Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Clinton Talks Like a Centrist at Cooper Union

Hotline On Call has the full text of former president Clinton's speech at Cooper Union's commencement today. Quite an interesting and - if I may say so - good speech. Some excerpts follow:

"Too often in the past twenty-five years our elections and political discourse have been marked by the triumph of personal attacks, baseless or irrelevant assertions, and blind ideology over evidence argument. Too often the purpose of an election has been to concentrate wealth and power by dividing the public and diverting our attention away from pressing problems to matters that excite deep political passions but that will take up less than 1% of a candidate's time if he or she is elected.

But all the attacks, accusations, and ideological diatribes cannot make the facts go away. They matter. So do thinking, reasoning, and honest respectful arguing, especially when the problems and solutions are complex.

... The great challenge of the 21st century is to build up the positive force of interdependence and reduce the negative ones, and in so doing, to build more integrated communities, locally, nationally, globally. Integrated communities require three things: shared responsibilities, shared opportunities, and shared values - everyone deserves a chance and has a responsible role to play; competition is good but we do better when we work together; are differences matters, making life more interesting and the search for answers more promising, but our common humanity matters more.

... [P]olitics and government remain profoundly important. We cannot hope to move from the present unequal and unstable state of interdependence to integrated national and global communities if we continue to fight elections on narrow grounds, with tactics assured to produce more heat than light, and to divide us into warring camps, incapable of principled compromise.

I believe the American people know this. The deep yearning for a larger, unifying politics explains at least in part the strong positive reaction former President Bush and I have received for our work together in the aftermath of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. It explains why lawmakers like my wife and Senator McCain are trying to find common ground on climate change, and why Hillary has reached out to Republicans as well as Democrats to find common solutions to our healthcare problem, the loss of manufacturing jobs, and the needs of our men and women in uniform."


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