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Randomly Generated Public Paper from Today's Date in History
William J. Clinton: 1993-2001
Remarks at the Legislative Convention of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
March 23rd, 1999

The President. I ought to be late more often. [Laughter] Well, let me thank you for the wonderful welcome. And Gerry, Bill, Glenn, Charles, Caryl, ladies and gentlemen, it was— it's hard to believe—it's been 7 years ago when I first began talking to Gerry and Bill and other members of your union. I spent about 5 minutes with Gerry McEntee, and I thought, boy, this is going to be a hard sell. [Laughter] But I also thought to myself, I believe this guy would be for me; he'd stick. And boy does he stick. [Laughter] I tell you.

Even though I was a dues-paying member of AFSCME when I was Governor, I never— therefore, I knew who Gerry McEntee was, you know, and I sort of felt like I was getting my money's worth. [Laughter] There are a lot of things I didn't know—like, I never knew why green was the official color of AFSCME, until I saw the smile on McEntee's face on Saint Patrick's Day. [Laughter] And I realized that was not a democratically arrived-at decision. [Laughter] And being Irish, I liked it that way.

In a way, public employees and the Irish are a lot alike. They're integral to everything that's really important in our country, and both have had to fight real hard to get the necessary respect in the United States. And so I came here also to say thank you, thank you, thank you. I should be thanking you, not the other way around. All I did was what I told you I would do, but if you hadn't helped me, I wouldn't have been here in the first place. And I thank you.

I would also like to remind you that we have almost 25 percent of the life of this administration still left, and it ought to be the best part for America if we do the right things.

Now, you all know why I'm late today. I've been in a meeting with a very large number of Members of Congress in both Houses and both parties, including the leadership, to talk about the problem in Kosovo. And one of the Members who was there, a man from my part of the country, he said, "You know, Mr. President, I support your policy, but most of my folks couldn't find Kosovo on a map. They don't know where it is, and they never thought about it before it appeared on CNN. And you need to tell people what you're doing there and why—why it's important to us."

So I need to talk about that today. But I also need to talk about the domestic issues that we're working on, about Social Security, about Medicare, about education. And so I would like to begin by going back to 1992 and to try to ask you to do something that most of the time I can't persuade the American people to do, which is to think about our foreign policy and our domestic policy as two sides of the same coin in a world that is growing smaller and smaller and more and more interconnected.

Most Americans think about politics in terms of putting bread on the table, educating their children, owning a home, being able to have health care, looking forward to a secure retirement, dealing maybe with environmental issues that are immediate and real, like clean air and clean water. And we're all that way about everything, even our own jobs. The further something gets away from us, the harder it is for us to imagine that it is directly important to us.

But when I ran for President in 1992, one of the things I said over and over and over again was that in the 21st century the dividing line between foreign and domestic policy would blur. Now, I'd like to jus ...
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