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pd08my00 Statement on the Legal Framework Agreement for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan...
them. I mean, I've got a lot of experience repairing the breach. I've worked with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, I've worked with Israelis and Palestinians, with Joe Lockhart and David Westin. [Laughter] But the differences between Bush and McCain may be just too vast. I mean, McCain as Bush's running mate? Hasn't the man suffered enough? [Laughter] George W. Bush has got a brand-spanking-new campaign strategy. He's moving toward the political center, distancing himself from his own party, stealing ideas from the other party. I'm so glad Dick Morris has finally found work again. [Laughter] You know, the clock is running down on the Republicans in Congress, too. I feel for them. I do. They've only got 7 more months to investigate me. [Laughter] That's a lot of pressure. So little time, so many unanswered questions. [Laughter] For example, over the last few months I've lost 10 pounds. Where did they go? [Laughter] Why haven't I produced them to the Independent Counsel? How did some of them manage to wind up on Tim Russert? [Laughter] Now, some of you might think I've been busy writing my memoirs. I'm not concerned about my memoirs, I'm concerned about my resume. Here's what I've got so far. Career objective: To stay President. [Laughter] But being realistic, I would consider an executive position with another country. [Laughter] Of course, I would prefer to stay within the G- [[Page 948]] 8. [Laughter] I'm working hard on this resume deal. I've been getting a lot of tips on how to write it, mostly from my staff. They really seem to be up on this stuff. [Laughter] And they tell me I have to use the active voice with a the resume. You know, things like: ``Commanded U.S. Armed Forces;'' ``ordered air strikes;'' ``served three terms as President''--everybody embellishes a little--[laughter]--``designed, built, and painted bridge to 21st Century;'' ``supervised Vice President's invention of the Internet;'' ``generated, attracted, heightened and maintained controversy.'' [Laughter] Now, I know lately I haven't done a very good job at creating controversy, and I'm sorry for that. You all have so much less to report. I guess that's why you're covering and commenting on my mood, my quiet, contemplative moments, my feelings during these final months in office. [Laughter] In that case, you might be interested to know that a film crew has been following me around the White House, documenting my remaining time there. This is a strange time in the life of any administration, but I think this short film will show that I have come to terms with it. Can we see the film? [At this point, a video was shown. ] The President. You like me. You really like me. [Laughter] Now, you know, I may complain about coming here. But a year from now, I'll have to watch someone else give this speech. And I'll feel an onset of that rare affliction, unique to former Presidents: AGDD, Attention Getting Deficit Disorder--[laughter]--plus--which I'll really be burned up when Al Gore turns out to be funnier than me. [Laughter] But let me say to all of you, I have loved these 8 years. You know, I read in the history books how other Presidents say the White House is like a penitentiary and every motive they have is suspect. Even George Washington complained he was treated like a common thief, and they all say they can't wait to get away. I don't know what the heck they're talking about. [Laughter] I've had a wonderful time. It's been an honor to serve and fun to laugh. I only wish that we'd even laughed more these last 8 years, because power is not the most important thing in life, and it only counts for what you use it. I thank you for what you do every day, thank you for all the fun times that Hillary and I have had. Keep at it. It's a great country. It deserves our best. Thank you, and God bless you. Note: The President spoke at 10:06 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Washington Hilton. In his remarks, he referred to Susan Page, president, and Arlene Dillon, president-elect, White House Correspondents' Association; ``Tonight Show'' host Jay Leno; Senator John McCain; David Gergen, editor at large, U.S. News and Weekly Report; David Westin, president, ABC News; Dick Morris, political consultant; and Tim Russert, moderator, ``Meet the Press.'' <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 948-953] Monday, May 8, 2000 Volume 36--Number 18 Pages 943-1020 Week Ending Friday, May 5, 2000 Commencement Address at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan April 30, 2000 Thank you very much. I must say I was very moved by Secretary Slater's remarks. But I realize he was lifted to new heights of eloquence by being back at his alma mater. And I also realize he was once again proving the adage of Clinton's third law of politics: Whenever possible, be introduced by someone you have appointed to high office. [Laughter] They will praise you to the skies, true or false. [Laughter] I must say, I was afraid, though, Rodney was about to commit--we have been friends for many years--I've never heard him say anything politically incorrect. I've never heard him utter a curse word. I've never heard him betray a character flaw. But I almost heard an ethnic slur today when he said he got me because I look like President Shelton. [Laughter] All gray-haired, middle-aged Scotch-Irish guys look alike, you know. [Laughter] I'm very proud of Secretary Slater, and you should be, too. And I'm proud of General Coburn and his leadership in the Army, and Gene Conti, who is the Assistant Secretary for Policy at our Transportation Department with Secretary Slater. We have been richly blessed by this university. And President [[Page 949]] Shelton, I am grateful for your years of service here and for our friendship in our early years in Arkansas, when we both had less gray hair and didn't look so much alike. I thank Mayor Archer and former Governor and Ambassador Blanchard and Representative Kilpatrick and the other Michigan officials who are here with me today. I thank my longtime friend Jim Comer. I didn't know he was here at EMU this year until I saw him right before I came in. No American has proven so clearly as Professor Comer that all children can learn if given the right learning environment, and I am very grateful to him. I thank all the distinguished board of regents and faculty and staff who are here. But most of all, I want to recognize the students and their parents of this, your first graduating class of the 21st century. On the way in, Rodney was telling me that I would identify with a lot of you. A lot of you are first-generation college graduates. A lot of you had to work your way through school. A lot of you needed help in the form of loans and grants and work-study positions. And every one of you should be very proud of what you have achieved. I also identify with your class because I may be the only President of the United States who ever studied here. I came here to prepare for my debates in 1992. And like you, I passed, and I thank you very much for the contribution you made to my education and to my years here. You are graduating into a strong economy, the strongest in our Nation's history. You are also graduating into a time of immense possibility, here in Michigan and throughout the United States and, indeed, throughout the world. One of my speechwriters wrote me a line that said, ``Our economy is soaring higher than Swoop, the eagle.'' [Laughter] He said you would know what that means. All I know is that I am grateful for the chance that the Vice President and First Lady and our administration and I have had to work to create opportunity in America and to bring us closer together in one community. I know that a great deal of this is because we are in the midst of a profound revolution, the most sweeping since the industrial revolution a century ago. Information technology alone now gives us about a third of our growth, though only 8 percent of our work force is directly involved in it. It is bringing growth to every sector of our economy in a way we haven't seen since Henry Ford's first assembly line. And I wanted to come here today to try to give you, this graduating class, some sense of the world into which you're going. You understand the opportunities, doubtless, better than I. I want you to understand the challenges, too. For economic opportunity is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end, to further liberty, to strengthen the bonds of community, to enable you to build families and have children and enrich your lives. Before you lies a future of unparalleled possibility. But I want you to understand today that just as at the dawn of the industrial age 100 years ago, which was symbolized by Michigan, by Mr. Ford's assembly line, and the factories of Detroit, there are new challenges presented by this new era to our oldest values of freedom and opportunity and community. Theodore Roosevelt came to this campus more than 100 years ago, at the beginning of the industrial era, when new rules were required to make sure that the industrial revolution worked for all our people. Without those rules, there would have been a terrible industrial divide between rich and poor, strong and weak. With those rules--with the wage and hour laws, the child labor laws, the antitrust laws, the Federal Reserve, and later the minimum wage, workman's compensation, unemployment insurance, Social Security--with those new rules, we built an opportunity society that produced the greatest middle class in human history, one that became even more successful and more inclusive throughout this last century with the progress of civil rights, women's rights, environmental and worker protection. I want to say to you today that you are well-equipped for the possibilities of this new era, but we also need new rules for the information age to protect those old values, just as we did for the industrial age. For all the possibilities must be measured also against the challenges presented by this new era, challenges to our privacy as individuals, to [[Page 950]] our pledge of equal opportunity for every member of our community, to our stewardship of the environment as citizens of the planet. From our earliest days, part of what has made America unique has been our dedication to freedom and the clear understanding that real freedom requires a certain space of personal privacy. Today, as information technology opens new worlds of possibilities, it also challenges privacy in ways we might never have imagined just a few years ago. For example, the same genetic code that offers hope for millions can also be used to deny health insurance. The same technology that links distant places can also be used to track our every move on- line. In this information age, we can't let new opportunities erode old fundamental rights. We can't let breakthroughs in technology break down walls of privacy. Our response to this challenge will affect the lives of every single member of this graduating class and the lives of your children. We are working with the Internet industry to raise privacy standards. In the last year alone, the share of commercial websites with privacy policies has risen a lot, and we will do more. But as my wife has said many times, some of these privacy issues presented by information technology are so sensitive they must have the protection of law. We have taken steps to protect the privacy of children on-line, preventing websites from collecting information from children without a parent's permission. I proposed the first set of national standards to protect the privacy of on-line medical records, to ensure that your personal health information doesn't fall into the wrong hands. You shouldn't have to worry that your employer is looking at the medications you take or the ailments you have. Today I'd like to ask you to think about the challenge to our financial privacy coming out of the information revolution. We are moving from cash to electronic transactions. A bank is no longer just a bank; it's often linked with an insurance firm, a broker, a travel agency. All this helps to give us added convenience, lower prices, and more choices. But it's also forcing us to redefine financial privacy for the information age and to rewrite the rules that go with it. There was a time when protecting your financial privacy meant safeguarding your passbook. Today, a financial record isn't just about what you're worth; it can paint a picture of who you are. Every time you write a check, use an ATM, make a purchase with a credit or debit card, there is a record, a record that technology can sort and track--what dish you ordered at a restaurant, what clothes you bought at the mall-- that makes it easier for others to mine all of that information for their own profit. We've taken some historic steps to stop information about your personal spending habits from being shared without your permission. But even today the law doesn't prevent firms within a financial conglomerate from sharing information with each other. In other words, the life insurance company could share information about your medical history with the bank without giving you any choice in the matter. The bank could share information from your student loans and your credit cards with its telemarketer or its broker, again without giving you any choice. I believe that is wrong. Today I present a plan to protect the privacy of Americans' financial records. I challenge Congress to act on it this year. Because your information doesn't belong to just anyone; every consumer and every family deserves choices about how their personal information is shared. First, before your financial information is shared between two affiliated companies, say, a credit card company and an insurance company, you would get notice, and you could say no. Second, for the most sensitive type of information, I think there should be an extra level of protection. As more banks and insurance companies merge, lenders could gain access to private medical information and many insurance records. But no one should have to worry that the results of their latest physical exam will be used to deny them a home mortgage or a credit card. Under my plan, you'd get to say no. Third, we would add that same safeguard to the information that makes up your personal spending identity, such as the list of [[Page 951]] every purchase you've ever made by check or debt or credit card, everything you buy. Again, that information could be shared only if you say yes. And finally, to make sure you have control over the comprehensive records that financial institutions may assemble about you, we'll make sure you have access to those records and the right to correct mistakes in them. We must be able to enjoy the benefits of technology without sacrificing our privacy, to maximize the promise of the information age and still protect our individual liberties. Our national character also requires new rules for the information age that recognize opportunity for all, now means access to technology for all. Just as we closed the industrial divide in the 20th century, we must now close the digital divide in the 21st century. You know, if you're educated for the information age, who you are and where you are don't matter as much anymore. I have seen that with people in the poorest villages of the world logging onto the Internet and getting an education, getting information once available only in textbooks, learning how to take care of their children, learning how to start new businesses. But if who and where you are don't matter so much, what you know and what you can do matter more than ever. That's why this degree and what you learned here is so important. That's why technology education is so important. Technology in this new era will either erase lines that divide us or widen them. The Internet and computers make it possible for us to lift more people out of poverty faster than at any time in history, but it will not happen by accident. Many of you have learned this lesson in your own lives. Todd Pasquale, of the college of arts and sciences, wasn't going to let anything stop him from earning his degree today, not even navigating his wheelchair through the Michigan snows. Thanks to EMU Online, he took his winter courses at home. Now, he plans to give back to the community by working as a counselor to people in prisons, because he could access technology. Let's give him a hand. [Applause] Randy Short went back to school after her husband died, leaving her to raise three sons alone. Today she earns a Masters degree with honors in website design. She hopes to start her own business, and she wants to help teach women to use computers. She has already given those women a lesson for all of us about the value of making sure technology education is accessible to every American. Give her a hand. [Applause]
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