I n early June, I gave a radio address to increase awareness of mental-health issues with Tipper Gore, whom I had named my official advisor for mental health and who recently had courageously revealed her own treatment for depression. Two days later, Hillary and I joined Al and Tipper for a White House Conference on Mental Health, in which we dealt with the staggering personal, economic, and social costs of untreated mental illness..www.ideafutura.co.uk.
For the rest of the month, I highlighted our gun safety proposals; our efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine; my efforts to include environmental and labor rights issues in trade talks; the report of the Presidents Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board on security at the Energy Departments weapons labs; a plan to restore health and disability benefits to legal immigrants; a proposal to allow Medicaid to cover disabled Americans who couldnt meet the costs of treatments if they lost their health-care coverage because they entered the workforce; legislation to help older children who leave foster care to make the adjustment to independent living; and a plan to modernize Medicare and extend the life of its trust fund..http://www.titelhelden.eu.
I had been looking forward to July. I thought it would be a predictable, positive month. I would announce that we were taking the bald eagle off the endangered species list, and Al Gore would outline our plan to complete the restoration of the Florida Everglades. Hillary would begin her listening tour at Senator Moynihans farm at Pindars Corners in upstate New York, and I would take a tour of poor communities across the country to promote my New Markets initiative to attract more investment to areas that were still not part of our recovery. All those things happened, but so did events that were unplanned, troublesome, or tragic..www.sebby.cc.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan called and asked if he could come to Washington on July 4 to discuss the dangerous standoff with India that had begun several weeks earlier when Pakistani forces under the command of General Pervez Musharraf crossed the Line of Control, which had been the recognized and generally observed boundary between India and Pakistan in Kashmir since 1972. Sharif was concerned that the situation Pakistan had created was getting out of control, and he hoped to use my good offices not only to resolve the crisis but also to help mediate with the Indians on the question of Kashmir itself. Even before the crisis, Sharif had asked me to help in Kashmir, saying it was as worthy of my attention as the Middle East and Northern Ireland. I had explained to him then that the United States was involved in those peace processes because both sides wanted us. In this case, India had strongly refused the involvement of any outside party..cartier love bracelet replica.
Sharifs moves were perplexing because that February, Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had traveled to Lahore, Pakistan, to promote bilateral talks aimed at resolving the Kashmir problem and other differences. By crossing the Line of Control, Pakistan had wrecked the talks. I didnt know whether Sharif had authorized the invasion to create a crisis he hoped would get America involved or had simply allowed it in order to avoid a confrontation with Pakistans powerful military. Regardless, he had gotten himself into a bind with no easy way out..http://www.hopeonthestreet.co.uk.
I told Sharif that he was always welcome in Washington, even on July 4, but if he wanted me to spend Americas Independence Day with him, he had to come to the United States knowing two things: first, he had to agree to withdraw his troops back across the Line of Control; and second, I would not agree to intervene in the Kashmir dispute, especially under circumstances that appeared to reward Pakistans wrongful incursion..http://www.panchro.co.uk.
Sharif said he wanted to come anyway. On July 4, we met at Blair House. It was a hot day, but the Pakistani delegation was used to the heat and, in their traditional white pants and long tunics, seemed more comfortable than my team. Once more, Sharif urged me to intervene in Kashmir, and again I explained that without Indias consent it would be counterproductive, but that I would urge Vajpayee to resume the bilateral dialogue if the Pakistani troops withdrew. He agreed, and we released a joint statement saying that steps would be taken to restore the Line of Control and that I would support and encourage the resumption and intensification of bilateral talks once the violence had stopped..http://www.sebby.cc.
After the meeting, I thought perhaps Sharif had come in order to use pressure from the United States to provide himself cover for ordering his military to defuse the conflict. I knew he was on shaky ground at home, and I hoped he would survive, because I needed his cooperation in the fight against terrorism..http://www.titelhelden.eu.
Pakistan was one of the few countries with close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Before our July 4 meeting, I had asked Sharif on three occasions for help in apprehending Osama bin Laden: in our meeting the previous December, at King Husseins funeral, and in a June phone conversation and follow-up letter. We had intelligence reports that al Qaeda was planning attacks on U.S. officials and facilities in various places around the world and perhaps in the United States as well. We had been successful in breaking up cells and arresting a number of al Qaeda members, but unless bin Laden and his top lieutenants were apprehended or killed, the threat would remain. On July 4, I told Sharif that unless he did more to help, I would have to announce that Pakistan was in effect supporting terrorism in Afghanistan..www.sigmund-freud.co.uk.
On the day I met with Sharif, I also signed an executive order placing economic sanctions on the Taliban, freezing its assets and prohibiting commercial exchanges. Around this time, with Sharifs support, U.S. officials also began to train sixty Pakistani troops as commandos to go into Afghanistan to get bin Laden. I was skeptical about the project; even if Sharif wanted to help, the Pakistani military was full of Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers. But I thought we had nothing to lose by exploring every option..Cartier love bracelet replica.
The day after the Sharif meeting, I started the New Markets tour, beginning in Hazard, Kentucky, with a large delegation including several business executives, congressmen, cabinet members, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Al From..cartier love bracelet replica.
I was glad that Jackson was making the tour and that we were starting in Appalachia, Americas poorest all-white area. Jesse had long worked to bring more private-sector investment to poor areas, and we had grown even closer during the impeachment year, when he had strongly supported my whole family and made a special effort to reach out to Chelsea. From Kentucky we traveled to Clarksdale, Mississippi; East St. Louis, Illinois; the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota; a Hispanic neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona; and the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles..www.ideafutura.co.uk.
Even though America had had two years of unemployment rates just above 4 percent, all the communities I visited and many like them suffered from unemployment that was far higher than that and per capita incomes well below the national average. The unemployment rate at Pine Ridge was over 70 percent. Yet everywhere we went, I met intelligent, hardworking people who were capable of contributing much more to the economy..cartier love braclet replica.
I thought doing more to get investment into these areas was both the right thing to do and economically smart. We were already enjoying the largest economic expansion in history, with a rapidly growing rate of productivity. It seemed to me there were three ways to continue to increase growth without inflation: sell more products and services overseas; increase the workforce participation of particular populations, like welfare recipients; and bring growth to new markets in America where investment was too low and unemployment too high...
We were doing well in the first two areas, with more than 250 trade agreements and welfare reform. And we had made a good start on the third, with more than 130 empowerment zones and enterprise communities, community development banks, and aggressive enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act. But too many communities had been left behind. I was putting together a legislative proposal to increase available capital to inner cities, rural towns, and Indian reservations by $15 billion. Since it would promote free enterprise, I hoped to get strong bipartisan support and was encouraged by the fact that Speaker Hastert seemed especially interested in the effort.
On July 15, Ehud and Nava Barak accepted an invitation to spend the night at Camp David with Hillary and me. We had an enjoyable dinner, and Ehud and I stayed up talking until nearly three in the morning. It was clear that he wanted to complete the peace process and believed that his big election victory gave him a mandate to do so. He was interested in doing something substantive at Camp David, especially after I showed him the building where most of the negotiations President Carter mediated between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin had taken place in 1978.
At the same time I was also occupied with trying to get the Northern Ireland peace process back on track. There was a deadlock caused by a disagreement between Sinn Fein and the Unionists over whether the IRAs decommissioning could occur after the new government was formed or had to come before it. I explained the situation to Barak, who was intrigued by the differences and similarities between the Irish problems and his own.
The next day John Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister Lauren were killed when the small plane John was flying crashed off the coast of Massachusetts. I had liked John ever since I had met him in the 1980s when he was a law student working as an intern in Mickey Kantors firm in Los Angeles. He had come to one of my first New York campaign events in 1991, and not long before they perished I had enjoyed showing Carolyn and John the residence floors of the White House. Ted Kennedy gave another magnificent eulogy for a fallen family member: Like his father, he had every gift.
On July 23, King Hassan II of Morocco died at the age of seventy. He had been an ally of the United States, and a supporter of the Middle East peace process, and I had enjoyed a good personal relationship with him. Again on short notice, President Bush agreed to fly to Morocco for the funeral with Hillary, Chelsea, and me. I walked behind the kings horse-drawn casket with President Mubarak, Yasser Arafat, Jacques Chirac, and other leaders on a three-mile route through downtown Rabat. Well over one million people lined the streets, ululating and shouting in grief and respect to their fallen monarch. The deafening din of the huge, emotional throng made the march one of the most incredible events I had ever participated in. I think Hassan would have approved.
After a brief meeting with Hassans son and heir, King Mohammed VI, I flew home for a couple of days of work, then left again for Sarajevo, where I joined several European leaders as we committed to a stability pact for the Balkans, an agreement to support the regions short-term needs and long-term growth by providing greater access to our markets for Balkan products; working for the inclusion of southeastern European countries into the WTO; and providing investment funds and credit guarantees to encourage private investment.
The rest of the summer flew by as I continued to disagree with the Republicans over the budget and the size and distribution of their proposed tax cut; Dick Holbrooke was finally confirmed as UN ambassador after an unconscionable delay of fourteen months; and Hillary moved closer to declaring her Senate candidacy.
In August, we took two trips to New York to look for a home. On the twenty-eighth, we visited a late-nineteenth-century farmhouse with a large addition from 1989 in Chappaqua, about forty miles from Manhattan. The old part of the house was charming, the new part spacious and full of light. The instant I walked upstairs into the master bedroom I told Hillary we had to buy the house. It was part of the 1989 addition; it had extra-high ceilings with a row of glass doors facing the backyard, and had two huge windows on the other walls. When Hillary asked me why I was so sure, I replied, Because youre about to start a hard campaign. Therell be some bad days. This beautiful room is bathed in light. Youll wake up every morning in a good humor.
Later in August, I traveled to Atlanta to give the Medal of Freedom to President and Mrs. Carter for the extraordinary work they had done as private citizens since leaving the White House. A couple of days later, in a White House ceremony, I gave the award to several other distinguished Americans, including President Ford and Lloyd Bentsen. The other recipients were civil rights, labor, democracy, and environmental activists. All were less famous than Ford and Bentsen, but each had made unique and enduring contributions to America.
I did a little campaigning, going to Arkansas with Al Gore for meetings with local farmers and black leaders from across the South and a large fund-raiser full of people from my old campaigns. I also spoke and played saxophone at an event for Hillary on Marthas Vineyard, and appeared with her at events in New York, including a stop at the state fair in Syracuse, where I was right at home with the farmers. I enjoyed campaigning for both Hillary and Al, and I was beginning to look forward to a time when, after a lifetime of being helped by others, I could end my life in politics the way Id started it, campaigning for other people I believed in.
In early September, Henry Cisneros finally resolved his case with independent counsel David Barrett, who had indicted him, unbelieveably, on eighteen felony counts for understating personal expenses to the FBI during his 1993 interview. On the day before his trial began, Barrett, who knew he had an unwinnable case, offered Cisneros a deal: a guilty plea to one misdemeanor, a $10,000 fine, and no jail time. Henry took it to avoid the crushing legal expense of a long trial. Barrett had spent more than $9 million of the taxpayers money to torment a good man for four years. Just a few weeks earlier, the independent counsel law had expired.
Most of September was devoted to foreign policy. Early in the month Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross were in Gaza to support Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat as they agreed on the next steps to implement the Wye River accord, approving a port for the Palestinians, a road connecting the West Bank and Gaza, the handover of 11 percent of the West Bank, and the release of 350 prisoners. Albright and Ross then went to Damascus to urge President Assad to respond to Baraks desire for peace talks with him soon.
On the ninth, I made my first trip to New Zealand for the APEC summit. Chelsea went with me, while Hillary stayed home to campaign. The big news at the summit involved Indonesia and the support its military had given to the violent suppression of the pro-independence movement in East Timor, a long-troubled Roman Catholic enclave in the worlds most populous Muslim country. Most of the APEC leaders favored an international peacekeeping mission for East Timor, and Australian prime minister John Howard was willing to take the lead. At first the Indonesians were opposed to it, but soon they would be forced to relent. An international coalition was formed to send troops to East Timor under the leadership of Australia, and I pledged to Prime Minister Howard that I would send a couple of hundred American troops to provide the logistical support our allies needed.
I also met with President Jiang to discuss WTO issues, held joint discussions with Kim Dae Jung and Keizo Obuchi to reaffirm our common position on North Korea, and had my first meeting with Boris Yeltsins new prime minister and chosen successor, Vladimir Putin. Putin presented a stark contrast to Yeltsin. Yeltsin was large and stocky; Putin was compact and extremely fit from years of martial arts practice. Yeltsin was voluble; the former KGB agent was measured and precise. I came away from the meeting believing Yeltsin had picked a successor who had the skills and capacity for hard work necessary to manage Russias turbulent political and economic life better than Yeltsin now could, given his health problems; Putin also had the toughness to defend Russias interests and protect Yeltsins legacy.
Before we left New Zealand, Chelsea and I and my staff took some time to enjoy the beautiful country. Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and her husband, Burton, hosted us in Queenstown, where I played golf with Burton, Chelsea explored caves with the Shipley kids, and several of my staff went bungee jumping off a high bridge. Gene Sperling tried to goad me into trying it, but I told him Id had about all the free falls I could stand.
Our last stop was the International Antarctic Center in Christchurch, Americas launching station for our operations in Antarctica. The cen-ter contained a large training module in which the frigid conditions of Antarctica were replicated. I went there to highlight the problem of global warming. Antarctica is a great cooling tower for our planet, with ice more than two miles thick. A huge chunk of Antarctic ice, about the size of Rhode Island, had recently broken free as a result of thawing. I released previously classified satellite photos of the continent to aid in studying the changes that were occurring. The biggest thrill of the event for Chelsea and me was the presence of Sir Edmund Hillary, who had explored the South Pole in the 1950s, was the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest, and, most important, was the man Chelseas mother had been named for.
Soon after I returned to America, I went to New York to open the last UN General Assembly of the twentieth century, urging the delegates to adopt three resolutions: to do more to fight poverty and put a human face on the global economy; to increase our efforts to prevent or quickly stop the killing of innocents in ethnic, religious, racial, or tribal conflicts; and to intensify our efforts to prevent the use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons by irresponsible nations or terrorist groups.
At the end of the month I got back to domestic affairs, vetoing the latest Republican tax cut because it was too big, too bloated, and put too great a burden on Americas economy. Under the budget rules, the bill would have forced large cuts in education, health care, and environmental protection. It would have prevented us from extending the life of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and from adding a much-needed prescription drug benefit to Medicare.
We were going to have a surplus this year of about $100 billion, but the proposed GOP tax cut would cost nearly $1 trillion over a decade. Republicans justification for it was based on projected surpluses. On this issue I was far more conservative than they were. If the projections were wrong, the deficits would return, and, with them, higher interest rates and slower growth. Over the previous five years, Congressional Budget Office estimates had been off by an average of 13 percent a year, though our administrations had been closer to the mark. It was an irresponsible risk. I asked the Republicans to work with the White House and the Democrats in the same spirit that had produced the bipartisan welfare reform bill in 1996 and the Balanced Budget Act in 1997.
On September 24, Hillary and I hosted an event in the Old Executive Office Building to celebrate the success of bipartisan efforts to increase the adoption of children out of the foster-care system. They had increased almost 30 percent in the two years since our legislation had passed. I paid tribute to Hillary, who had been working on the issue for more than twenty years, and to perhaps the most ardent supporter of the reforms in the House, Tom DeLay, himself an adoptive parent.
I would have liked a few more moments like that, but with this one exception, DeLay didnt believe in consorting with the enemy.
Partisanship returned in early October, when the Senate rejected, on a party-line vote, my nomination of Judge Ronnie White to a federal district judgeship. White was the first African-American man to serve on the Missouri Supreme Court and was a highly regarded judge. He was defeated after Missouris conservative senator John Ashcroft, who was in a tough fight for reelection against Governor Mel Carnahan, grossly distorted Whites record on the death penalty. White had voted to uphold 70 percent of the death penalty cases that had come before him. On more than half of those he had voted to reverse, he was part of a unanimous state supreme court ruling. Ashcroft got his Republican colleagues to go along with the smear because he thought it would help him and hurt Whites supporter Governor Carnahan with prodeath penalty voters in Missouri.
Ashcroft wasnt alone in completely politicizing the confirmation process. By this time, Senator Jesse Helms had refused for years to allow the Senate to vote on a black judge for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, even though there had never been an African-American on the court. And the Republicans wondered why African-Americans wouldnt vote for them.
Our partisan differences extended even to the nuclear test ban treaty, which had been supported by every Republican and Democrat President since Eisenhower. The Joint Chiefs were for it, and our nuclear experts said tests werent necessary to check the reliability of our weapons. But we didnt have the votes of two-thirds of the senators necessary to ratify the treaty, and Trent Lott tried to get me to promise not to raise it for the rest of my term. I couldnt figure out whether the Senate Republicans had really moved that far to the right of their own partys traditional position or just didnt want to give me another victory. Regardless, their refusal to ratify the test ban treaty weakened Americas ability to argue that other nations shouldnt develop or test nuclear weapons.
I continued doing political events for Al Gore and the Democrats, including two with gay activists who were strongly supportive of both Al and me because of the substantial number of openly gay and lesbian citizens serving in the administration, and because of our strong support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the hate crimes bill, which made crimes committed against people because of their race, disability, or sexual orientation a federal offense. I also went to New York whenever I could to support Hillary. Her likely opponent was New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a combative, controversial figure but was much less conservative than the national Republicans. I had had a cordial relationship with him, largely because of our shared support for the COPS program and gun safety measures.
George W. Bush seemed well on his way to winning the Republican nomination, as several of his challengers dropped out, leaving only Senator John McCain with any chance of stopping him. I had been impressed with Bushs campaign since I first saw him articulate his compassionate conservative theme in a farm setting in Iowa. I thought it was a brilliant formulation, virtually the only argument he could make to swing voters against an administration with approval ratings in the 65 percent range. He couldnt dispute the fact that we had 19 million new jobs, the economy was still growing, and crime was down for the seventh year in a row. Instead, his compassionate conservative message to the swing voters was this: Ill give you the same good conditions you have now, with a smaller government and a bigger tax cut. Wouldnt you like that? On most issues, Bush was in line with the conservative congressional Republicans, though he had criticized their budget for being harsh to the poor because it raised taxes for low-income Americans by cutting back on the Earned Income Tax Credit, while reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
Although Bush was a formidable politician, I still thought Al Gore would win, despite the fact that only two previous vice presidents, Martin Van Buren and George H. W. Bush, had been elected directly from the vice presidency, because the country was in good shape and our administration had strong support. All vice presidents who run for President have two problems: most people dont know what theyve done and dont give them credit for the accomplishments of the administration, and they tend to get typecast as number two men. I had done everything I could to help Al avoid those problems by giving him many high-profile assignments and making sure he received public recognition for his invaluable contribution to our successes. Yet even though he was indisputably the most active and influential vice president in history, there was still a gap between perception and reality.
The biggest challenge Al faced was how to show independence while still getting the benefit of our record. He had already said he disagreed with my personal misconduct but was proud of what we had accomplished for the American people. Now I thought he should say that no matter who became the next President, change was inevitable; the question for the voters was whether we would keep changing in the right way or make a U-turn to the failed policies of the past. Governor Bush was clearly advocating a return to trickle-down economics. We had tried it that way for twelve years and our way for seven. Our way worked better, and we had the evidence to prove it.
The campaign gave Al the chance to remind voters that I was leaving, but that the Republicans who had pursued impeachment and supported Starr were staying. America needed a President to stand up to them so that they couldnt abuse their power like that again, or succeed in implementing the harsh policies I had stopped in the budget battles, beginning with the government shutdown. There was ample evidence, less than a year old, that if the voters saw the election as a choice for the future and were reminded of what the Republicans had done, the advantage would shift markedly to the Democrats.
When a few people in the press began pushing the theory that I could cost Al the election, I had a funny telephone conversation with him about it. I said I was interested only in his winning, and if I thought it would help I would stand on the doorstep of the Washington Posts headquarters and let him lash me with a bullwhip. He deadpanned, Maybe we ought to poll that. I laughed and said, Lets see whether it works better with my shirt on or off.
On October 12, Pakistans prime minister Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in a military coup headed by General Musharraf, who had led the Pakistani armed forces over the Line of Control in Kashmir. I was concerned about the loss of democracy, and urged the restoration of civilian rule as soon as possible. Musharrafs ascendancy had one immediate consequence: the program to send Pakistani commandos into Afghanistan to catch or kill Osama bin Laden was canceled.
In mid-month, Ken Starr announced he was stepping down. Judge Sentelles panel replaced him with Robert Ray, who was on Starrs staff and before that had been on the staff of Donald Smaltz during the failed attempt to convict Mike Espy. Near the end of my term, Ray wanted his pound of flesh, too: a written statement admitting that I had given false testimony in my deposition, and an agreement to accept a temporary suspension of my law license in return for Rays shutting down the independent counsels investigation. I doubted that he would actually indict me, given the fact that a bipartisan panel of prosecutors had testified at the impeachment proceedings that no responsible prosecutor would do so. But I was ready to get on with my life and didnt want to complicate Hillarys new life in politics. However, I couldnt agree to intentionally giving false testimony because I didnt believe I had. After carefully rereading my deposition and finding a couple of instances in which I gave answers that were not accurate, I gave Ray a statement that said that though I had tried to testify lawfully, some of my responses were false. He accepted the statement. After almost six years and $70 million in tax money, Whitewater was over.
Not everyone wanted a pound of flesh. In the middle of the month, I invited my high school classmates to the White House for our thirty-fifth high school reunionas I had done five years earlier, for our thirtieth. I had loved my high school years and always enjoyed seeing my classmates. On this occasion several of them told me that their lives had gotten better over the last seven years. The son of one of them said that he thought I had been a good president, but the most proud I ever was of you was when you stood up to that impeachment thing. I heard that often from people whod felt helpless in the face of their own mistakes and misfortunes; somehow the fact that I had just kept going struck a chord with them, because thats what they had had to do.
At the end of the month, a Senate filibuster killed campaign finance reform again; we marked the fifth anniversary of AmeriCorps, in which 150,000 Americans had now served; Hillary and I held a White House Conference on Philanthropy in the hope of increasing the amount and impact of charitable giving; and we celebrated her birthday with a Broadway for Hillary event reminiscent of what Broadway stars had done for me back in 1992.
I began November by going to Oslo, where the negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians had begun, to observe the fourth anniversary of Yitzhak Rabins assassination, honor his memory, and join with the parties in rededicating ourselves to the peace process. Norwegian prime minister Kjell Bondevik had decided that an Oslo event might move the process forward. Our ambassador, David Hermelin, an irrepressible man of Norwegian-Jewish descent, tried to do his part by serving kosher hot dogs to both Barak and Arafat. Shimon Peres and Leah Rabin were there, too. The event had the desired effect, though I was convinced that both Barak and Arafat already wanted to complete the peace process and would do so in 2000.
Around this time several members of the press began to ask me about my legacy. Would I be known for bringing prosperity? For being a peacemaker? I tried to formulate an answer that captured not only concrete achievements but also the sense of possibility and community I wanted America to embody. The truth is, though, I didnt have time to think about such things. I wanted to press ahead until the last day. The legacy would take care of itself, probably long after I was dead.
On November 4, I began another New Markets tour, this time to Newark, Hartford, and Hermitage, Arkansas, the little town I had helped get living facilities for its migrant tomato workers in the late seventies. The tour ended in Chicago with Jesse Jackson and Speaker Hastert, who had decided to support the initiative. Jesse was looking resplendent in a fine pin-striped suit, and I kidded him about dressing up like a Republican today for the Speaker. I was encouraged by Hasterts support and confident we would pass legislation in the coming year.
In the second week of the month, I joined Al From for the first online presidential town hall meeting. Since I had been President, the number of Web sites had grown from 50 sites to 9 million, and new pages were being added at a rate of 100,000 per hour. The voice recognition software that converted my responses to type is routine today but was novel then. Two people asked me what I was going to do after I left the White House. I hadnt figured it all out yet, but I had begun to make plans for my presidential library.
I had thought a lot about the library and its exhibits on my years as President. Each President has to raise all the funds to build his library, plus an endowment to maintain the facility. The National Archives then provides the staff to organize and care for its contents. I had pored over the work of several architects and had visited many of the presidential libraries. The overwhelming majority of people who visit them come to see the exhibits, but the building has to be built in a way that preserves the records. I wanted the exhibit space to be open, beautiful, and full of light, and I wanted the material presented in a way that demonstrated Americas movement into the twenty-first century.
I chose Jim Polshek and his firm as my architects, largely because of his design for the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York, a huge glass-and-steel structure with a massive globe inside. I asked Ralph Applebaum to do the exhibits, because I thought his work on the Holocaust Museum in Washington was the best I had ever seen. I had already begun working with both of them. Before it was over, Polshek would say I was the worst client he had ever had: if he came to see me after a six-month hiatus with only a minor change in the drawings, I would notice and ask him about it.
I wanted to situate the library in Little Rock because I felt I owed it to my native state and because I thought the library should be in the heartland of America where people who didnt travel to Washington or New York would have direct access to it. The city of Little Rock, on the initiative of Mayor Jim Dailey and city board member Dr. Dean Kumpuris, had offered twenty-seven acres of land along the Arkansas River in the old section of town, which was being revitalized and was not far from the Old State Capitol, the scene of so many important events in my life.
Beyond the library, I knew that I wanted to write a book about my life and the presidency and that I would have to work hard for three or four years to pay my legal bills, buy our hometwo homes, if Hillary won the Senate raceand put aside some money for her and Chelsea. Then I wanted to devote the rest of my life to public service. Jimmy Carter had made a real difference in his post-presidential years, and I thought I could, too.
In mid-month, on the day I left for a ten-day trip to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, and Kosovo, I hailed Kofi Annans announcement that President Glafcos Clerides of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would begin proximity talks in New York in early December. Cyprus had received its independence from the UK in 1960. In 1974, the president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, was deposed in a coup orchestrated by the Greek military regime. In response, the Turkish military sent troops to the island to protect the Turkish Cypriots, dividing the country and creating a de facto Turkish enclave of independence in the north. Many Greeks in the north of Cyprus left their homes and moved south. The island had been divided ever since, and tensions had remained high between Turkey and Greece. Greece wanted to end the Turkish military presence in Cyprus and find a resolution that would at least allow the Greeks the possibility of returning to the north. I had tried for years to solve the problem and hoped the secretary-generals effort would succeed. It did not, and I would leave office disappointed that Cyprus remained an obstacle to Greek-Turkish reconciliation and to Turkeys being fully embraced by Europe.
We also finally reached agreement with the Republican leadership on three of my important budget priorities: funding the 100,000 new teachers, doubling the number of children in after-school programs, and, at long last, paying our back dues to the United Nations. Somehow, Madeleine Albright and Dick Holbrooke had worked it out with Jesse Helms and the other UN skeptics. It took Dick longer than making peace in Bosnia, but Im not sure anyone else could have done it.
Hillary, Chelsea, and I arrived in Turkey for a five-day visit, an unusually long stay. I wanted to support the Turks in the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes, and to encourage them to continue to work with the United States and Europe. Turkey was a NATO ally and was hoping to be admitted to the European Union, a development I had been strongly supporting for years. It was one of a handful of countries whose future course would have a large impact on the twenty-firstcentury world. If it could resolve the Cyprus problem with Greece, reach an accommodation with its restive and sometimes repressed Kurdish minority, and maintain its identity as a secular Muslim democracy, Turkey could be the Wests gateway to a new Middle East. If peace in the Middle East fell victim to a rising tide of Islamic extremism, a stable, democratic Turkey could be a bulwark against its spread into Europe.
I was glad to see President Demirel again. He was a large-minded man who wanted Turkey to be a bridge between East and West. I made my pitch for that vision to Prime Minister Blent Ecevit and to the Turkish Grand National Assembly, urging them to reject isolationism and nationalism by resolving their problems with the Kurds and Greece and moving toward EU membership.
The next day I made the same arguments to American and Turkish business leaders in Istanbul, after a stop at a tent city near Izmit to meet with earthquake victims. We visited with some of the families who had lost everything, and I thanked all the nations that had helped the victims, including Greece. Not long after the Turkish quakes, Greece had an earthquake of its own, and the Turks had returned the favor. If earthquakes could bring them together, they should be able to work together when the ground stopped moving.
My whole trip became defined for the Turks by the visit to the quake victims. When I held a young child in my arms, he reached up and grabbed my nose, just as Chelsea used to do when she was a toddler. A photographer got a shot of it, and the picture was in all the Turkish papers the next day. One of them carried it with the headline, Hes a Turk!
After my family visited the ruins of Ephesus, including one of the largest libraries in the Roman world and an open amphitheater where St. Paul had preached, I participated in a meeting of the fifty-fournation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which had been organized in 1973 to advance democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. We were there to support the Stability Pact for the Balkans and a resolution of the continuing crisis in Chechnya that would end the terrorism against Russia and the excessive use of force against noncombatant Chechens. I also signed an agreement with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia committing the United States to support the development of two pipelines that would carry oil from the Caspian Sea to the West without going through Iran. Depending on what kind of future Iran chose to pursue, the pipeline agreement could prove to be of enormous consequence to the future stability of both the producing and consuming countries.
I was fascinated by Istanbul and its rich history as the capital of both the Ottoman Empire and the Roman Empire in the East. In another attempt to promote reconciliation, I visited the ecumenical patriarch of all the Orthodox churches, Bartholomew of Constantinople, and asked the Turks to reopen the Orthodox monastery in Istanbul. The patriarch gave me a beautiful scroll inscribed with what he knew was one of my favorite scriptural passages, from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. It begins, Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
While I was in Turkey, the White House and Congress reached a budget agreement that, in addition to my education initiatives, provided funding for more police, the Lands Legacy initiative, our commitments under the Wye River accord, and the new debt-relief initiative for the poorest countries. The Republicans also agreed to give up their most damaging anti-environmental riders to the appropriation bills.
There was also good news in Northern Ireland, where George Mitchell had reached an agreement with the parties to proceed simultaneously with a new government and decommissioning with the support of Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern. Bertie was with me in Turkey when we heard the news.
In Athens, after a thrilling early-morning tour of the Acropolis with Chelsea, and a public expression of regret over Americas support of the repressive anti-democratic regime that took control of Greece in 1967, I reaffirmed my commitment to a fair resolution to the Cyprus problem as a condition of Turkeys EU membership and thanked Prime Minister Costas Simitis for staying with the allies in Kosovo. Because the Greeks and Serbs shared the Orthodox faith, it had been difficult for him. I left the meeting encouraged by the prime ministers openness to reconciliation with Turkey and its entry into the EU if the Cyprus problem could be resolved, in part because the two countries foreign ministers, George Papandreou and Ismael Cem, were young, forward-looking leaders who were working together for a common futurethe only course that made sense.
From Greece, I flew to Florence, where Prime Minister DAlema hosted another of our Third Way conferences. This one had a distinctly Italian flavor, as Andrea Bocelli sang at the dinner and Academy Awardwinning actor Roberto Benigni kept us in stitches. He and DAlema were a well-matched pairtwo lean, intense, passionate men who were always finding something to laugh about. When I met Benigni, he said, I love you! and jumped into my arms. I was thinking that maybe I should run for office in Italy; I had always loved it there.
This was by far our most substantive Third Way meeting. Tony Blair, EU president Romano Prodi, Gerhard Schroeder, Henrique Cardoso, and French prime minister Lionel Jospin were all there as we worked to articulate a progressive consensus for domestic and foreign policies in the twenty-first century, and for reforms in the international financial system to minimize financial crises and intensify our efforts to spread the benefits and reduce the burdens of globalization.
On the twenty-second, Chelsea and I flew to Bulgaria, which I was the first American President to visit. In a speech to more than thirty thousand people in the shadow of the brightly lit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, I pledged Americas support for their hard-won freedom, their economic aspirations, and their partnership with NATO.
My last stop before going home for Thanksgiving was in Kosovo, where Madeleine Albright, Wes Clark, and I got a roaring welcome. I spoke to a group of citizens who kept interrupting my speech by shouting my name. I hated to break the mood, but I tried to get them to listen to my plea not to take out resentment over past wrongs by retaliating against the Serb minority, a point I made privately to the leaders of various factions in Kosovar politics. Later that day I went to Camp Bondsteel to thank the troops and share an early Thanksgiving dinner with them. They were clearly proud of what they had done, but Chelsea was a bigger hit with the young soldiers than I was.
While we were on the trip, I sent Charlene Barshefsky and Gene Sperling to China to try to close the deal for Chinas entry into the WTO. The agreement had to be good enough to enable us to pass legislation establishing permanent normal trade relations with China. Genes presence would ensure that the Chinese knew that I was supporting the negotiations. The negotiations were difficult until the very end, when we got the protections against dumping and import surges and access to the automobile market that earned the support of Michigan Democratic congressman Sandy Levin. His support ensured congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations and thus Chinas entry into the WTO. Gene and Charlene had done a great job.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, David Trimbles Ulster Unionist Party approved the new peace agreement, and the new Northern Ireland government was formed with David Trimble as first minister and Seamus Mallon from John Humes SDLP as deputy first minister. Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness was named education minister. It would have been unthinkable not long before.
In December, when the members of the World Trade Organization met in Seattle, violent protests from anti-globalization forces rocked the downtown area. Most of the demonstrators were peaceful, however, and had legitimate grievances, as I told the convention delegates. The process of interdependence probably could not be reversed, but the WTO would have to be more open, and more sensitive to trade and environmental issues, and the wealthy countries that benefited from globalization would have to do more to bring its benefits to the other half of the world that was still living on less than two dollars a day. After Seattle, there would be more demonstrations at international financial meetings. I was convinced they would continue until we addressed the concerns of those who felt left out and left behind.
Early in December, I was able to announce that after seven years our economy had now created more than twenty million new jobs, 80 percent of them in job categories paying above our median wage, with the lowest African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates ever recorded and the lowest female unemployment rate since 1953, when a far smaller percentage of women were in the workforce.
On December 6, I had a special visitor: eleven-year-old Fred Sanger, from St. Louis. Fred and his parents came to see me with representatives of the Make-a-Wish foundation, which helps seriously ill children fulfill their wishes. Fred had heart problems that required him to stay indoors a lot. He watched the news and knew a surprising amount about my work. We had a good conversation and stayed in touch for some time afterward. During my eight years in office, the Make-a-Wish people brought forty-seven children to see me. They always brightened my day and reminded me why I had wanted to be President.
In the second week of the month, after a telephone conversation with President Assad, I announced that, within a week, Israel and Syria would resume their negotiations in Washington at a site to be determined, with the goal of reaching an agreement as soon as possible.
On the ninth, I went back to Worcester, Massachusetts, the city that had welcomed me in the dark days of August 1998, for the funeral of six firefighters who had been killed in action. The heartbreaking tragedy had galvanized the community and all of Americas firefighters; hundreds of them from across the country and several from overseas filled the citys convention center, a poignant reminder that the mortality rate of firemen is even higher than that of police officers.
A week later at the FDR Memorial, I signed the legislation that extended Medicare and Medicaid benefits to disabled people in the workforce. It was the most important piece of legislation for the disabled community since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, allowing otherwise uninsurable people with AIDS, muscular dystrophy, Parkinsons, diabetes, or crippling injuries to buy into the Medicare program. The law would change the quality of life for countless people who would now be able to earn an income and enhance the quality of their lives. It was a tribute to the hard work of disability activists, especially my friend Justin Dart, a wheelchair-bound Wyoming Republican who was never without his cowboy hat and boots.
All during the Christmas season we were looking forward to New Years Eve and the new millennium. For the first time in many years, our family would miss Renaissance Weekend to stay in Washington for the millennium celebration. It was all privately funded; my friend Terry McAuliffe raised several million dollars so that we could offer citizens a chance to enjoy the festivities, which included two days of public family activities at the Smithsonian Institution, and on the thirty-first a childrens celebration in the afternoon and a concert on the Mall produced by Quincy Jones and George Stevens, with a big fireworks display. We also had a large dinner at the White House, filled with fascinating people from literary, artistic, musical, academic, military, and civic circles, and a long dance after the fireworks on the Mall.
It was a wonderful evening, but I was nervous the entire time. Our security team had been on high alert for weeks due to numerous intelligence reports that the United States would be hit with several terrorist attacks. Particularly since the embassy bombings in 1998, I had been focused intently on bin Laden and his al Qaeda supporters. We had rolled up a score of al Qaeda cells, captured terrorist operatives, broken up plots against us, and continued to urge Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to press Afghanistan give bin Laden up. Now, with this new warning, Sandy Berger convened all of my top national security staff in the White House virtually every day for a month.
One man with bomb-making materials was arrested crossing the Canadian border in Washington State; he had planned to bomb the Los Angeles airport. Two terrorist cells in the Northeast and one in Canada were discovered and broken up. Planned attacks in Jordan were thwarted. The millennium came to America with lots of celebration and no terror, a tribute to the hard work of thousands of people, and perhaps to a bit of luck as well. Regardless, as the new year, the new century, and the new millennium began, I was filled with joy and gratitude. Our country was in excellent shape, and we were moving into the new era in good condition.