Remarks by the President to Ministers' Leadership Conference (8/10/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                           Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Chicago, Illinois)

For Immediate Release                                   August 10, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                         Willow Creek Community Church
                                          South Barrington, Illinois

2:15 P.M. CDT

     REVEREND HYBELS:  See, it wasn't as bad as I told you it was going to
be.  (Laughter.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  It's never been as bad as you told me it was going to
be.  (Laughter.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  You know, there are some cynics out there that think
that I'm just going to ask you a bunch of softball questions.  They don't
know me very well.

     THE PRESIDENT:  They obviously never sat in on any of our sessions.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  So I'm going to start with a tough one -- how's
Buddy?  (Laughter.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  He's doing fine.  I'm not doing as well as he is.  We
took him up to Martha's Vineyard for a little family weekend, and we went
swimming in the ocean, and he panicked and jumped on me -- and I forgot to
give him a manicure first.  (Laughter.)  So it's a good thing I've got a
suit on.  (Laughter.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  All right.  These folks all know you and I have been
meeting for many years.  I'd just like to ask you, how would you
characterize for these people what our meetings are like?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, they all have certain things in
common, then they're different from time to time.  They all include you
asking me point blank about the state of my spiritual life, and if you
think I give you an evasive answer, then you do pointed follow-up
questions.  (Laughter.)  And then -- and they all end with a prayer.  Most
of the time we both pray.

     Before we came out here we both prayed -- I prayed that you wouldn't
give me too tough a time for asking me to come here today.  And then we
talk about things.  We talk about what's going on, what's going on at the
office.  You ask about the other people that work for me and how they're
doing.  If there is some particular issue in the news, we talked about
that, or particularly if there's a big development involving war or peace,
we talk about that.

     And you've given me the opportunity to ask you questions about what
you do.  I mean, I was fascinated about how Willow Creek was born and grew
and how you got into this business that I think is so important, of trying
to build up the strength of local churches throughout the country and
throughout the world.  And I've learned about how I do my work by talking
to you about how you do yours.  And I hope that the reverse is true on

     But, basically, they've been spiritual conversations, conversations
between two friends.  There are some things that are always the same, and
then they change based on what's going on.

     REVEREND HYBELS:    Now, recently, you told me that you think more
pastors should try to help politicians, they should make themselves
available and offer to kind of play the role that I've played.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I really believe that.


     THE PRESIDENT:  First of all, because we need it.  And not just
someone like me, who obviously does.  But we do.  In 1918, the German
sociologist, Max Weber wrote an essay -- you and I never talked about this
before, I just thought about it while you asked me the question.  It's
called "Politics as a Vocation."  And Weber was a Christian Democrat, a
devout Catholic.  And he said politics is a long and slow boring of hard
boards.  And anyone who seeks to do it must risk his own soul.

     Now, what did he mean by that?  What he meant by that was, even in a
democracy, where you draw your authority from the people, you have it for a
limited amount of time and it's self-circumscribed by the Constitution, you
get the ability to make decisions which affect other people's lives,
decisions which are beyond your own wisdom; often made under circumstances
which are unimaginably difficult, either because you're under political or
personal duress.

     And I just think it's -- most people who don't know any people in
public life who have to make those kind of decisions may think, well,
they're just -- they don't have a spiritual life or they're all automatons
and they're not this, that or the other thing.  I can tell you, most of the
people I've known in 30 years of public life -- Democrats and Republicans
-- have been good, honest, honorable people who tried to do what they
thought was right, and when they differed it was because they honestly
differed.  Ninety percent of the time plus that's been true.  But if you're
not careful, when you have this kind of job, it can overtake you.  You can
believe it's even more important than it is.  You can let it take up even
more time than it should.  And it can crowd out all that other stuff inside
you that keeps you centered and growing and whole.

     And it's very important that everybody in public life has somebody
who's talking to them who either has no interest in either playing up to
them and telling them what they want to hear, no interest in getting
something from them, and no interest in attacking them -- that has anything
to do with the fact that the person is in public life.  And a pastor can do
that in a way that -- and you just sort of -- you can't imagine how much
time that I've spent with you and, over the last couple of years, the time
that I've spent also with Gordon McDonald and Tony Campolo and Phil Wogaman
-- how much it means to me, because it sort of takes me out of all the
stuff that's going on and forces me to look at it in a different way, and
to look at my own life in a different way, and it really kind of keeps me
anchored.  And you can -- all of you can do that for somebody else.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Something spiritual came into focus for you when you
were just a young boy, about 10 years old.  Tell us about that.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, really, it had a lot to do with how I wound up
in public life, I think.  I became a Christian in 1955, when I was nine.
Went to Park Place Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  The minister's
name was James Fitzgerald -- he's a great, good man.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Now, did you like hear a sermon and then --

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I had been a regular church-goer ever since I was
about six.  But, yes, I loved this man.  I haven't seen him since.  I
haven't seen him in 45 years.  But I have a very vivid memory of exactly
what he looked like and the way he talked, and he touched my heart.  He
convinced me that I needed to acknowledge that I was a sinner and that I
needed to accept Christ in my heart, and I did.  But I was nine years old.
And I was trying to figure out what it all meant.

     So then, when I was about 11 years old, maybe 12, the whole state was
in an uproar -- I guess I was 12; I think it was September of 1958 -- Billy
Graham was coming to Little Rock to do a crusade in War Memorial Stadium,
which is where the Arkansas Razorbacks play their football games when
they're playing in Little Rock.  And Billy Graham was the only person that
could get a bigger crowd than the football team.  (Laughter.)

     So the schools in Little Rock had just been closed in the Little Rock
integration crisis.  Some of you who are older will remember it.  Perhaps
if you're younger you read about it.  But 1957 was the first big crisis of
the school integration movement, and the Governor closed the schools,
called out the National Guard to keep nine black children out of the
schools, and then closed them for a year and all the kids had to go
somewhere else to school.

     And the White Citizens Council was basically dominating the politics
of the town.  So Billy Graham schedules these crusades years in advance and
he didn't plan all this -- all of a sudden, he's supposed to step in the
middle of this.  And my Sunday school teacher was going to take me and a
bunch of kids over to hear him.  I never will forget it.  And the White
Citizens Council and a lot of the business people in Little Rock were
worried about some sort of great encounter because the racial tensions were
very high, and they asked Billy Graham to agree to give this crusade to a
segregated audience.

     And he said that if they insisted on that, he would not come; that we
were all children of God and he wanted to lead everyone to Christ -- he
wouldn't do it.  And it really touched me, because my grandparents, who had
no education, particularly, and were very modest people, were among the few
white people I knew who supported school integration.  And all of a sudden,
to have Billy Graham validating this based on his Christian witness had a
profound impact on me.  And it got me to thinking at that early age about
the relationship between your faith and your work, which, of course, has
been one of the most hotly debated issues in Christianity for 2,000 years
now -- what does the Book of James really mean, and all that.

     But I really -- I can't tell you what it meant.  And for a long time
right after that I would send a little bit of my allowance money to Billy
Graham.  You know, I'm still on somebody's list somewhere -- (laughter) --
for giving next to no money, but it was a pretty good chunk of what I had.

     And he came back to Arkansas 30 years later to do another crusade.
And I took him by to see my pastor, who was dying at the time and who had
been his friends for decades, and we relived that moment and I've never
forgotten it.  And I never will.  It's just like it happened yesterday to
me; even now, I can hardly talk about it.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Now, you and Hillary have been church-goers all the
time in your public service.  And some people think that's just an act.
How would you respond?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, at least, it's a consistent act.  (Laughter and
applause.)  Well, I think I have given evidence that I need to be in
church.  (Laughter.)  To me, it's -- you know, I don't talk about it a lot;
I never sought to politicize it.  But it was very interesting.  I started
off and I went to church with great regularity until I graduated from high
school.  And like a lot of people, when I went to college, my attendance
became more sporadic.

     Hillary had been very active in her local Methodist church in Park
Ridge, which is not too far from here, when she was growing up.  And I
remember when I was elected governor I had my dedicatory service in the
church -- this was 1979 -- in the church in Little Rock, which I'm still a
member, Emmanuel Baptist Church.  And Hillary said to me, you know, we
should start going to church again on a regular basis; we ought to do it;
and you should join the choir, it would do you good to think about
something besides politics.

     So I talked to the choir director, and because I was governor, I was
out three or four nights a week I couldn't go to practice.  But I had been
in music all my life so I was a good sight reader, so he let me sing

     So from 1980 until the year I became President, I got to sing in my
church choir every Sunday and it meant a lot to me.  And then after we came
here we both, because we wanted to go together and with our daughter, we
both started going to the Methodist church outside here in Washington,
Foundry Methodist Church that Dr. Wogaman is the pastor of -- and you know
him, of course.  And we've gone pretty regularly for seven and a half years

     So I've been doing this a long time.  I don't do it for anybody else;
I do it for me.  It helps me to go.  It helps me -- the same way it helps
me to spend an hour talking to you.  I'm sitting here there in church, just
like everybody else, except needing it maybe more, and it's one of the best
hours of the week for me.  I just let everything else go, take my Bible,
read, listen, sing.  I don't know, why does anybody go?  It means something
to me.  It's a way of not only validating my faith, but deepening it and
basically replenishing it.

     One of the things I like about my observant Jewish friends -- and
you've seen a lot about this in the last few days with all the publicity
over Senator Lieberman becoming the Vice Presidential nominee -- is that
they take a whole day, and I mean they really take the day, they don't go
to service for an hour, I mean for a day they shut down and shut the whole
world out and think about what's most important in life.  Anyway, in a very
small way, that's what my church attendance does for me.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Okay.  So if we were having our regular meeting,
this would be the time when I would ask the consistent question:  what's
the current condition of your spiritual life?  Describe right now where
you're at spiritually.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I feel much more at peace than I used to.  And I
think that as awful as what I went through was, humiliating as it was, more
to others than to me, even, sometimes when you think you've got something
behind you and then it's not behind you, this sort of purging process, if
it doesn't destroy you, can bring you to a different place.

     I'm now in the second year of a process of trying to totally rebuild
my life from a terrible mistake I made.  And I now see -- I don't think
anybody can say, hey, the state of my spiritual life is great, it's
constant and it's never going to change.  I think I've learned enough now
to know that's not true; that it's always a work in progress and you just
have to hope you're getting better every day.  But if you're not getting
better, chances are you're getting worse.  That this has to be a dynamic,
ongoing effort.

     But, you know, I had to come to terms with a lot of things about the
fundamental importance of character and integrity.  Integrity, to me, means
-- is a literal term.  It means the integration of one's spirit, mind and
body, being in the same place at the same time with everything, doing what
you believe is right and you believe is consistent with the will of God.

     It's been an amazing encounter; you know, trying to rebuild my family
life, which is the most important thing of all.  And it took a lot of
effort that I've never talked about, and probably never will, because I
don't really think it's anybody else's concern.  And then to rebuild the
support of the people I work with to try to be worthy of the fact that
two-thirds of the American people stuck with me.  That's an incredible

     So I wake up every day, no matter what anybody says or what goes wrong
or whatever, with this overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Because it may be
that if I hadn't been knocked down in the way I was and forced to come to
grips with what I'd done and the consequences of it, in such an awful way,
I might not ever have had to really deal with it a hundred percent.

     This kind of thing happens to -- not, maybe, this kind of thing -- but
all kinds of problems come up in people's lives all the time and usually
they're not played out with several billion dollars of publicity on the
neon lights before people.  But they still have to be dealt with.  And in a
funny way, when you realize there is nothing left to hide, then it sort of
frees you up to do what you ought to be doing anyway.  I don't know if that
makes any sense, but to me, I feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude.

     I also learned a lot about forgiveness.  I've always thought I was
sort of a forgiving, generous person, you know, non-judgmental in a
negative sense -- not that I don't have opinions.  But I realized once
you've actually had to stand up and ask for forgiveness before the whole
wide world, it makes it a little harder to be as hard as I think I once was
on other people.  And that's meant something to me, too.  I think I've
learned something about that.  (Applause.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  A lot of people, when they learned that I was going
to interview you, and a lot of people who know that we've been meeting,
have said to me, the guy never really apologized, the guy never really
owned it and came clean about his mistakes, tried to hide it, said it
didn't happen.  He never came clean.  Now, that's a little surprising to me
because we sent a staff member, one of our senior staff members, to the
White House the day in September of '98, when you gave one of the most
clear confessional statements that I have ever heard.

     I'm not going to ask for a hand raise or anything, but there's a whole
bunch of people here who think you never really said it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don't know why.  I just -- you know, to me -- I
had to come -- there was a lot of things going on at the time, as you
remember, that were unrelated, I think, to the fact that I did something
wrong that I needed to acknowledge, apologize for, and then begin a process
of atonement for.  And there were a few days when I basically was thinking
more about what my adversaries were trying to do than what I should be
trying to do.

     And finally, this breakfast we had -- we're about to have it,
actually, we're coming up on the second anniversary of the prayer breakfast
I have every year for people of all different faiths in the White House
that we sort of do at the start of school, because it's kind of a
rededication period.  And I've done it for eight years, over and above the
President's prayer breakfast, which is a -- there's a whole committee that
does that.  Hillary and I just invite people to the White House and we have
breakfast and we talk about whatever we're talking about that year.  We
pray together and people get up and say whatever they want to say.

     But I think I gave a clear, unambiguous, brutally frank, and frankly
personally painful statement to me because I had to do it.  I mean, I
finally realized that I was -- it would never be all right unless I stood
up there and said what I did and said it was wrong and apologized for it.

     But I think what happened was, I think anybody who was there thought
so; I think anybody who read it thought so.  I don't know what was covered
by television, really, because I don't watch the TV news much, or what was
written in the newspaper or who heard it.  But I think that anyone who saw
that and who observed what happened afterward would not doubt that there
had been a full and adequate apology.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  You sent me the text of it right then, and I read it
and it was -- I mean, I'm an elder at this church, as well as the pastor,
and we've had many times where people have had to make confessions, and
this was as clean.  You said, not only am I -- you said, there's no fancy
way -- there's not a fancy way to say it, I have sinned.  And you went on
and quoted from Psalm 51 and talked about the need for a broken and
contrite heart, and you confessed that.

     And you went on to say that it's not enough to say I'm sorry, there
has to be the fruits of repentance and the gathering together of people who
hold you accountable for walking a new way.  You announced that day
publicly you were putting an accountability group together that would meet
with you and help you stay on a new path.  And you ended the speech by
saying, let the words in my mouth, the meditation in my heart, and the work
of my hands be pleasing to my God.

     It was about as clean as I have ever read something like that.  And it
must have been terribly frustrating for you to live on in the future with
the sense that there's a whole bunch of people who just continue to believe
you never came clean.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, it was for a little bit.  But I think one of the
things you learn is that even a President -- all you can do is be
responsible for what you do.  And what other people say about it or whether
it gets out there -- you have to work hard to get it out there, but -- I
suppose there was a time when I was upset about it.  But then I realized
that that was another form of defensiveness, that if I really thought about
that, that was just another excuse not to be doing what I should be doing,
which is to work on my life, work on my marriage, work on my parenthood,
work on my work with the White House and the administration, and work on
serving the American people.

     So, believe it or not, I haven't thought about it in a long, long time
now.  I thought about it a little bit now because you asked me to do this
and I said, yes, and here we are in the soup together.  (Laughter.)  But I
don't think about it now, because I realize that anytime you're supposed to
be doing something with your life and you get off thinking about what
somebody else is saying or doing about it or to you or whatever, it's just
a crutch for not dealing with what you're supposed to be dealing with.  So
I finally just let it go.  And I hope people can see that it's different.
You just have to hope that and go on.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Let's switch subject matters and go over to
leadership.  I mean, you know a lot about leadership.  And you've been the
leader of the most powerful country in the world for almost eight years
now.  So, okay, leadership questions, are we all right on that, or is there
anything more you wanted to say on other stuff?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I thought you'd never change the subject.  (Laughter
and applause.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  All right, then.  When did you first recognize that
you were a leader?  It's not a trick question, I'm just asking it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I know, I'm just trying to remember.  When I was young
-- I don't know, in grade school -- I used to often be the person who sort
of organized the games and got people to do things and all that kind of
stuff.  But I don't know that I ever thought about it in leadership terms.
And I began to get interested in all this when I got interested in politics
as a kid.

     We got a television when I was nine, I think, or 10.  We didn't have a
television until I was about 10.  I watched the 1956 Republican and
Democratic conventions.  I was just fascinated by it.  And then by 1960, I
began to think, well, maybe I could actually do this some day, because I'm
real interested in people, I care a lot about these issues.

     But I think the first things I actually did were when I was in high
school and I was the president of my class and the head of the band and I
used to organize the State Band Festival with the band director.  And one
time I remember a young man came to school, he came to our school, he
hadn't been there very long and he was in the band.  And he had a fight
with a teacher and he said a very intemperate thing -- at least, back then,
you couldn't do that kind of thing.  And she suspended him.

     So he was going to miss this big band trip we were taking over the
weekend.  And this kid had come to our town, he had no friends, he was all
alone.  Anyway, I decided that he ought to go.  (Laughter.)  And the
teacher, by blind coincidence, was a woman I very much admired; her husband
had been a plumber and she was a housewife and a genius.  And they both
went back to school in their mid-30s.  And they lived across the street
from me, just by coincidence.

     So I went to her house and I told her why she ought to reinstate this
kid.  And I said, I want to bring him to you and let him apologize.  But, I
said, I don't know what's going on in his life, but he's a decent kid and
he's absolutely in the wrong and you're absolutely right to suspend him,
but you ought not to do it anyway -- because he just got here and this will
be good for him if he takes this trip, he'll make friends and everything.

     So she agreed to let me bring this kid to see her.  And he apologized
and cried and she cried and they became -- it was great.  He went on the
trip.  I never saw him again after I graduated from high school until I ran
for President in 1992.  But that made me want to be a leader.  I don't know
if that knew I could be.  I was about, I don't know, I was 15 or 16 years
old.  But it made me understand that you could do things that would make a
difference in other people's lives if you just thought about it in the
right way.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  All right.  So you started realizing you had
leadership skills or talents in you.  But then at some point you said, I'm
going to direct this leadership toward the political arena.  I mean, you
could have been a leader in business, you could have been a leader in
academia, you could have been a leader in ministry, probably.  (Laughter.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  You will find this funny, in light of all that's
happened.  When I was about 11, I gave my grandmother a big speech about
civil rights.  I was just going on and on, waving my arms and everything.
My grandmother looked at me and she said, you know, Billy, I think you
could be a preacher if you were just a little better boy.  (Laughter and
applause.)  True story.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  But, anyway, you decided to choose -- I'm not going
to follow up on that one.  I'm letting that one go.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  I mean, that was a free shot for me and I took a
pass.  (Laughter.)  So please acknowledge.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I owe you one.  Well, like I said, I was about 16, I
guess, that I really decided that if I could do this kind of work, I would
like to do it, this political work.

     And the only other thing I had -- I had thought about being a doctor
and I was very interested in it.  But I knew I wouldn't be great at it.  I
thought about being a musician, and I was really quite good when I was in
high school.  And I knew I would be very good.  But I didn't think I could
be the best.  Especially then, you know, 40 years ago, if you were a
saxophone player, there weren't any saxophone players like there are up
here on this church stage.  And there was certainly nobody like Kenny G
making a living just making records.

     I mean, if you wanted to make a living doing that, you had to get your
days and nights mixed up.  You had to go to some club, stay up all night
playing jazz, you'd sleep all day.  How was I going to have a family?  How
was I going to have a life?  And it certainly wouldn't be worth it unless
you literally were the greatest person doing it.

     And I knew I was real good, but not great.  I thought to myself, I can
do this really well, what I'm doing now, and I love it.  And it's like the
only thing I could ever think of where every day you're getting up and
peeling another slice off the onion of human existence.  There's like an
endless layer of exposure to different people and different problems and
different dreams.

     So I decided when I was about 16 that if I could do it, I would.  And
I would do it because I could do it better than I could do anything else.
And I must say it was a great advantage to me in life.  It's like there are
all these great stories coming out now on Tiger Woods and how he's done
things younger than anybody else has ever done, and how he used to keep
Jack Nicholas's golf records taped on his bedstead, you know.  He decided
younger than I did what he was going to do.  It's a huge advantage.

     You pay a little price for it, too.  None of these decisions are free
in life, but I think it is a big advantage.  And I've always been grateful
that I just knew when I was young.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  There's always that picture of you shaking hands
with John Kennedy.  Was that as momentous in your mind at the time as
people have made it out to be since?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, but not in the way they make it out to be.  I
mean, that is I think if I had never gone in and shaken his hand I still
would have tried to go into politics because it's what I wanted to do.  But
I admired him, and I supported him when I was 14.  He was running for
President -- we used to have these great debates in my 9th-grade class.
And my very best friend as a child, who is still one of my closest friends
-- we stay in touch all the time and he sends me an e-mail once a week --
he's in the computer business in Arkansas -- and comes to see me and tells
me when he thinks I'm all wet -- but he came from a Republican family.  And
I came from a Republican county.  So he was for President Nixon and I was
for President Kennedy.  And we'd have our little debates in the 9th grade.

     And, for me, it was basically about civil rights, which I felt very
strongly about.  So when I got to go to Boys Nation, the American Legion
did a great thing for me.  It was a huge deal for me.  I was a 16-year-old
kid from Arkansas, to get on an airplane, go to Washington, go to the White
House, stand in the Rose Garden.  And we all were standing there in
alphabetical order by state, so Arkansas was near the front.  And President
Kennedy gave this little speech and complimented us on what we'd done in
civil rights legislation -- because it was a mock Senate program, this Boys
Nation program.  He said we were doing better than the real Senate, which
is probably still true.  (Laughter.)

     And, anyway -- Trent Lott will make me pay for that.  (Laughter.)
Anyway, so then he comes down and he starts shaking hands.  I was the
biggest kid from any of the states that started with A, so I just sort of
muscled my way up there and got to shake hands.  But he was kind enough to
stand there for many minutes and shake hands with all the kids.

     And I think in every year but one -- this year, because I had an
emergency, or a very important thing I had to do, and we had to slot the
Boys Nation and Girls Nation people in -- every year except this one I've
actually stood there and shaken hands with and had a picture taken with
every one of those kids.  Because you just never know when something you do
to some child from a small hamlet in North Dakota or an inner-city
neighborhood in LA, or anywhere else -- just by taking a little bit of
time, that the child might imagine that he or she could do something that
otherwise they hadn't imagined.

     So what Kennedy, meeting him, I think, did for me is it gave me --
first of all, I was just touched that the President was seeing us and
paying a little attention to us, but it gave me the ability to imagine that
I might have this life that I knew I wanted.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  All right.  Characterize your leadership style.
Would you say like you're a visionary leader, a strategic leader,
team-building leader?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you probably ought to ask the people who came
with me today -- they would probably say, an exhausting one.  (Laughter.)
Let me try -- first of all, I think the vision is the most important thing.
I mean, to me, what you have to have, if you want to really lead in any
endeavor you've got to say, okay, what is my objective, what are the facts
here, what are the facts on the ground.  Here's my vision.  Then you need a
strategy for how you're going to achieve your vision.  Then you have to
have all these tactics that explain it.  Then you have to put together a
team that can do what you can't do.

     And so what I have tried to do is to focus on the vision thing, as
some politicians say.  I mean, it's not for nothing that the Scripture
says, where there is no vision the people perish.  I mean it is the most
important thing.  Otherwise you get -- remember that great old Yogi Berra
line, "I may not know where I'm going, but I'm making good time."
(Laughter.)  I mean, that happens to everybody in life, and part of it is
when you lose your vision.

     But I also -- I think that team-building is very important because a
lot of the things that I get credit for, the good things that have happened
have been done by somebody else that I empowered to act, consistent with an
agreed upon plan that we started with.  I mean, one of the things that
frustrates me -- it's no different from everybody else that's had this

position, but Vice President Gore doesn't get near enough credit for a lot
of the things that I've done that he was the main executor on.

     I've been very fortunate, I've had one Secretary of Education, Dick
Riley, the former governor of South Carolina, and there's been a dramatic
amount of improvement in the schools that we've been an integral part of
because of him.  I've had one Secretary of Health and Human Services; one
Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, who has probably made the
greatest impact on the interior in a positive way since the days of Harold
Ickes in Roosevelt's administration, or Gifford Pinchot before that in
Teddy Roosevelt's administration.

     So the team is very important.  If you don't have the people around
you that are good, you can have the vision and you can have the strategy.
But if you're doing anything that requires more than one person to do it --
if you're doing something besides writing a book, you've got to have
somebody else to help you.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  When I first started seeing you, you had quite a few
Arkansas folks in the early days, or friends that you brought with you in
the early days into the office.  And then my perception -- and I don't
think we've ever talked about this, actually -- my perception is some of
them found out that the job was over their heads.  And eventually you had
to ask some people who started with you to do something else.

     THE PRESIDENT:  The truth is, though, most of the people that came
with me from home have done very well.  The most popular member of the
Cabinet, I think, is James Lee Witt, the head of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency.  And he was the county judge in this little rural county
in Arkansas where my step-father was born.  He was my head of the Emergency
Management Agency -- and the reason he's popular is we've had a lot of
disasters since I've been President -- natural disasters, I mean --
(laughter) -- we've had a lot of natural disasters.  And he's the first guy
that ever had that job that got it not as a political appointment; he
really knows it.

     The person who does all my appointments, Bob Nash, is from Arkansas.
It's one of the most difficult and sensitive jobs in the government.  Nancy
Hernreich, whom you know and work with, she's obviously from Arkansas.  So
I've had a huge number of people I brought up.

     The only two that I can think of just off the top of my head -- some
of the others have come and gone, but they came and went for the same
reasons others come and go.  The only two I can think of that really
changed their jobs or that left their jobs under less than optimum
circumstances, one of them, principally, was Vince Foster who, as you know,
in a heartbreaking incident actually killed himself -- apparently partly
because of criticism he was receiving in the press that he thought was
unfair and unjust and untrue.

     And I must tell you, that had a big impact on me and my wife.  I had
gone to kindergarten with him.  Everybody thought at home that he was maybe
not only the best, but the most ethical lawyer they ever knew.  And he had
this self-image of himself that was completely assaulted from day one in
Washington and he took it seriously.  I'll never forget talking to him a
day or so before he died.  And I said, you know, how can you take this
seriously?  These people, they don't know anything about you.

     And I said, everybody that reads this editorial page is against us
anyway.  None of these people are going to vote for us.  And for me, I was
so used to being beat on, I was insensitive to the fact that a man that I
had lived next door to when I was four years old was dying inside,

     And it's something I think pastors -- maybe this has happened to you
before, and if it hasn't, I hope it never will -- but it's something you've
got to be sensitive to.  I thought he was receiving all this incoming fire
in the way that I was receiving it.  And, instead, he was receiving it the
way Woodrow Wilson talked about when he was President.  He said that words
could wound more than bullets, and that it took an extraordinary courage to
bear up under it.

     I'd been in public life and debates so long, I was so used to people
saying things for whatever reason -- I missed it.  So I tried to joke him
out of this, instead of being sensitive to it.  He performed very well, but
he didn't understand the Washington culture.

     When Mack McLarty, who went to kindergarten with me and was a big time
automotive executive, became my Chief of Staff, he didn't want to do it.
He said, you need somebody with Washington experience.  But we had put most
of those people that we had into the Cabinet.  And so I knew he was a good
manager.  It's interesting.  So after a couple of years he moved on and
became my special envoy to the Americas, where he helped to, basically,
dramatically improve and broaden our relationship with all the countries
south of our border.  He still does work for me, even though he's returned.
He and Henry Kissinger have gone into business together.  So McLarty has
done very, very well.

     But he didn't want to be Chief of Staff, it's just that, at the time
they were fixing to swear me in and I had to have somebody.  And I had to
have somebody that actually knew how to run things.

     And you might be interested to know that Bob Rubin, whom everybody
considers sort of a consummate insider, you know, was my Secretary of the
Treasury; and before that, head of the first National Economic Council and
clearly one of the two or three most important architects of our economic
revival, says that McLarty did more than anybody else to establish the
spirit of teamwork that we've had.

     In 1995, after we lost the Congress, I had a couple of presidential
scholars from Harvard come in.  And one of these men -- I didn't even know
him -- he said, don't worry, you're going to be reelected.  No one thought
I was going to be reelected in 1995.  I said, why do you say that?  He
said, you have the most loyal Cabinet since Thomas Jefferson's second
administration.  He said, I never saw anything like it.  He said, there's
no back-biting, they work with the White House, you all work together.  He
said, I don't know how you all did it, but you're all devoted to each
other.  And he said, believe me, in the end, in ways that no one can
quantify, it will work out.

     So I think the guy's a genius now, even though I never knew him
before.  (Laughter.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Sometimes it appears as though you live by simply
taking the pulse or looking at polling numbers.  Other times you seem to
step out and lead by conviction, deep conviction.  Is that a fair
characterization of your leadership?

     THE PRESIDENT:  No.  And I'll explain why.  First of all, the role of
polls is widely misunderstood, so let me tell you a little bit about at
least how I see polls.  Let's begin with a poll in a campaign -- who is
ahead, Vice President Gore or Governor Bush, right.  The Gallup Poll says
one day Bush is 19 points ahead, Vice President Gore names Joe Lieberman,
the next day he's 2 points ahead.  Believe me, 17 percent of the people did
not really change their mind in one day.

     That doesn't mean that Mr. Gallup's organization didn't tell the
truth.  That is, that they called what they thought was a representative
group of people one day, and they called another representative group the
other day.  But the first thing you need to remember about every poll is,
if it's an election it's a picture of a horse race that's not over.  And if
you've ever watched a horse race and you see the replays, they always show
how it was at the first turn, how it was in the back stretch, how it was at
the final turn.  Every picture is a poll -- that's what -- you should keep
that in your mind.

     So when you see the polls unfold in this presidential race, you should
remember that.  And therefore, it's like a horse race -- how big is their
lead is one issue.  Second is, what is it based on.  Like if one horse is
stronger than another, even he may just be a half -- may be a head or even
a nose ahead, but if he's a stronger horse he's going to win anyway.  But
otherwise, there could be -- if the horse has got a lot of juice running
third, the horse running third may win.

     Now, on the issues, which is what Bill's asking me about, there's
something else you need to remember about polls.  First of all, they may be
totally misleading -- I'll explain that.  Second, they may change.  I'll
tell you what I normally use polls for as President -- if you go back and
look at what I did -- in 1992, I issued a booklet called Putting People
First, and said if you vote for me this is what I'm going to do.  In 1995,
Thomas Patterson, the presidential scholar, said that I had already kept a
higher percentage of my commitments than the previous five Presidents, even
though I'd made more commitments.

     So what do I use polls for on the issues?  What I primarily use polls
for is to tell me how to make the argument that's most likely to persuade
you that I'm right about what I'm trying to do.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Give us an example.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  I'll give you an example where, according to
the polls I have the unpopular position, okay?  The Congress passes a
repeal of the estate tax, an outright repeal.  Now, I can -- and I'm going
to veto it if it comes to my desk, okay?  Now, I can say the following.  I
can say, I'm going to veto this because it only helps less than 2 percent
of the people and half of the relief goes to one-tenth of one percent of
the people and it's an average $10 million.  That is a populist

     I can say, I'm going to veto it because we only have so much money for
tax cuts and I think it's wrong to do this and say this is our highest
priority when we have done nothing to lower the income taxes of low-income
working people with three kids or more, or to help people pay for child
care or long-term care for their elderly or disable relatives, or to get a
tax deduction for college tuition.

     Or I could say, I think there should be estate tax relief -- I do, by
the way.        I don't care if it does help primarily upper-income people.
The way so many people have made so much money in the stock market in the
last eight years, there are a lot of family-owned businesses that people
would like to pass down to their family members, that would be burdened by
the way the estate tax works.  Plus which the maximum rate is too high.
When it was set, income tax rates were higher, but there was a lot of a way
to get out of it.  Now the rates are lower, but you have less ways to get
out of it.  You have to pretty much pay what you owe more.  So I could say

     So it's not fair to totally repeal it -- like even Bill Gates has
said, why are you going to give me a $40 billion tax break.  And he's going
to give away his money, and I applaud him and honor him for it.

     So I could make either of those three arguments.  It's helpful to me
to know what you're thinking.  I know what I think is right.  I'm not going
to change what I think is right.  But in order to continue to be effective,
you have to believe I'm right.  So that's kind of what I use polls for.

     Also, if you know that you've only got time -- let's say Congress is
going to be in session three more months and you know you can get two
things done, and there are five things you want to do.  And you like them
all five more or less the same, but you just know you can't get it all
done, the system won't absorb that much change at once.

     It may help you to do a survey to see -- for example, the patients'
bill of rights that I've been trying to pass for two years.  One of the
reasons that I have felt good about trying to push it and we keep making
progress and the House of Representatives passed it, is that 70 percent of
Republicans, Democrats and independents outside Washington support it.
It's helpful to know that, because then you're not asking if -- in other
words, Congress is a majority Republican.  So if I give them a bill that's
got 60 percent of the Democrats for it and 60 percent of the independents
for it; when 60 percent of the Republicans are against it, I'm really
asking them to make a sacrifice.

     But if give them a bill that Democrats, Republicans and independents
are all for, even though there may be some organized groups against it, I'm
not asking them to hurt themselves to do something that I think is good for
America.  That's how I use polls.

     Now, let me just say one other thing.  Polls can be misleading.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  He loves this stuff.  I mean, just listen to this.

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, but you need to understand it.  Polls can be
misleading.  For example, the polls show that people normally support the
positions I took on the Brady Bill, banning assault weapons, closing the
gun show loophole.  Does that mean it's a good thing to do politically?
Absolutely not; not necessarily.

     One of the reasons the Republicans won the House in 1994 is that I got
Democrats to vote for the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban.  Why?
Let's say people -- I'll exaggerate -- let's say people are 80 percent for
my position and 20 percent for the NRA position.  Okay?  But if the 80
percent who are for my position are interested in a dozen issues, and it's
only a voting issue for 5 percent; and of the 20 percent of the NRA members
who are against my position, if it's a voting issue for 10 percent, for 15
percent, it means you lose 10 percent of the vote.  See what I mean?

     So the polls can be totally misleading.  Therefore, even though it
looked like the public was for us, when we took on guns, when we took on
tobacco interests, when we took on a lot of these other things, it was very

     And the final thing I want to tell you is, sometimes you have to do
things that are unpopular because you know they're right and you're
absolutely convinced time will tell.  The most unpopular decision I made as
President, at the moment I made it, was to give financial aid to Mexico
when they were going broke.  Remember that a few years ago?  On the day I
made that decision the polls said that by 81-15 -- 81-15, you couldn't get
those numbers for the proposition that the sun will come up tomorrow --
(laughter) -- by 81-15, the public thought that I should not do that.

     It took me five minutes to make the decision to do it.  It was not a
hard decision.  We did it right away.  Why?  Because I knew that no matter
what you thought about whether I was doing something wrong, I couldn't
allow Mexico to go bankrupt if I could stop it; because it was an important
trading partner for us; because if they went down, then Argentina and
Brazil might go down; countries half way around the world might down; we
would be flooded with more illegal immigrants; we'd have more trouble on
our border than we could say grace over; and that even if everybody got mad
at me and wanted to vote against me, I owed it to you to do what I had more
evidence and knowledge of than most voters, and go ahead and do what I
thought was right.  So I did.

     You should use polls and you should follow them, but neither those who
follow or those who use should take them too seriously or fail to
understand their limits.  (Applause.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  If I asked you what are two or three issue oriented
convictions that you are going to stand for from here to the grave; you
just go, this one goes down into my soul.

     THE PRESIDENT:  The first is the whole question of race.  You know,
I'm a southerner, I grew up in the segregated south.  The most important
thing to me is that we learn to live together.  (Applause.)

     Let me say, for one thing, I'm quite sure that some of my positions
are wrong.  I'm quite some of your positions are wrong.  That is, if you
know enough and have enough opinions, some of them are going to be wrong.

     In a way, one of my very favorite Bible verses is the 12th chapter of
the -- 12th verse of the 12th chapter of First Corinthians:  "No we see
through a glass darkly, but then face to face.  Now we know in part, but
then we shall know even as we are also known.  Now abideth faith, hope and
love, and the greatest of these is love" -- or charity, or charitable love
or whatever.  Why?  Because we see through a glass darkly.

     But I'm quite sure that what I am right about is our common humanity,
and that our common humanity is more important than the things that divide
us.  The human genome project has discovered that we are genetically more
than 99.9 percent the same.  Furthermore, it has discovered that if you
take -- let's say we took four groups.  Let's say we take a hundred
Chinese, a hundred Indians from South Asia -- not Native American -- a
hundred Indians, a hundred Norwegians and a hundred West Africans.  That
the genetic differences between the groups would be less than the genetic
differences among the individuals within each racial group.  Stunning.

     Basically, science is confirming what our faith has taught us.  And
so, to me, if I could have one wish for America it would not be that the
economic recovery would go on another decade, it would not be even that the
crime rate would be lowered or that we would all -- that all of our
children would have a chance at a good life.  It would be that we would
find a way to live together as one America.  Because we'll figure out how
to solve all the problems if we'll stop getting in each other's way.
(Applause.)  So that's what I believe.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  It's funny, when you start going in on this genetic
thing -- I went to Washington.  I think it was a day after you had done all
that reading.  I walked in the door, you could not wait -- (laughter) -- to
tell me the findings of these genetic differences and similarities.  And I
was thinking, I flew all the way there, sat and listened for an hour and 15
minutes, flew all the way back and never said a word.  (Laughter.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  But somebody has got to do that to him, right?
(Laughter and applause.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  I think you're two down now.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Boy, I'll pay for that, I'll tell you.  I'll pay for

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Yes, you're two down now.  (Laughter.)  Okay.
Dividing your life into thirds, like zero to 20, 20 to 40, 40 until now,
which leaders had the most important influence on you in each of those

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, when I was very young, my mother was a role
model to me, and for lots of reasons.  She was a good mother, a good
provider; she got up early, worked late, put us first.  My band director,
my high school principal.  President Kennedy.  A couple of my college

     Between 20 and 40, I think I admired Martin Luther King, Robert
Kennedy, a lot of people in public life.  Between 40 and 60 -- especially
after I got to be President, I spent more time studying Abraham Lincoln,
Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.  And I've been very influenced by Nelson
Mandela, who is a good friend of mine and my family.  And Yitzak Rabin, the
late Prime Minister of Israel, whom I lived very much and was very close to
and, as you know, lost his life because he was working for peace in the
Middle East, the same thing we're still struggling with.

     And I kind of drew something from each of them.  But I would say those
are the people that have really influenced me.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Okay.  What are the toughest one or two decisions
you've had to make during your presidency?  When did you just go, oh, my
goodness gracious, there is no good way this is going to come out, but I've
got to make the call.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, any time you put Americans into battle, you do.
Because you know the chances are some of them will die; and even if they
don't, they're going to kill somebody else.  And you can't use all those
big fancy weapons -- I don't care how good the computers are, how accurate
the weapons are -- without some people getting killed that you didn't want
to kill.

     So the decision to go -- the conflict in Kosovo, when I first got
elected I had to take a military action against Saddam Hussein because he
had authorized an assassination plot on President Bush.  I don't know if
you all remember that, back in 1993, after President Bush had left office
and he went to the Middle East and they authorized an assassination squad.
Thank goodness it failed.  But I couldn't just walk away from that and
pretend it didn't happen and pretend the people who were responsible for
that thought they could kill an American President who had done something
that we all, most of us supported in the Gulf War.

     But every time you do that, every time you unleash a missile or send a
pilot, and you know that it's life and death, you just have to pray you're
right.  We did it in actions -- there were other times when we took actions
over Iraq.  There were other times we -- more limited actions in Bosnia,
because thank goodness, we brought them to the peace table.  But I think
those are the hardest things.  There were a lot of other things.

     It was very hard to put together the economic plan in 1993, because I
knew the country was deep in trouble.  We had quadrupled the debt in 12
years, the deficit was high, the interest rates were high, the economy was
weak.  And I knew it was going to take a real cold shower to turn it
around.  And it would take a combination of tax increases, which I wanted
to have mostly on upper income people, and spending cuts, which would
mostly affect middle and lower income people.  But we had to do them both
to try to get rid of this deficit.  And I knew if we didn't do it, we'd
never get there.  But I also knew that I was asking a lot of members of
Congress to walk the line and to risk being defeated.

     And when the Republicans announced that they would give no votes to it
and it was going to be the first major piece of legislation in 50 years to
pass with the votes of only one party -- you know, I knew what I was asking
them to do.  But I also knew, I believed very strongly it would work, and I
thought if we didn't do something about the deficit and the accumulating
debt that we would never turn the country around.  And so I did it.  But it
was very hard for me, because I knew that the Congress would pay the price
because there was no way the economy could be that much better by '94 in
the elections.  And that if I was right and it worked, that I would be
reelected in '96 and they would have, in effect, sacrificed for a decision
that I made and got them to support.

     And it's turned out that's how it was.  That was one of my lower days
as President, when that happened.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  Now, let's say that it's the night before you have
to send troops into battle.  Who do you have in the room with you?  What
process is going on?  How do you make that final call to say, go?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you have the National Security team, the
Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, the Director of Central Intelligence and a number of other
people would be there.  And we would probably be meeting in the secure room
in the White House, that we have for such purposes.

     And we would go over all the facts, all the options, what options we
had other than going into combat, what our objectives were, what the
likelihood of achieving our objectives are and what could go wrong.  And if
the worst happens and something goes wrong, what are we going to do then.
We try to game it all out and think about it in advance.

     Then I go around the room -- and whenever I have a big decision I make
everybody tell me what they think.  And one of the things that I have tried
to cultivate is to tell people I do not want them to tell me what they
think I want to hear -- and I must say, they have certainly taken that to
heart.  (Laughter.)

     But one of the problems that presidents -- one of the things that
causes presidents problems is they tend to pick people to be around them
who are too much like them.  This is not a negative thing -- it's a hard
job, you're under a lot of pressure, you like to be around people you feel
comfortable with, who have the same interests you do, have the same
strengths you do.

     But the truth is, you need to have people around you who see the world
differently, who have different experiences and who have different
strengths and skills.  So I tried to do that, too.  And we just go around
and they all tell me what they think.  And then when we have to make a
decision, I make a decision.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  And would you try to gain consensus, or at a certain
point, if you realize there is not consensus, you just say, well, men and
women, we're going to do this.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I always try to get them to get a consensus because I
know they're smart enough and their takes on things are different enough --
the same thing is true in the domestic field, I do the same thing with
economic policy.

     But if they can get a consensus, more than likely, they're right --
because they're not all rubber stamp type people, and they're in there
really working it through.  And they can present the arguments to me.

     But if they can't make a consensus and we run out of time, I just make
a decision.  I make the best decision I can.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  All right.  You're going to be leaving office in a
few months and you look back and you say -- what were one or two of just
the highest moments, just the greatest feelings, when you said, it doesn't
get better than this?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I'll give you a couple.  When we won the
economic fight in August of '93, I knew it was going to turn the country
around.  I just knew it.  Because the productive capacity of the American
people and the fact that we were ahead in this information technology age
anyway was beginning to assert itself.  And I knew if we could just get the
deficit down, get interest rates down, get out of the way of the economy
and then do some things that would speed it up, it would be great.  That
was a great day.

     In September of '93, when Arafat and Rabin met on the White House lawn
and I got them to shake hands for the first time in front of a billion
people on television, it was an unbelievable day.

     When I signed the AmeriCorps bill to give now 150,000 young people a
chance to serve at their communities for a year or two, and then earn money
for college -- and I did it with the pens that President Kennedy used to
sign the Peace Corps and President Franklin Roosevelt used to sign the
Civilian Conservation Corps.  That was a great day.  It was one of my
dreams to do.

     In December of '95, I went to Ireland.  And our administration was the
first American administration ever to become deeply involved in the Irish
peace process.  And we had just about got a final peace in Northern
Ireland.  And my people are Irish; they were Irish Protestants from
Fermanagh, right on the line between Northern Ireland and the Republic of

     And to see 50,000 people in the streets in Belfast, to walk down the
Shankel and the Falls, the Catholic and the Protestant neighborhoods and
see them there together, all these young people cheering for peace; see
over 100,000 people in Dublin waving American flags and Irish flags, all
because they thought America stood for peace.

     The first time I went to Sarajevo after the war in Bosnia ended and
all these people came up to me on the street and thanked me because America
gave them their lives back.  You know, that means -- you forget the
enormous capacity of our country to represent the best hope of humankind.
And you realize when you're President, you're just sort of the temporary
steward of something that's so much bigger than you are.  But if you use
the power in the right way, how it can move the world -- not because of
you, but because of America, because of 226 years of history, because of
the values of the country, because of the way it works -- I mean, it's

     So those were some of the things -- there were many more:  standing in
Nelson Mandela's prison cell with him was a pretty amazing thing.
Listening to him tell me the story of how he let go of his hatred and
resentment so he could be free to be a human being after being unjustly
imprisoned for 27 years.  You get a chance to have some pretty good moments
in this job.  (Laughter.)
     REVEREND HYBELS:  And then describe the lowest point, where you just
said, it doesn't get worse than this.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, obviously, one of them was my personal crisis,
and we've already talked about that.  So if you go beyond that, let me just
mention a couple.

     Somalia, when we lost 18 of our soldiers in Somalia in a fire-fight,
where somewhere between 300 and 500 Somalias got killed.  When our soldiers
were asked -- we were there, remember we went there to help because people
were starving.  But this political conflict was going on.

     And the U.N. had troops there, not just Americans.  And a lot of you
don't remember, I bet, what precipitated this.  One of the factions in the
Somalia fighting killed 22 Pakistani troops who were there with us for the
United Nations.  And the U.N. couldn't just walk away from that.  I mean,
they ambushed them, they bushwhacked them and killed them.

     So only the United States troops had the capacity to try to arrest
those who were responsible.  And I remember General Powell coming to me and
asking for my approval for us to try.  And he said, I think we've got only
a one in five, one in four chance of getting this guy alive, but we've got
a one in two chance of some success.

     But the people on the ground decided the that best thing to do was the
launch an attack in broad daylight on this hotel.  And when they did it, it
turned out to be an unbelievably bloody battle under unbelievably adverse
circumstances and 18 of our guys died and several hundred of theirs did.
And it wasn't the sort of decision made in the way it should have been made
by me, with our involvement.  And I felt the sickest I have felt since I've
been here.

     And they were very brave, they fought very well.  I gave a couple of
them the Medal of Honor, who were killed.  They were unbelievable.  But it
was a terrible moment.  It was a terrible moment when those people were
killed in Oklahoma City, because, if you remember, it came -- there briefly
people assumed that it was some sort of foreign terrorist -- remember that
-- where they were trying to arrest a gentleman who was an Arab American
who was traveling on a plane out of the country.  And I thank God for
whatever it was that made me think to say to the American people, well,
don't jump to conclusions here, this may not be what's going on.

     And then when we found out what did go on, there was this terribly
twisted, disturbed young man who had been affected by all this rhetoric
that had been kind of seeping through the underground of America, about how
inherently evil the government and anybody who worked for it was, I just
felt sick.  I felt, what can we do -- I just -- and one of those people, by
the way, who was killed in Oklahoma City, when I went down there to see his
family, they showed me a picture of him at my inaugural.  And I was talking
to all these victims, and every one of them had a story -- people have

     If you ever get a chance to go to the Oklahoma City Memorial, if
you're ever within a hundred miles of there, stop whatever you're doing and
drive and go see it.  It is the most effective memorial of its kind I have
ever seen.  But I just felt that there were forces at work in our society
that made my words seem weak and inadequate.  And I wanted to do something
to try to heal the heart of the country, to go beyond sort of bigger than
policies and bills and who was up and who was down.  It was just

     So those two things kind of stand out to me as really low moments.
And I mention just personally, for my allies, I felt sick when the '94
congressional elections occurred because I felt like those people bled for
a decision that I got them to make.  So I felt responsible for their losing
their careers, even though I thought what we did was right for the country.
And I think the future bore us out.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  What would you like to be remembered for?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I would like to be remembered for leading the country
through a great period of transformation.  This period is most like what
happened at the turn of the last century, when Theodore Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson led America from an agricultural country into an industrial
country, and helped us to make the changes necessary in that context to
reaffirm our commitment of opportunity for every responsible citizen and to
realize, in that context, what our responsibilities to one another were, to
have one national community.

     And I would like to be remembered as the President that led America
from the industrial era into the information age, into a new global society
that reaffirmed the importance of our mutual responsibility to one another
and the importance of guaranteeing an opportunity to everybody; and that I
was a force for peace and freedom and decency in the world, that tried to
bring people together instead of drive people apart, tried to empower poor
people so they could have a chance like everybody else, and that tried to
change the nature of our politics so we spent more time debating our ideas
than trying to destroy our opponents, and basically tried to lift us up and
move us on.  That's how I'd like to be remembered.

     REVEREND HYBELS:  One of the last times we were together, we were just
taking a little stroll around the White House grounds, and you said, man,
I'm going to miss this job.  What are you going to miss about it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  People ask me all the time, what are you going to miss
the most?  Will it be living in the White House, which is the best public
housing in America -- (laughter) -- or going to Camp David, which is a
pretty good vacation home, or getting on Air Force One, which relieves me
of all the kind of screaming tedium that tests your faith every time you
walk in an airport.  (Laughter.)  But the truth is -- or having the Marine
Band play "Hail To The Chief" every time you walk in a room.  (Laughter.)

     I've had a couple of my predecessors tell me you feel lost when you
walk in a room the first four or five months and nobody plays the song
anymore.  (Laughter.)

     But what I will miss more than anything else is the job.  I loved the
job.  I love it every day.  My biggest problem now is I hate to go to sleep
at night.  I go to bed and I sit there and I read for hours, I just keep
working.  I'm trying to get everything done I can do before I leave.  I
have loved the work.

     I wanted to be President at a time when I was very happy being the
governor of my state, very happy with the life that Hillary and Chelsea and
I had in Arkansas, because I wanted to make some specific changes in the
direction of the country.  I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do.
And it is the most rewarding work you could ever imagine.

     And, believe it or not, it's a job like other jobs.  I mean, it really
matters how hard you work at it; it matters how smart you work at it; it
matters whether you've got a good team helping you.  I mean, it's not sort
of like -- sometimes I think it assumes proportions, the presidency does,
that are both too mythical and too trivial, as if it's all just positioning
and politics.  Not true.  It's a job, like other jobs.

     It matters what you think you're supposed to do.  It matters whether
you've got a strategy to get there.  It matters whether you've got a good
team.  And it matters how hard you work.  And problems yield to effort,
just like other jobs.  And the work -- I will miss the work.

     And the other thing I'll really miss is the opportunity on a regular
and consistent basis to come in contact with every conceivable kind of
human being.  I hope that I can find something to do when I leave office
which will at least keep me in contact with different kinds of people who
have different interests and know different things, from whom I can
continue to learn and for whom I can continue to contribute.

     But it was the job that I loved.  Every day.  Even the terrible days,
I loved the work.  People ask me all the time, how did you survive all
that.  I said, I remembered who hired me.  I got up in the morning and
said, at some level Presidents aren't supposed to have feelings, they're
supposed to be servants, they're supposed to remember who hired them.  And
you get 24 hours in a day and you have to sleep a little, and you need to
take time for your family and renewal, but otherwise, you need to be there
for the American people.

     And it's just been a joy.  I can't even -- I don't even have the words
to describe how much I love the work.  (Applause.)

     REVEREND HYBELS:  I just have a couple minutes left.  There's many,
many thousands of pastors here and at the satellite sites.  And if I said,
what challenge, what words of inspiration would you have for pastors?  Is
what they're doing important?  How do you see it in the overall scheme of

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I would say that I believe in what
it is you're doing here, because every one of us who has a job that anybody
ever held before we did is normally reluctant to admit we don't know
everything we should know about how to do it.  I mean, we think, well,
everybody knows what the President does -- pick up a textbook.  Everybody
knows what a pastor does.  I mean, you've got to pass the plate on Sunday;
you've got to get enough money to keep the church open; you've got to --
it's not true.  There are ways to imagine what you do that will
dramatically increase your effectiveness in doing what God put you on Earth
to do.

     And what I would say is I think that -- I wish I'd actually spent more
time even than I have thinking about that in my work.  And so I think --
I'll go back to what I said -- I think basically America works best when
it's really strong at the grass roots.  And that means that the role of
community churches is pivotal.

     The second thing I would say is to everybody listening to me, we may
have very different political views about certain issues, or maybe a lot of
different political parties, but I think every church needs a mission that
goes beyond its members.  And I think that -- this church does, and I
respect it very much.
     I think that the words of Christ in St. Matthews about how we're all
going to be judged in part by how we dealt toward the least of these is
very important, especially in a time of extraordinary prosperity like this

     And the final thing I would say is, you asked me today about whether
these pastors should minister to other politicians, and I said some things
about politicians and their spiritual needs, and me in mind.  But that's
really true of everyone.

     One of the things I think that must be hardest -- one of the most
rewarding things I think about being a pastor, and yet one of the hardest
things to remember, especially as you have some success, is that whether
you have 20,000 members in your church or 200, they've all got a story and
they all have their needs, and they're all -- they have a claim as a child
of God to have a certain level of connection.

     And as you get bigger and more successful, you've got to figure out
how to keep giving it to them.  Because nobody goes through this whole life
without a slip or a turn or a scar or a challenge, or something that seems
just beyond their ability to cope with.

     And so I think learning these leadership skills and thinking about
what your job is -- all I can tell you is that's what's kept me going for
eight years.  I just kept thinking about the personal stories of all the
people who touched me and reminded me of why I was supposed to show up
every day.

     I think if you can do that and have a mission that deals with your
members as individuals, and that goes beyond your members, I think America
will be better.  And I know that all of us who are involved in these
endeavors will be better.

     The last thing I want to say is -- I used to say this about Al Gore
all the time -- I used to say, when I was being criticized, he doesn't get
enough credit for what we did together that is good, and surely, no
fairminded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.  I hope
you'll feel that way about Hybels.  I've got to make up for these two cuts
I took him.  (Laughter.)  He didn't fail in his ministry because I did.
And what he did was good for America, because I needed somebody to talk to
-- to brace me up and make me think about things in another way.  It was a
gift.  It's something I'll treasure all my life.

     And for those of you who have whatever political or personal
differences you have, I hope you will still believe that he did the right
thing.  Because he did.

     Thank you.  (Applause.)

     END  3:30 P.M. CDT

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