Remarks at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Bill. I can't think of anything better for a politician than to be introduced by a guy named "Headline." [Laughter]
Hillary and I are delighted to be here. I am told that this is by far the largest group of radio and television correspondents ever assembled this far from a Los Angeles courtroom. [Laughter] You know, the press is always asking me if I'm watching the O.J. trial, and Mike McCurry always has to say, "Oh, he's so busy with affairs of"—of course I watch it. [Laughter] And the other day I was watching it, and the camera zoomed in to Judge Ito's computer monitor. You've seen that, haven't you? There was an E-mail message on it from Wolf Blitzer begging for a recess. [Laughter]
You know, every year when I come here, even though I've only been here a couple of years, I recognize more and more faces. And now I'm getting so good at it I can tell when people are missing. [Laughter] This year, thanks to Mr. Armey and others, PBS couldn't afford a ticket for both MacNeil and Lehrer. [Laughter] I know that because Louis Rukeyser told me that when he checked my coat when I came in. [Laughter]
I'm trying to figure out what's going on here. I guess the rest of you are, too. I have puzzled over this Republican assault on affirmative action. You know, the Republicans started affirmative action under Mr. Nixon. I think the reason that they don't like it anymore is because the Democrats are now a minority. [Laughter] I have decided to adopt their position on another important issue: term limits. I'll settle for two. [Laughter]
You know, this campaign is amazing. It's gotten so heated up that when I called L.L. Bean last week they told me they're back-ordered on red flannel shirts for several months. Because I'm President, they promised to send me mine by June. [Laughter]
Look, in spite of this campaign, I want to tell you that I am going to keep doing the job the American people elected me to do. I'm going to let the rest just take care of itself. I'm still working on Saturdays. I mean, I was working on Saturday a couple of weeks ago, trying to do the things that a President really doesn't have time for during the week. I was reinventing my filing system according to Gore, adding up my own frequent flier miles on Air Force One. I even did a little spackling in the Roosevelt Room. [Laughter] And I noticed— I looked outside and there was the Vice President mulching the environment in the Rose Garden. [Laughter] So I invited him in, and we—there we were, all alone on a Saturday, a beautiful Saturday, and we got into this deep discussion about the new ideas we needed for reinventing Government. I said, "You know, we've got to have exciting ideas, breakthrough ideas, third-wave ideas." And so, we began to think. Right off the bat in this drive to downsize Government, we discovered that there was a useless extra "C" in the FCC, and we got rid of it right away. [Laughter]
Then we asked ourselves, in our lust for consolidation, "Do we really need North and South Dakota?" [Laughter] But when we thought of how frugal and inexpensive they were, and when we remembered the votes on the balanced budget amendment, we said, "Yes, we do." Furthermore, for economy's sake, we intend to propose a Central Dakota for this Congress. [Laughter]
The Vice President, ever the humble public servant, suggested that this year we could save money by doing away with the White House Christmas tree, and we could just hang the ornaments on him. Now, he approved that joke, I want you to know. [Laughter]
Then Leon Panetta came in, and we had, finally, at last, three people in the same room in the White House who were over 45. [Laughter] And we decided that we could consolidate our staff further by replacing fifteen 30-yearolds with five 90-year-olds. [Laughter] Then the rest of the staff came in. They all trooped in, and we were talking about new ideas, these exciting breakthrough ideas. We discussed an opportunity for entrepreneurship in dealing with the deficit, which I know the Republicans will agree with. Next week I intend to propose that we put the President and the Congress on commissions. Then we'll turn a profit in no time. All your programs will be gone, but we'll do well. [Laughter]
This is a serious proposal. Instead of getting rid of all these domestic observances that we have, all these domestic programs, why don't we do what all the athletic events are doing, you know, like the Mobil Cotton Bowl? Let's get corporate sponsorships for Government. Like, we could make February 12 Lincoln-Mercury's birthday. [Laughter]
And you all tell me all the time I need to do better marketing. So we have a new idea.
We're going to put Ed McMahon's picture on the IRS refund checks. Just imagine, when you get your envelope from the Treasury Department, up in the corner it says, "You may already be a winner." [Laughter]
Two other ideas we had—somebody in one of these meetings—you know, even the Democrats go too far sometimes on downsizing Government. One of them said we ought to turn the Pentagon into a triangle. And I said, no, I am going to hold the line with a veto threat for a rhombus. [Laughter] Then it was suggested that the greatest consolidation we could do is to consolidate the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff into the Joint Chiefs. [Laughter] You know, I was afraid that was politically incorrect, but it got by. It got by. [Laughter]
Now, this is the most important thing I'm going to say tonight. I came here to offer a way to make peace with our Republican friends on this heated school lunch issue. Al Gore and I have discovered a reinventing Government way, Mr. Armey, to get around this terrible rhetoric we've been flinging at you on school lunches. We have a way to save money through streamlining that does not require us to deprive our children of food. Instead of cutting food, we're going to cut the cutlery. And here's how: with a spork. [Laughter] Now, you know, I don't know how many of you know this, I've been eating off these things for years. I never knew they were called sporks. But that's what they are. This is the symbol of my administration. This is a cross between a spoon and fork, no more false choice between the left utensil and the right utensil. This is not an ideological choice. This is a choice in the middle and a choice for the future. This is a big, new idea, the spork. [Laughter]
Now, when we get by that, I'm going to reach a breakthrough agreement with Senator Dole to cut down on the commuting costs of Congress by moving the Senate sessions to New Hampshire. [Laughter] I'm hoping even to get Senator Gramm's vote for that. [Laughter]
Also, we decided to do something for that group of constituents that's supposed to be so alienated from the Democratic Party. We want to combine the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with both the Bureau of Fisheries and the Interstate Trucking Commission. We're going to call it the Department of Guys. [Laughter] And if you don't like it, there ain't a place for you in the Democratic Party anymore. [Laughter]
Finally, I have decided to support the most controversial Republican idea in the legal reform area, "loser pays," but only if we tie it to campaign finance reform and make it retroactive to 1992. [Laughter]
Now, that was what Al Gore and I did on just another Saturday afternoon at the White House. So even though all the action's with the Republicans on the Hill, I just wanted you to know you're still getting your money's worth out of us. [Laughter] It shows you the kind of great thinking you get out of a bunch of highly motivated people who don't get enough sleep at night. [Laughter]
Well, I could go on like this forever, but you know that, don't you? [Laughter] Let me say, for 51 years, all of you have gotten together and invited others to join you in celebrating the best of the electronic media. And while the times change and the rules change and the practices change, I really believe that most of us in this room, like the people who came here 51 years ago, want what's best for our country and do what we do in the hope that we're doing it well enough to advance the interests of the United States and to keep the American dream alive.
This is an unusual and difficult time for all of us because of all the challenges out there in the country today, but it's a very, very exciting time, not only to be covering events in Washington but to be a part of it. I thank you for the work you do, and I thank you for having us here tonight.
I do want to say that I'm a little apprehensive; the next speaker, Bill Maher, has a TV show named "Politically Incorrect." Out of respect for him, I've tried not to be politically incorrect tonight. Out of respect for me, I hope he won't try to be presidential tonight. [Laughter]
Thank you all, and good night.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:42 p.m. at the Washington Hilton. In his remarks he referred to Bill Headline, chair, Radio and Television Correspondents Association; CNN News reporter Wolf Blitzer; Representative Richard K. Armey; Robert MacNeil and James Lehrer, co-anchors of the MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour; economic commentator Louis Rukeyser; and television host Ed McMahon.
William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221307