Hillary Rodham Clinton Addresses KSG's Institute of Politics

Exactly six months after the September 11 terrorist attacks, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a capacity crowd at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics. In a speech mostly revolving around the consequences of the War Against Terrorism, but also touching on many other current political issues, Senator Clinton emphasized the potential to build a “stronger, safer nation” in the aftermath of September 11.

“It’s been a terrible six months in many ways,” said the former First Lady, “I’ve met with more survivors of September 11 than I can remember.” On the morning of the attacks, Senator Clinton was in Washington, D.C., on her way to attend a hearing on child education. After making sure that “her daughter was safe, and her husband knew what was happening,” Senator Clinton, like most others, watched the events of that day unfold on television. On September 12, Senator Clinton flew from Washington to New York to inspect the damage for herself. “[I]t was like peering through the gates of hell … the scene embodied tragedy and resoluteness,” she recalled.

The former First Lady outlined how America was now facing a level of danger in the world “not seen in our lifetimes,” adding “how we react to [the danger] will say a lot about what type of nation we are.” Senator Clinton warned that though America faces a determined adversary, it cannot just respond militarily. “We need to invest more in education, healthcare, family planning, as well as defense and homeland security,” she argued.

Senator Clinton warned against deficit spending, adding that “it makes no sense to pay for a war [whilst] implementing tax cuts.” She called on all, but particularly the richest members of society to fund the budget deficits arising from the War Against Terrorism. Whilst advocating the subordination of political differences during the campaign, Senator Clinton thought it “appropriate, and patriotic” to ask questions about “what we’ve started in Afghanistan.”

The former First Lady went on to characterize the ongoing Congress debate on drilling for oil in Alaska as “a debate between those who want the energy policies of the past” versus “those of us who want renewable energy sources that stand the test of time” on both the environment and the economic fronts. “Environmentalism is no longer a movement, it is a way of life,” she added.

On the Enron scandal, Senator Clinton pointed out that “CEOs have a responsibility not just for the bottom line, but also for their employees.”
When asked about her stance on the current situation in the Middle East, Senator Clinton replied “I have no doubt that we have to, and should support Israel.” She went on to describe Yasser Arafat as “unwilling or unable to take measures that will lead to a secure and lasting peace.” According to the former First Lady, Arafat has at least knowledge, if not control of the current escalation of violence in the region. “The violence could stop tomorrow if Arafat wanted it,” she added.

September 11 showed us that “our fate is a mystery,” said Senator Clinton. “What matters is that people stand up for what they believe in … it’s important for young people to get involved in politics – far too few young people do,” she concluded.

March 25, 2002
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