Clio And The Clintons


I met President Nixon only once, when he came to the White House to speak with the President about Russia prior to the meeting with Yeltsin. He came to the second floor, where my daughter and I were waiting to greet him, and he had prepared what he was going to say to both of us, so when he met Chelsea, he immediately began talking about her school, which both of his daughters had attended, and his memories of it. When he met me, he immediately talked about health care, and said, “You are attempting to do now what I tried to do.” President Nixon had proposed a national health care plan. I was very impressed by his discipline in the way he had prepared just to say hello to us.

So although I have grave political disagreements with many of the people who have been here, I think you do not get to this position without a lot of admirable personal characteristics that oftentimes get either overlooked or overshadowed by the pressures of the moment. And I must say one of the things I admire about my husband is his humility in the face of this responsibility and his willingness to understand that even though you are elected President, you are really a servant. That is sometimes misunderstood, because people are more comfortable with authoritarian symbols, if you will. But I think we all are better served if, whatever impressive credentials and strong personal characteristics people bring to the Presidency, they also bring a real dose of humility as well. Because these are problems at any time that demand answers that are not easy and are certainly not easily explained—except through some historical perspective.

THE PRESIDENT : I’ve got to go pass the crime bill. [Laughter.]