|Source:American Rhetoric- President William J. Clinton (Democrat, Arkansas) 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001)|
"My fellow citizens, tonight is my last opportunity to speak to you from the Oval Office as your President.
I am profoundly grateful to you for twice giving me the honor to serve, to work for you and with you to prepare our nation for the 21st century. And I'm grateful to Vice President Gore, to my Cabinet secretaries, and to all those who have served with me for the last eight years. This has been a time of dramatic transformation, and you have risen to every new challenge. You have made our social fabric stronger, our families healthier and safer, our people more prosperous.
You, the American people, have made our passage into the global information age an era of great American renewal. In all the work I have done as president, every decision I have made, every executive action I have taken, every bill I have proposed and signed, I've tried to give all Americans the tools and conditions to build the future of our dreams, in a good society, with a strong economy, a cleaner environment, and a freer, safer, more prosperous world. I have steered my course by our enduring values: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, a community of all Americans...
You can read the rest at American Rhetoric
"President William Jefferson Clinton's Farewell Address to the Nation. Delivered 18 January 2001. Audio corrected re-issue. Courtesy William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library. Complete transcript and audio at:American Rhetoric."
From American Rhetoric
Before Bill Clinton became President of the United States, Liberal Democrats in America were seen as something we are not. We had all sorts of negative stereotypes about us, not all of them unfair because there are Democrats back then and today who meet these stereotypes, but they just aren’t Liberal Democrats. And there’s a different and accurate term that defines their politics. But they just aren’t liberal, even though they have some liberal views on social issues.
Pre-President Clinton, Liberal Democrats were seen as tax and spend, big government supporters, Socialists. Who are soft on crime, soft on defense, soft on welfare. That we just wanted to soak the rich in taxes to take care of the poor. And soak the middle class in taxes to take care of them as well. That we wouldn’t do what was necessary to protect the country. And that we see the U.S. Constitution a document to use for advice. But that it wasn’t enforceable.
By the time President Clinton left office in 2001, Democrats were more trusted on law enforcement, national security, foreign policy, the economy, fiscal responsibility then Republicans who use to own these issues. And this didn’t happen by accident. Just within the first two years of the Clinton Presidency, President Clinton got a deficit reduction package through Congress. That had deep budget cuts and a tax hike on the wealthy.
President Clinton got two trade agreements through Congress as well. NAFA and GAT and got the 1994 Crime bill through Congress as well. That had the Brady bill on Handguns, meaning to buy a new handgun, you had to pass a background check. And new tough sentences on violent offenders. Including a Three Strikes Law, 25-Life for criminals convicted of violent felonies.
Presidents are judged by what shape the country was in when they took over and what shape the country was in when they left office. President George H.W. Bush by a lot of measures was a successful President. Especially on foreign policy, but the country was just coming out of recession with high unemployment, low economic growth, high interest rates and Inflation and a large Federal debt and deficit.
President Clinton also inherited a high crime rate when he took over in 1993 and all of those problems were either gone by 2001, or those problems were under control when he left office in 2001. And it didn’t happen by accident, because of the policies that the President got through Congress from 1993-95. But with also Welfare to Work in 1996, working with a Republican Congress.
President Clinton showed Americans that liberalism is not about being soft and irresponsible and that taxpayers will always cover the mistakes of others. That it was about individual liberty, the U.S. Constitution, and limited government. But that people also had to be held accountable for their decisions. And that America had to do what it takes within the U.S. Constitution to defend itself. And that government can help people who are down get on their feet and become self-sufficient. This is why President Clinton was such a successful President, the best President we’ve had since Harry Truman.