Six and a half years after Bill Clinton won the presidency, the fine art of
triangulation has become de rigueur for candidates of both parties. If
you can neutralize your party's radical wing and co-opt the issues of
your opponents, Valhalla awaits. This tendency produces Republicans who
sound like Democrats and vice versa. As evidence we offer the speech
excerpts below. Some come from the stump speeches of Clinton heir apparent Al Gore; others come from the campaign juggernaut of George W. Bush. Which is which?
1) [The American] dream is so vivid -- but too many say: The dream is not for me.
Kids who turn schoolyards into battlefields. Children who corrupt their wills
and souls with drugs, who limit their ambitions by having children themselves.
Failed schools are creating two societies: one that reads and one that can't; one
that dreams and one that doesn't. These are the burdens on the conscience of a
successful nation. The next president must close this gap of hope. It is the
great challenge to America's good heart ... I will be an activist president, who
sets goals worthy of a great nation.
2) Government can help. We can pass laws to give schools and principals more
authority to discipline children and protect the peace of classrooms. We must
encourage states to reform their juvenile justice laws. We must say to our
children, "We love you, but discipline and love go hand in hand, and there will
be bad consequences for bad behavior."
3) I ask for your help to strengthen family life in America. And I make you
this pledge: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will marshal its authority,
its resources and its moral leadership to fight for America's families. With
your help, I will take my own values of faith and family to the presidency -- to
build an America that is not only better off, but better.
4) These are our deficits now: the time deficit in family life; the decency
deficit in our common culture; the care deficit for our little ones and our
elderly parents. Our families are loving but over-stretched. These deficits
cannot be measured in monthly economic tables, or even in the size of a family's
paycheck. To find them, you have to look harder at the places our statistics do
not describe: the dinner tables that sit empty, when working parents do not have
the time to share a meal with their children. The entertainment that glorifies
aggression and indecency, with lessons more vivid and overpowering than those in
the classroom. The schools where discipline is eroding -- and the school hallways
where guns and fear are becoming too common.
5) I will involve [people] in after-school programs, maternity group homes, drug
treatment, prison ministries. I will lay out specific incentives to encourage an
outpouring of giving in America.
6) There is a hunger and thirst for goodness among us. Just visible within a
generation's journey is a new horizon: a 21st century America with stronger
families, stronger communities and a more vital democracy -- in which we live
and govern according to our highest American ideals.
7) We'll be prosperous if we embrace free trade. I'll work to end tariffs and
break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world trades in freedom.
The fearful build walls. The confident demolish them. I am confident in American
workers and farmers and producers. And I am confident that America's best is the
best in the world.
8) Responsible men and women must make their own most personal decisions based
on their own consciences, not government interference. No executive action can
mend a broken family. No legislation can reconnect a parent to a child, or a
family to a grandparent. No proposal can change a culture that does not place
family life at the top of our hierarchy of values, where it belongs. So today, I
say to every parent in America: It is our own lives we must master if we are to
have the moral authority to guide our children. The ultimate outcome does not
rest in the hands of any president, but with all our people taking
responsibility for themselves, and for each other. So my first promise is to ask
you, each of you, to fulfill that American promise.
9) Sin accisn, las palabras no valen nada -- aunque sean bonitas. Mis amigos,
seguiremos, trabajando juntos, mano a mano, para el futuro de nuestras familias y