Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reaction to Clinton Speech Shows Poverty of Our Political Rhetoric

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reaction to Clinton Speech Shows Poverty of Our Political Rhetoric

Article excerpt

If further proof were needed that our nation is starving for leadership and inspiring rhetoric, it was provided this week by the coverage of the president's remarks at Dover Air Force Base upon the return of the bodies of Ron Brown and his trade delegation.

"Bill Clinton," an editorial in The Washington Post proclaimed, "gave perhaps the best speech of his presidency and one of the finest commemorative remarks by a chief executive in memory."

We have been fed a steady diet of polling data, campaign slogans and 30-second attack ads for so long that a competent eulogy takes on the aura of an unforgettable address. In fact, the most memorable phrase Clinton has produced in his three-and-a-half years in office is "The era of big government is over." And it is largely remembered with a chuckle. America, the melting pot of religions, ethnic groups and traditions, is more dependent than most countries on a common "American creed," consisting not only of its founding documents but of the great speeches of its leaders: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," Franklin Roosevelt asserting his belief that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," John F. Kennedy challenging Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." These are moments etched on the nation's soul. The fawning over Clinton's Dover speech is a recognition that the stirring words and compelling vision America is hungering for are just not on the menu. Looking to the fall, it is clear that both parties are planning to trot out their scariest Halloween goblins. The winner in November will be whoever tells the most terrifying ghost stories about his opponent. Will we be more scared of what will happen if Clinton gets a second term - liberal judges setting criminals free, Hillary unleashed, illegal immigrants on welfare? Or will we be more scared of radical Republicans in Congress - going too far too fast, cutting taxes for the rich while throwing children and the elderly into the streets? The last thing the American people need from their leaders is scary bedtime stories. …

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