Archive for Saturday, May 22, 2004

Clinton calls for civility

Bitterness in today’s politics lamented

May 22, 2004

Advertisement

The room was big and hot and many in the crowd were eager for an election-year lambaste of George W. Bush.

But former President Bill Clinton's speech Friday at Kansas University's Allen Fieldhouse was professorial instead of partisan, conciliatory instead of critical.

Former President Bill Clinton, left, and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole
look over the audience at Allen Fieldhouse before Clinton delivered
the inaugural Dole Lecture. In their remarks Friday, the two former
political rivals lamented the personal attacks in the U.S.
political landscape.<br>
<a href="http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html"
target="_new" onclick=
"window.open('http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html','Photo','height=450,width=450,screenX=10,screenY=10,' + 'scrollbars,resizable'); return false;">
<img src="http://www.ljworld.com/art/icons/icon_photo.gif" border=
"0" alt="photo">&nbsp;Photo gallery: Clinton delivers Dole
Lecture</a><br>

Former President Bill Clinton, left, and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole look over the audience at Allen Fieldhouse before Clinton delivered the inaugural Dole Lecture. In their remarks Friday, the two former political rivals lamented the personal attacks in the U.S. political landscape.<br> <a href="http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html" target="_new" onclick= "window.open('http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html','Photo','height=450,width=450,screenX=10,screenY=10,' + 'scrollbars,resizable'); return false;"> <img src="http://www.ljworld.com/art/icons/icon_photo.gif" border= "0" alt="photo">&nbsp;Photo gallery: Clinton delivers Dole Lecture</a><br>

Clinton, addressing a crowd of about 12,000 as the inaugural speaker in the Dole Institute of Politics' Dole Lecture series, said Americans haven't fully decided their role in the world in the aftermath of the Cold War.

"As long as we don't have that consensus, extremists will have more influence than they ought to, and politics will be more bitter than it should be," Clinton said.

He was repeatedly cheered and applauded by an enthusiastic audience that was a mix of Kansas University students, die-hard Democrats, dignitaries and others keen on seeing the two-term Democratic president who left office in 2001 with a 65 percent public approval rating.

No partisan finger-pointing

Among the Dole Institute's aims is to promote civility in public service and discourse. And Clinton sidestepped any partisan finger-pointing.

Dressed in a dark gray suit, white shirt and pink tie, he shared the podium with former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kan.

Once fierce rivals, Dole and Clinton became good friends after the 1996 election in which Dole lost to Clinton. The two have worked together on several humanitarian projects in recent years. After the lecture, Dole led the former president on a private tour of the west campus institute that bears Dole's name and tells his story.

Not one to pass up a wisecrack, Dole, while introducing Clinton at the fieldhouse, attributed his loss to Clinton's scheduling debates "past my bedtime." Dole, 80, is 23 years older than Clinton.



Would you be interested in seeing President Clinton speak when he comes to Lawrence?Steve Buckner "No, I think he's a very low form of life. I have no respect for him in any shape or form. My only concern is that he will be around college students and may end up influencing them."-- Dave Staab, self-employed, Lawrence

Poking fun at KU's reputation for being the state's hotbed of liberalism and his own conservatism, Dole said KU was "where I get more compliments and fewer votes than anywhere in Kansas."

Politics vs. friendship

Knowing he was in a Republican state that overwhelmingly supported Dole in 1996, Clinton jokingly said he appreciated the chance to appear before 90 percent of the Kansans who had voted for him. Later, after a particularly enthusiastic ovation, he said it could have been closer to 95 percent.

A Democratic presidential candidate hasn't carried Kansas since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Both Clinton and Dole mourned the bitterness that defines much of today's political discourse.

"There really was a time when political differences did not get in the way of friendship," Dole said, citing the deal-making abilities of former presidents John Kennedy and Johnson.

But Clinton said Americans and their leaders were largely unified in their view of the nation's role in the world during the Cold War -- until that consensus fell with the Berlin Wall.

He urged Americans to "get about the business" of reaching a new consensus on the nation's role during a period of rapid globalization.

'Fundamental questions'

"America is in one of those periods where we're trying to come to grips with fundamental questions," Clinton said.

Until that happens, he said, the nation's quest for "the more perfect union" envisioned by the Founding Fathers will be stalled in political bickering.

A long line stretched in front of Allen Fieldhouse before the doors
opened.<br>
<a href="http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html"
target="_new" onclick=
"window.open('http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html','Photo','height=450,width=450,screenX=10,screenY=10,' + 'scrollbars,resizable'); return false;">
<img src="http://www.ljworld.com/art/icons/icon_photo.gif" border=
"0" alt="photo">&nbsp;Photo gallery: Clinton delivers Dole
Lecture</a><br>

A long line stretched in front of Allen Fieldhouse before the doors opened.<br> <a href="http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html" target="_new" onclick= "window.open('http://etc.lawrence.com/galleries/clinton/2755_lores.html','Photo','height=450,width=450,screenX=10,screenY=10,' + 'scrollbars,resizable'); return false;"> <img src="http://www.ljworld.com/art/icons/icon_photo.gif" border= "0" alt="photo">&nbsp;Photo gallery: Clinton delivers Dole Lecture</a><br>

"When the Cold War was over and we saw the Industrial Age replaced by the Information Age, we changed the way we live and relate to each other and the rest of the world in ways that are both marvelous and frightening," Clinton said.

He compared the current partisanship with the partisanship in the late 18th century, just after the nation's founding.

"Go back and read what Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and their supporters said about each other," Clinton said. "After George Washington left the scene, who knew what America meant?"

The United States should join as many international groups and participate in as many international treaties as possible because the United States' status as the world's lone superpower, he said, will not last forever.

No Bush attack

He acknowledged that compromise with other nations often sacrificed Americans' freedom of action but said that at some point, America needed to realize, "You cannot kill, occupy or imprison all of your potential adversaries. You have to make a deal; that's what politics is. That's why compromise is honorable, not dishonorable."

During his 44-minute lecture, Clinton did not mention President Bush's name or criticize his handling of the war in Iraq.

Instead, he criticized those who attack Bush's motives, noting that despite Clinton's own opposition to the Vietnam War, he was "very uncomfortable" with those who accused Johnson of war mongering.

"I don't think President Johnson ever wanted one person to die (in Vietnam)," Clinton said. "I don't think he ever wanted anything but what he thought was right and best for America."

Clinton said nothing undercut civil debate more than questioning a person's motives.

Professor Clinton

When Clinton noted that questions had been raised about the Unites States' role in Iraq and whether more attention should be focused on Afghanistan, many in the audience, sensing a jab at Bush, applauded.

Fearing his message wasn't getting through, Clinton raised his hand, cutting off the crowd.

"This is thinking time, not cheering time," he said.

"You should have disagreements with your leaders and with your colleagues," he said. "But when it becomes repeatedly a question of questioning people's motives -- seeing the person you disagree with as a bad person -- we are not going to get very far in forming a more perfect union."


































photo Clinton calls for civility in speechtext Clinton calls for civilitytext For those attending, awe overcomes heattext Clinton fans show up early to get prime seatstext Fund-raiser energizes Democratstext Visit's costs add up for KUtext Other politicians have made stops at Mount Oreadtext Written transcript of Clinton's speechtext Breaking story- Clinton: Civility, compromise needed to meet world challenges (5-21-04)text Clinton visits with Jayhawkstext Blog: The Yellow Dog: The Big Dog Comes to Towntext Hopes high for lecturetext Other politicians have made stops at Mount Oreadtext Pardoned drug dealer gets chance to meet Clintonphoto Former Sen. Bob Dole introduces Clintonphoto 6News video: Clinton's lecture, part 1photo 6News video: Clinton's lecture, part 2photo 6News video: Clinton's lecture, part 3photo 6News video: Clinton's lecture, part 4photo 6News video: Clinton answers question on partisanshipphoto 6News video: Clinton discusses youth involvement in politicsphoto 6News video: Clinton answers question on racial equalityphoto Photo gallery: Clinton delivers Dole Lecturephoto Dole's introduction of Clintonphoto Clinton on his Jayhawk welcome (speech part 1)photo Clinton on the scholarship fund for 9-11 victims (speech part 2)photo Clinton on the purpose of disagreeing with leaders (speech part 3)photo Clinton on the U.S. making more friends and fewer enemies (speech part 4)photo Clinton on political cooperation in the U.S. government (question 1)photo Clinton on bringing young Americans into the political process (question 2)photo Clinton on race relations in the U.S. (question 3)photo 360-degree panorama view: Allen Fieldhouse during Clinton's speech

Commenting has been disabled for this item.