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like father like clown

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:03:10
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In response to my attacks, Newt Gingrich threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit and thus put America in default if I vetoed their budget bills. Raising the debt limit was merely a technical act that recognized the inevitable: as long as America continued to run deficits, the annual debt would increase, and the government would be required to sell more bonds to finance it. Increasing the debt limit simply gave the Treasury Department authority to do that. As long as Democrats were in the majority, Republicans could cast symbolic votes against raising the debt limit and pretend that they hadnt contributed to the necessity to do it. Many Republicans in the House had never voted to raise the debt limit and didnt relish doing so now, so I had to take Gingrichs threat seriously.

On August 19, my forty-ninth birthday, I started the day by playing golf with Vernon Jordan, Erskine Bowles, and Jim Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank. It was a perfect morning until I heard about what had happened on the Mount Igman road. First from a news report, and later in an emotional phone call with Dick Holbrooke and Wes Clark, I learned that our team had set out for Sarajevo with Holbrooke and Clark riding in a U.S. Army Humvee, and Frasure, Kruzel, and Drew following behind in a French armored personnel carrier (APC) painted UN white. About an hour into the trip, at the top of a steep incline, the road gave way on the APC, and it somersaulted down the mountain and exploded into flames. Besides the three members of our team, there were two other Americans and four French soldiers in the vehicle. The APC had caught fire when the live ammunition it was carrying exploded. In a brave attempt to help, Wes Clark rappelled down the mountain with a rope tied to a tree trunk and tried to get into the burning vehicle to rescue the men still trapped inside, but it was too damaged and scalding hot.

On the day my family went to Wyoming, Dick Holbrooke left for Bosnia with an impressive team, including Bob Frasure; Joe Kruzel; Air Force Colonel Nelson Drew; and Lieutenant General Wesley Clark, director of strategic policy for the Joint Chiefs and a fellow Arkansan I had first met at Georgetown in 1965.

For a brief moment I got her to think about the sand running out of the hourglass. She was working on her memoirs with a fine collaborator from Arkansas, James Morgan, and she had put her entire story on tape, but there were still several chapters in the drafting stage. I asked her what she wanted to happen if she didnt finish them. She smiled and said, Youre going to finish them, of course. I said, What are my instructions? She said I should check the facts, change anything that was wrong, and clarify anything that was confusing. But I want this to be my story in my words. So dont change it unless you think Ive been too hard on someone whos still alive. With that, she went back to discussing politics and her trip to Las Vegas.

Under our plan, Americans would be able to choose their own health plan and keep their own doctors, choices that were vanishing for more and more Americans whose insurance was carried by health maintenance organizations (HMOs), which tried to hold down costs by restricting patient choices and conducting extensive reviews before approving expensive treatments. Quality would be assured by the issuance of report cards on health-care plans to consumers, and the provision of more information to doctors. Responsibility would be enforced across the board against health insurance companies that wrongfully denied care, providers who padded their bills, drug companies that overcharged, lawyers who brought bogus suits, and citizens whose irresponsible choices weakened their health and exploded costs to everyone else.

I closed with an appeal for unity, getting a laugh when I reminded Congress that even Republicans and Democrats were genetically 99.9 percent the same. I said, Modern science has confirmed what ancient faiths have always taught: the most important fact of life is our common humanity.


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