Sen. Clinton at the NAA
I want to mention some extracts from Sen. Clinton's speech yesterday to the Newspaper Association of America's Annual Conference starting with this funny bit at the beginning (emphasis mine, throughout this post):
First, I want to say that this speech is entirely off the record. Well, you know that those days are long gone. And I am delighted to be back here once again. I was listening to Gilbert introduce me and talk about what I said back in 2004 and how times have certainly changed.
But I want to thank newspaper publishers collectively for one of my favorite headlines of all time, which has given me great strength and encouragement over the last months, "Dewey Beats Truman. And I often recall it as I'm travelling from place to place around our country.
Her comments on George W. Bush:
Unfortunately, our current president does not seem to understand the basic character of the office he holds. Rather than faithfully execute the laws, he has rewritten them through signing statements, ignored them through secret legal opinions, undermined them by elevating ideology over facts. Rather than defending the Constitution, he has defied its principles and traditions. He has abused his power while failing to understand its purpose.
This administration's unbridled ambition to transform the executive into an imperial presidency in an attempt to strengthen the office has weakened our nation. It has corrupted and corroded our moral authority and brought our prestige and reputation to its lowest ebb. The president has failed to use the power of the presidency, the power he sought to inflate, to expand opportunity and make a real difference in people's lives.
This president seems to believe it's a good day in the White House when the government does little for ordinary Americans. That is how this administration defines the presidency: limited government, but unlimited power.
Well, I have a different view.
I believe in the power of the presidency to set big goals for America and to solve the problems of Americans, to ensure that our people have the tools they need to turn challenges into opportunities, to fulfill their God-given potential, and to build better lives for themselves and their children. That's the kind of president I will be every day in the White House, whether the issue is health care or child care, foreign policy, or the future of our economy.
Why she is running for office:
I am running for president because I believe in the promise of America and I believe in the power of the presidency to help fulfill that promise. Now, that's not a sound bite. It's what I have learned, experienced and intended, as best I could, throughout my life. I've had many opportunities. I've been blessed. And I understand that those blessings came from the hard work of my parents, my teachers, others in the village that surrounded and helped to nurture and raise me; my church, which helped to guide me; and, of course, the positive actions of my government that directly affected my life.
As a young girl, I could not go to certain colleges, compete for certain scholarships, participate, if I'd had the sporting ability, in certain sports, or obtain some kind of financial aid for playing them. There were certain jobs that were closed to me and other young women. And the horizons were not quite as broad as those for my brothers. I grew up in a middle-class family, at a time when our nation was investing in the middle class.
After World War II, my father started a small business, saved up enough money to purchase a home. He, like so many veterans coming back from World War II, were anxious to get on with their lives. He moved us to a suburb where he paid taxes for better schools, and where our nation made unprecedented investments in public education.
I was able to go to college and then to law school because the federal government wanted to make investments in young people. And so, when I went to law school, unable to get any financial help from my family, I worked, I had a small scholarship, and I borrowed money from the federal government at about 2% interest. And I and so many others had a chance to pursue our academic dreams because our government wanted us to.
As I have seen over the last years in public life as a Senator from New York and now as a candidate for the presidency how many families and how many young people don’t have any confidence or any reason to believe that their government cares about their future. I believe that we have to change that. The magnitude of the problems be fore us present a unique challenge and chance to bring this generation of Americans together, to fulfill our common purpose. And finding the nation to do so is the responsibility of our president.
What she will do if she becomes President:
I will bring most of my time in the White House and now my time in the Senate, some critical lessons to the presidency. First, I will restore faith in our government by resorting integrity to our government. For seven years, this administration has exhibited ideological disdain for government. And because they view government with contempt, they treat it with contempt. They don’t believe government can or should be a source for the public interest, so they treat it as a source of favors for private interests.
As president I will restore an old-fashioned idea - appointing qualified people to positions in government again. I will immediately begin implementing an agenda of reform to end no-bid contracts, to close the revolving door between public sector work and private sector lobbying, to restore fiscal responsibility, to modernize our government, and to open its books to greater scrutiny.
Second, I will restore openness in government. When I am president, the era of Bush/Cheney secrecy will be over. On April 27th, 1961, President Kennedy addressed one of the predecessors of this association, the American Newspaper Publishers Association. The failed invasion of Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs had taken place just one week before. President Kennedy spoke of the threat threatening the United States. He wrestled publicly with the basic tension that exists whenever our security is threatened between the government’s responsibility to keep some secrets and the public’s right to know. But he understood the importance of openness to the integrity and vitality of government even in the aftermath of his own failures. He said, "There is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions." Just days after an embarrassing failure, the president of the United States came before your predecessors, begged for scrutiny, and challenged the nation to mobilize without compromising democratic values.
That kind of open leadership has been sorely lacking these past seven years. In fact the Bush administration has dramatically widened the definition of classified information to shield more and more materials from public scrutiny, has widened the scope of the states secrets privilege to shield this program from judicial review, and has widened the reach of executive privilege to shield its activated from Congress. From warrantless wiretaps at home to secret prisons overseas, the Bush administration has conducted illegal activities and stonewalled efforts of the people and the Congress to discover them and to hold the administration accountable.
When I am president I will empower the federal government to operate from a presumption of openness, not secrecy. That’s why I am a co-sponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act, allowing reporters to protect sources, help insure that whistle blowers can blow the whistle, and you can keep the public informed and keep office holders accountable.
I will direct my administration to prevent needless classification of information that ought to be shared with the public. We will adopt a presumption of openness and Freedom of Information Act requests and urge agencies to release information quickly if disclosure will do no harm. It was Attorney General Janet Reno’s approach, and it will be my Attorney General’s approach, as well.
Third, because solving problems starts by recognizing facts, I will restore evidence based decision making to our government. A free and open society depends upon evidence based inquiry. Shortly after I arrived in the Senate, it became abundantly clear to me that the White House had very little interest in facts or evidence and I started saying in speeches on the floor and in other settings that they wanted to turn Washington into an evidence-free zone. Unfortunately, they have succeeded all too well and we will have to reverse that.
This administration has also waged a war on science; rewriting scientific reports, allowing politicians to overrule and silence government researchers, politicizing important decisions affecting our environment and our public health. I will stop political appointees from manipulating the government’s scientific conclusions and prevent the suppression of public statements from government scientists. I will put in place new whistleblower protections for scientists who step forward to protest political interference. Our government will once again value and encourage scientific discovery and open inquiry, and we will regain our place as the world’s leading innovation nation.
Fourth, because government abuse is checked by the separation of powers, I will restore respect for our co-equal branches of government. I’ll start by limiting the excessive executive powers this president has accumulated, like the unilateral power to wiretap, or detain try people, even American citizens. I will work with Congress again as a partner to solve problems. I’ll end the use of signing statements to rewrite the laws that Congress has passed. I’ll shut down Guantanamo, disavow torture and restore the right of Habeas Corpus.
I will end the practice of using executive privilege as a shield against the public’s right to know and congress’ duty to oversee the president.
Finally I will make crystal clear that the president and the executive branch will comply with the laws of our nation. My Department of Justice will interpret those laws fairly accurately honestly and publically. We’ll release Justice Department interpretations so that you know exactly what our understanding is and how laws are being executed. The President is not above the law in our system of government and we need to make that absolutely clear starting next year. These changes both represent and drive the transformation I believe is needed in our government starting on day one of my administration. I do not believe that power is an end in itself but a means. A means limited in scope of serving the interest and protecting the safety of our nation, while creating opportunity for our people.
What she will do in her first 100 days:
But the question before us is deeper than how the next president will restore our government and our Constitution. The question is how the next president will employ our government. I am here and I am running for president because I have seen the promise of America and I do understand the promise of the presidency and on day one I will bring my hard won experience, whatever strength and knowledge I posses to fulfill that promise. I will start by trying to live up to the model described by teddy Roosevelt - "All that in me lies to do will be done to make my work a success." And I plan to hit the ground running starting on day one and throughout my first 100 days.
During that time I will call on congress to send to my desk the bills the president vetoed, from supporting stem cell research to expanding Children’s Health Care and I will sign them, allowing scientists to better explore the promise of new cures for disease- diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and so much else. And we will provide health insurance for millions more of our children as a down payment on achieving health care for all Americans with no exceptions.
My administration will call together meeting of mortgage lenders, banks, community organizations and regulators to negotiate an immediate freeze on foreclosures, because so many Americans are hurting and the projection is that more than 2 million families will be foreclosed on this year. I will call for a timeout on new trade agreements and review all existing trade agreements and I will call on Canada and Mexico to work with me to renegotiate NAFTA.
My budget to congress will restore fiscal sanity while cutting taxes for middle class families to the tune of 100 billion dollars a year, ending tax breaks for oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies, Wall Street and others to the tune of 55 billion dollars a year.
I will work with Congress to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill.
My administration convene a summit within 100 days to negotiate a new climate change treaty to replace Kyoto and one that includes China, India and other rapidly developing and very big green house gas emitting nations. I will work with the Congress to submit a comprehensive energy bill that will move us toward ending our dependence on foreign oil and increasing the percentage of renewable fuels we use to produce electricity.
I will overturn the global gag rule to allow nongovernmental organizations to practice free speech and use other funding sources to provide women with access to the full range of reproductive health care around the world.
I will call a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and demand that the Pentagon draw up plans to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq responsibly and carefully starting within 60 days of my inauguration. I will reach out to the rest of the world and ask distinguished Americans of both parties to be emissaries on our behalf traveling across the globe telling both governments and people that the united states is willing once again to work with you to try to find common ground on our problems from global warming to global terrorism to global epidemics.
I will sign executive orders ending the war on science, ordering the closure of Guantanamo, reversing many of the anti-labor provisions that President Bush adopted and looking very clearly at what we have to do to rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class in our country.
In short, starting from day one, the Bush-Cheney era will be over in name and in practice. We are fortunate in our country that we get to overturn our government peacefully and thoroughly. The question is the path we select at such an important juncture. I know this campaign has gone on a long time, but elections do end and when the campaigns conclude and the banners are town down and the speeches are finally finished, all that’s left is the choice we have made.
More in her full speech.