal well with the incoming fire. when something happens you didn't intend to happen -- aids explodes -- you can't play like it didn't happen. i always say, when president bush and al gore ran for
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president in 2000, nobody asked either one of them what are you going to do when the twin towers are blown up, the pentagon's attack, and another plane aimed for the capitol crashes in pennsylvania. he could could have said, i'm sorry, that's not what i ran to do. i ran to reverse bill clinton's economic policy. you're laughing but you see that's basically what happened in south africa. that's important to remember not just in politics but in anything. there's always going to be something happened you weren't planning for and you have to learn to deal with that and pursue your original vision at the same time. but mandela still deserves history's applause because south africa is still a democracy, it is still operating, it is still doing a lot of good, president zuma, who has his own problems, has been great dealing with aids. really great. and mandela proved that inclusion is better than constant conflict.
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so i think all of that works. now let's talk about some non-state actors. wunduri matai. she was a good friend of hillary's and mine. she was an amazing woman. but she knew that the kenyan tree cover had gone all the way down to 1% of the land, that it was eroding the top soil, destroying agricultural productivity, that it was going to cause endless political conflicts in the country. fuel corruption. and she had a vision of repairing that damage so kenya could take its considerable
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other strengths and grow in a way that produces broad-based prosperity. but what she won the nobel prize for was figuring out, i need to figure out something everybody can do to advance this vision. i don't need to just be in the parliament, so she got thousands and thousands of people to plant trees, tens of millions of trees. single-handedly from the grassroots up she began to try to reverse a debilitating trend, without which that we're still working on today. so her vision as a citizen organizing an ngo, she didn't have the power to do it all herself. but now the government has supported policies finally that are allowing us to map the country, to plan in a strategic way to do things and they ask my
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foundation to go there because of, i think, our long friendship with her and what we'd done. but that's a way to look at her life and say, she made a real difference and she did it by empowering individual people to do something that sounds simple and doing it on a scale that would catch the attention of the world. i'll give you another example. a republican american businessman, now sadly passed away a few years ago. in the early 1960s, ken iverson founded a company called new corps. it was a steel company. his vision was to make steel, not in original casting the way it was largely done in and
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around pittsburgh, but by melting down existing steel and then reforming it. and technology was developed so the steel could then be rolled in one-inch thick rolls instead of four-inch thick rolls making it much more malleable and conversion for a variety of purposes. that's not the important thing. iverson decided that if he wanted this company to last in the long run, and to be able to adapt, that 40% of their success would be rooted in their technology and 60% in their people. so he adopted the most radical egalitarian culture of any company of which i am aware in america. i -- the reason i know this is because i recruited the company to arkansas and i liked him and i'm pretty sure he never voted
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for me because he was a really conservative republican. he didn't want the government to tell him to do this, but this was a communitarian's dream. they rented office space in an office park in charlotte, north carolina. they had a grand total of 22 people in the central office. with 11 steel mills. the workers were paid a salary that averaged 65% to 75% of the industry average but they got a weekly bonus based on production total. and the nonproduction workers got a bonus based on another formula. in addition to that, there was a profit-sharing plan of 10% of the profits, unavailable to top management. everybody else participated. in addition to that, if you had
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a child who wanted to go to college and you were employed there, they'd pay the equivalent of a year's tuition in community college for the child to go. one man in darlington, south carolina, educated eight children working for nucore and it had no adverse effect on your pay or your bonus. in addition to that, they had a no-layoff policy. so, i've still got the letter ken iverson wrote to all of his employees in the only year in the 1980s when nucor made less money than they did the year before. they never lost money until the financial crash, but their profit margin went down. so he sent a letter which said something like this -- as you know, the world steel business is in a terrible slump and so our sales went down 20% this year.
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this is not your fault. you did everything i asked you to do. it is, however, my fault. i should have been smart enough to figure out how we could be the only company in the world not to have our profits decline. as you know, i have a no-layoff policy so everybody's income's going down 20% this year. but since it's my fault, not yours, i'm going to cut my income 60%. there was a big article in "fortune" or "forbes" of -- it was kind of mixed tone, pointing out how he was now by lightyears the lowest paid fortune 500 company executive in america. he wore it like a badge of honor. when i was president he wrote a little management book called "plain talk." it's still my favorite one. he said i can go down the street in new york where all these corporate offices are and i can watch people go to work and look at them five minutes at their desk and tell you whether that company's succeeding or not. and he said, long before it
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became the problem it is today, i don't want short-term investors in nucor. they want somebody committed to turn a quick profit, they should invest somewhere else. we're in it for the long run. and it's very interesting to see at a very inclusive process there were only three management layers below him and the employee making the steel. and every employee had the president's phone number and his. and you could call him on the phone but only about if you had talked to your supervisor first. the point is, he created a culture of radical inclusion. and it worked and it's working today. they have the same culture today
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except now in the education benefit is higher, and if you got a spouse who wants to go to college or spouse is eligible and if you want to go after work, you can go. and none of it takes a penny away from either your wages or your bonus. so i'd say that guy was a success. by the time i became president, new corp was the third biggest steel company in america. and he did it with a vision, with a plan, with execution and radical inclusion. and i'll give you another example. bill and melinda gates. they have a simple vision. their vision is that every life has equal value and therefore we should create a world where people have equal chances. that's their vision. simple. they have a strategy. we got a lot of money. and we're going to invest to achieve that vision. but we're going to invest it through people who do things that we can't do. we don't want to hire 100,000
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people to implement all these things we fund. so for example melinda gates and hillary recently announced before she left the foundation that they were going to -- all this data research they had done on the condition of women and disparities and the conditions of women and men in the united states and around the world. bill gates and the gates foundation invests a lot of money every year through our health access initiative to solve problems. and i love the way he just wants to do what works. he said to me a few years ago, you know, the world shouldn't need what you do. the world health organization ought to be able to do this. but it can't. and so we do it.
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but it's very interesting to watch how a person -- and if you listen to him, he'll say we find it harder to give this money away than it was to make it. because our goal is simple and clear. we want to create a world of equal chances. and i think they have been most successful in their health investments around the world where the millennium development goals have been exceeded for declining infant mortality and any other number of measurements there. i'll give you one other example or two in health care because they're important. i recently went to haiti where i've been working for many years to visit a project i supported another the grounds of the oldest aids clinic in the world. first aids clinic in the world was established in port au prince. now 3 million live there, so a
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lot of people live out on a field. 100,000 people in what should be out in the water. this makes the possibility of water-born diseases much more likely. and that's what cholera turned out to be basically when it entered the water stream in haiti. because the country doesn't have good sewer and water systems. so bill took the money that he got from a variety of sources
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and built a modern cholera treatment center. most important thing is this. this guy spent his whole life treating aids. and then when the earthquake occurred, all the land he had around his little hospital, he gave over to a tent city. but he realized that cholera could be just as debilitating to his country. so he decided a hospital to maximize the successive treatment, sanitation, no infections. and he treated the water and the sanitation above the ground because of the characteristics i just described. he developed this absolutely beautiful treatment center which got 99% bacteria out of the waste system and then they covered it with chlorine and got up to 99% before it could ever be released into the ground. this one man and one place doing something at an affordable price that could be scaled and do save countless lives around the world. paul farmer, my friend, is on the board of our health programs, founded partners in health with the head of the
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world bank and he figured out how to serve an area of 200,000 with a health staff that would normally only serve 20,000. by building one good hospital and then satellite clinics and then beyond the satellite trained community medical workers. and then he went to rwanda at our request and worked with our foundation and built a hospital in every region of the country, they had all been destroyed except the one in the capital city during the genocide. the last hospital near the border is the only serious cancer treatment center in that part of africa. but they're all the same thing. a simple system that can be
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affordable and repeated by countries with income levels way below ours. if you have a vision, a strategy, and you have the support of people at the grassroots level because you're inclusive, these kinds of things can be done by ordinary citizens. these are things we need to be thinking about as we work to restore broad based prosperity, as we work to define our role in a world of competition from new and different sources to define the future. arguably the most interesting
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nongovernmental organization today which proves the importance of inclusion by its shortcomings but it's formidable is isis. isis is a terrorist organization, an ngo, trying to become a state. that is they don't recognize any of the boundaries of the middle eastern countries that are legitimate. it was largely drawn after the collapse of the ottoman empire in world war i. so when they attack a place, they set up then own judicial system, whatever their social services are going to be. and you can't disagree with them or they will kill you.
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as we have seen. they will allow a christian or a jew to live it they agree to pay a fine or a tax every year to live within their hallowed kingdom. but if they decide you're apostate, they must kill you which is why they authorized the killing of other muslims and why they went after the totally powerless because they viewed them as inherently apostate. the only book i'll recommend today. fascinating book written on the minority religions of the middle east by a retired british servant called heirs to forgotten kingdoms, about all the minorities. .
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. fascinating book written on the minority religions in the middle east by a retired british civil servant fluent in arabic and farsy. heirs to forgotten kingdoms. there are still 200,000 samaritans there. so, we surely there's a good samaritan, the parable. it's fascinating. but the point is, i said isis is the opposite. they have a vision. they have a strategy. they think they're right. but they are antiinclusion in the extreme. and people are voting with their feet and as you see. it will not be the future, but it cannot be ignored. it has to be countered. so, as america charts its course with the world and tries to restore prosperity and opportunity at home, tries to get back more in the future business to accelerate all these
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great technological and biological developments that are going on. it is well to remember that we need to make our purposes clear. with a vision that is inclusive of our own people and also gives other people a chance to be part of constructive rather than destructive partnerships. for me personally, i've always had a pretty simple purpose. i always wanted at the end of my life, to be able to answer with a resounding yes three questions. are people better off when you quit than when you started? do children have a brighter future? are things coming together instead of being torn apart. to me, all the rest is background music and i tried to develop the political skills and the ability to constantly develop policy that would enable
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me personally to say that. which meant at given time, i might have a different vision for what the country had to do at this point in time or my native state had to do at that point many time. all of you have to do that. when i was a student here and i quoted this in 1992 when i came here and gave me lectures before i started my campaign. i was deeply moved by carol quigley's statement in the history of civilizations that the the defining characteric of our civilization was a simple bloef that the future could be better than the past and that every person had a personal moral responsibility to contribute to making it better. that no one had the truth. so, the great joy in life was the constant search for the
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truth. and it was a journey that gave life meaning. so, i can't tell you what your purpose should be. but i can tell you you'll have a lot more fun in your life if you have one and if it's bigger than you. a couple of years ago right as the annual meeting of our global initiative was beginning, i was notified that a young woman who worked for our health access initiative in mozambique and her fiance, a gifted architect, had been among those murdered by al shahab and the attack on the mall in nairobi. she was a dutch nurse.
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ironically in all these years i've been doing this work, we've only lost two people to violence. both dutch nurses. but this one was a dutch nurse who was so good at what she did and went back to harvard and got a pafd in public health and bent to take management position in africa. her name was ellaf. she was 8 and a half months pregnant. she went to nairobi because it's the best place in that part of africa to have a baby. and she and her husband were just strolling down the mall and they were killeded. the people that killed her doubtless think they are righteous people.
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but if you believe in an inclusive future, it doesn't belong to them. nigeria has a new president because a majority of people in nigeria don't like boka haram. they don't think you have a right to kill everybody that disagrees with you. so, any way, when i was at the global initiative, i was very moved by this because i had been with that woman six weeks before she was murdered. visiting our projects. and she was beautiful and very pregnant. and we joked, i said i'm a lamaz father, if you have an energy, just call me into play. six weeks later, she was gone. none of us know how long we're going to be here, what we're going to do, but her life had purpose. because she had a vision.
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and she developed a personal strategy to make a difference. which she did. so, i told this story. that i just told you. and when i told the story, another woman came up to me and she said, you know, more than 20 years ago, i was that young nurse. i was in kenya. i was working. in africa, ngo and i was pregnant and i went to nairobi to have my baby. she said my baby was born healthy. and i was blessed. but a few years ago, he was shot several times in the virginia tech shooting. and she said thank god he lived and it changed his whole life and all he wants to do now is work in a nongovernmental group to give children a safer future.
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we all find our purpose in our own way. but if you work at it, it will come. i wish you well. thank you very much.
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mr. president, the students have submitted some really excellent questions i think, very stimulating, but the first one is is a softball. and i can't let you talk too long on it. we have got to, it's going to be great fun, i think. there are some other good ones coming along. it's the teacher in me. what did going to georgetown mean to you? how did it influence your purpose? >> i'll try to give you a short answer because i think i told this before, but when i wrote my autobiography, hi editor made me take out 20 pages i wrote about
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georgetown and there's stale lot in there about it. he said, you can't possibly remember all these people. and all these teachers and everything, but i do. it had a profound impact on me first of all because i met people from all over the world. both my teachers and my fellow students. that i would have never met otherwise. in our class, our class was the only graduating class in i think in american history that produced three presidents of three countries. when i became president, my classmate was the president of el salvador. when i left office, gloria was the president of the philippines and the whole time i was there, our classmate was the head of the saudi version of the cia. later ambassador to the united states, the united kingdom. i was here with fascinating
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people at a fascinating time. but it affected me mostly because of the teachers i had. and the people i went to school with and the conversations we had about what was going on in our class we had. it was very different than now. we did not have, my class, foreign service, an elective course until the second semester of our junior year. a big controversy. but i loved it. it, i doubt very seriously if i ever would have become president had i not come to georgetown and i'm certain i would not have done whatever good i did do, i would have done less well if i hadn't been here. >> thank you. this is from dorea, a sophomore
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in the college. sort of two pronged. where do you see this generation of young adults going in in what way is our path going to be different than before? >> what has happened in technology to this day, it will look like child's play. over the next 20 to 30 years. i think most of you will live to be 90 years old or more, unless some accident where you have an environmentally caused cancer we don't know how to treat yet. i think that you will live in a time where the technological revolution will extend into artificial intelligence and we'll be able to do things we've never been able to do before. i think the combination of nano technology and improvements and
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the continuing -- of the genome will lead us to have affordable four times a year health exam that will basically involve going into a canister and being scanned and i think one of the biggest debates in medicine within 20 years will be for example since we all have cancerous cells moving around in our body all the time and most of them are just destroyed, one of the great questions will be now that we can see this microscopic tumor, should we zap it out now or wait till later. your life will be dramatically different. i believe that you will be given one final chance to figure out how to avoid the most calamitous consequences of climate change and i think there will be more economically beneficial ways to
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do it than there are now. i think you'll have to worry a lot about water. i think california's a canary in a coal mine. i think that will be a big issue. i think you'll have to worry about how to feed a planet of 9 billion people if we go that far. if we modernize enough in the modern world, we may stop at 8 billion because one thing that across all religions and cultures that slows the birthrate is the education of women and the economic development of the poor. so, i think you live in an exciting time. i think that it is unlikely that these id logically driven conflicts we're having now with nonstate actors will be fully resolved. i hope and pray that we will leave behind a system where we
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can say with some confidence that we can keep really big, bad things from happening. that's why this negotiation with iran is so important. maybe for reasons that haven't been much in the press. for example, if they get a bomb, then there's four or five arab countries that can afford one. we've got six more people with nuclear capacity, they're expensive to build, maintain and very expensive to secure and if you're going to have a bomb that you've got to have excess material and that's what you'll have to watch. when you grow up. what about the excess? because any country that uses a big bomb knows that it can be annihilated. but that material, it's i consider it a minor miracle of the modern world that the fis l stocks of pakistan as far as we know even though mr. khan gave all the nuclear technology to north korea and others, as far as we know, their materials have not been stolen, sold or given away.
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so, i think you'll have to worry about all that. but i believe that you'll live longer, have more options and you will, we will probably not have fully resolved the problem between growing productivity and adequate employment. but i do think we'll do a better job in the time you're raising your own kids and living your own lives. i think we will do a better job in figuring out how to more fairly apportion the waelt we are creating. i think there will be more shared prosperity, but what nobody can really tell you is that if we've entered a period where the technological changes are so rapid that we won't be able to create enough employment in a conventional sense for 40 hours a week to keep the populous employed, so if that happens, we'll have to think about some radical changes in the arrangement of labor. carlos slim said the other day,
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he's pretty smart. that he thought some time in this new century, we would maybe be down to a three-day workweek because of the breathtaking increases in productivity. if so, have at it. have a lot of fun on your leisure time. not forget to surf. >> this may be the easiest question or the toughest. what was your most difficult decision as president or otherwise? we can pass. >> the ones i had to make? >> yeah. >> well, interestingly enough, they weren't the ones that were the most politically unpopular.
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like i said, 80% of the people are against what i did in mexico. easy decision. 74% of the people were against my first act which was to put together a big aid package for russiaful they were then so poor in '93, they couldn't afford to bring their soldiers home from the baltic stalts. a majority was against what i did in bosnia, when we started. the most difficult decision were my version of the aids crisis. i ran for president because i thought trickle down economics was wrong. we had a robust economic climate for most of the 1980s. and ordinary people weren't for that at all. poverty had gone up. wages were stag nat.
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and i wanted to give the middle class a tax cut and right before i was elected, the government said oh, by the way, we, the deficit's going to be twice as big as we told you it was. oh, by the way. i could play like it didn't happen and present my original plan or go back to the core strategy, which was to get america growing again, we had to bring interest rates down. we had a normal economy, inflation, interest rates were getting high. and they were higher than inflation. so, my gamble was if i could get interest rates down, there would be this huge amount of private investment which would overcome the contractionary impact of the
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plan i presented, which called for spepding cuts and tax increases, but i hated to give up something i really wanted to provide and i had to choose that or doubling the earned income tax credit. which benefitted lower income workers and i just don't think a society as rich as ours should allow anybody to have kids in the house and work full time and still be in poverty. i just think that's wrong. so, i did it, all i heard for two years, he broke his promise on the middle class tax cut. the interest rate declined to $2200 to the average family in lower mortgage rate, college loan rates and credit card rates. and when we passed a balanced budget bill, we passed a middle class tax cut, but that was a hard decision. it was hard for me not to act alone in bosnia. we all knew what serbia was
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doing in bosnia and i sent my then secretary of state warren christopher around europe and asked them to help and they didn't want to do it and thousand reasons why. and i decided i shouldn't do that because it wouldn't be sustainable. the europeans had to buy in. they had to own the fact that if they wanted europe that was united, democratic and free for the first time in history, the balkans were going to be part of it and so, i waited until we could get a unified response. it was a painful wait. a lot of people died in that wait. some of the decisions i regret most were not hard, but were wrong. we didn't even talk seriously about whether we should send troops to rwanda because the public was exhausted with what
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happened at black hawk down. and somalia. and because we were involved in bosnia and that was much more in the news and frankly, we didn't have any idea they could kill 10% of the country in 90 days with machetes, essentially. so, sometimes, the things you regret most were not hard at the time. we should have been a little harder. i'll always regret we didn't have a long, drawn out debate on it. didn't even really discuss it and i spent my life trying to make it up to rwanda and i'm about to get there, i think. i'm working on it. >> this is a question i wanted to ask. earlier on, you committed yourself to public service.
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you outlined your fundamental purpose. vocational commitment like that, did you ever go through a time when you really questioned, say, what am i doing here? and tempted to withdraw? >> just to give it up? >> public service. >> well, i did a couple of times when i was governor. i was governor a long time. at least i proved i could hold down a job. but i, you know, i served a very long time and people of my native state were good enough to elect me five times. based on recent events, i don't know if i could win again down there, but so, there were times when i just got burned out, you know? but i never wanted, i'd always find something new to do. and i told people one reason i
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loved being in public life, it was like peeling an onion that had no end. there was always another lair. it was always something new, interesting. always something to engage the imagination and stretch your capacities. so, i did and when, when the president were hot on our white water business and i realized i knew it wasn't on a level, there was nothing to it and that there couldn't have been, i invested in a land deal and lost money.
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the guy later went in the business and failed the smallest in the country and i didn't ever borrow any money from them. it was a made up deal. it was heartbreaking to me to see otherwise sensible people treated like it was something, but it never made me want to quit. i was raised, had an unusual upbringing, but i was raised not to quit. we're not big on quitting in my family. you may notice that. the -- and -- so, it was awful. but i learned to kind of just wall it off. and i think you know, i also felt maybe this was arrogant and i shouldn't have felt that way. but i spent a lot of time when i was president reading the history of other presidencies, including not well-known presidents. and i realized that the success of a given president is it's first, determined by the time in which you live. i mean, you're going to be a great president or flop depending on whether you try to
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be a gave or he gave us a democracy. he made the right decision, therefore even though government had nowhere near the range of things to do than it does now, he was a great president and made really good decisions on the big things. lincoln became president when the whole question was whether or not the union would survive or not. a lot of people thought it wouldn't. a lot of people thought the south -- we wouldn't hang around. the union wouldn't hang around long enough to do it. he was an roosevelt had the
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depression and world war ii, but it also depends on whether the skills and the psychological of a person in a given leadership position actually fit well with the challenges of that particular moment. and when i read the, all these histories of the lesser known presidents, i realized some of them were really well suited to govern when they did and others might have been quite successful had they governed in another time, but not then. like if you, just an example, a lot of people think franklin pierce is one of the worst presidents we had. and if you measure that because he was elected right before the civil war and he couldn't stop the country's drift toward war and couldn't figure out how to stop the spread of slavery and this and that, that's absolutely true, but he was an immensely successful soldier in the mexican war. he was a successful member of congress and went home and became governor of new hampshire.
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only other governor of a small state to be elected president. and he was on his way to be inaugurated with his only child. presidents were then inaugurated in march. he took a train to washington. on the way, there was a train wreck. nobody was hurt very bad. there were a couple of broken bones, except his 11-year-old son, who fell on his neck, snapped it and died. nobody else would have gotten more than a broken bone and that's how he began his presidency. with his wife in a virtually catatonic state of grief, so i always wondered and he had different circumstances, he may have quite a successful president. ruled in a calmer time and i'm not sure that it was in the cause for anybody to succeed before the country split apart. so, any way, that's what i think about, but i don't, by and large, i think when you get tired, you want to bag it,
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unless you're old and you think i've got three years left and i'd like to spend it doing something else, you ought to hang in there and do it. if you believe you made the right decision in the first place and you ought to go, somebody will push you out one way or the other. but you ought not to open the door if you think, if your vision has not been fulfilled. i'm not big on quitting. i'd rather hang around and fight it through and if you need to go, somebody will kick you out. >> all right, mr. president, we're allowed one more question. you've obviously read very widely over a long time. if you had to recommend one book, what would it be?


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