Thursday’s dedication ceremonies for the Clinton Presidential Center offered some stirring images — including the presidential families all standing to watch Bono and the Edge performing (Windows Media) — and generous examples of presidents seeing the best in one another.
President Bush on President Clinton:
Over the years, Bill Clinton showed himself to be much more than a good politician. His home state elected him the governor in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s because he was an innovator, a serious student of policy and a man of great compassion. In the White House, the whole nation witnessed his brilliance and his mastery of detail, his persuasive power and his persistence. The president is not the kind to give up a fight. His staffers were known to say, "If Clinton were the Titanic, the iceberg would sink."
President Clinton on President Bush:
I don’t want to be too political here, but it bothers me when America gets as divided as it was. I once said to a friend of mine about three days before the election, and I heard all these terrible things, I said, You know, am I the only person in the entire United States of America who likes both George W. Bush and John Kerry, who believes they’re both good people, who believes they both love our country and they just see the world differently?
And President Clinton on our current divisions:
America has two great dominant strands of political thought. We’re represented up here on this stage: conservatism, which at its very best draws lines that should not be crossed, and progressivism, which at its very best breaks down barriers that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place.
The complete ceremony is available on C-SPAN.org, and the center’s website offers various transcripts and videos clips.