In the midst of his presidency?s darkest hour, Bill Clinton truly has made his greatest showing. Tuesday?s State of the Union address easily can be called his greatest to date, and serves as a strong reminder that, despite the storm surrounding the White House, the president still is committed and enthusiastic about preparing America for the 21st century.
With his usual smooth delivery and upbeat tone, the president reported that ?the state of our union is strong,? and outlined his plans for several new programs and initiatives that will make it even stronger.
One of the main areas he touched on was his favorite: education. A comprehensive set of proposals to shrink class sizes, rebuild old school buildings, make schools safer, expand after-school programs and even end ?social promotion? of unqualified students to the next grade. Though the federal government cannot be expected to solve all of the problems in American education, the president has shown he is committed to make sure it does its part.
The president, as he well should, spent considerable time touting the rapid progress his administration and the Congress have made toward balancing the budget. In the midst of this he suggested that any surplus generated in the federal budget during the next few years be used to shore up the Social Security system. This fairly unconventional proposal has been endorsed by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and will serve to fulfill the president?s promise to working people of all ages that ?Social Security will be there when you need it.?
Clinton, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, also made a strong statement on foreign policy. To Saddam Hussein he said, ?You have used weapons of mass destruction before.
We are determined to deny you the capability to use them again.? He also pledged to continue the United States? active role in world politics and his intent to maintain our position as leaders in the global economy. Perhaps the most controversial of his statements on foreign policy was his announcement that ?it is long past time that we make good on our debt to the United Nations.?
Overall, the president appears to have renewed his commitment to progressive, responsibly financed programs that will strengthen the future of the nation without any growth in the deficit or unnecessary bureaucracy. One can only hope that the people of the United States will remember what a dedicated and productive public servant Bill Clinton is as they form their opinions on what the future of his presidency should be.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in international relations.