On December 14, 2000, President Bill Clinton gave one of the last difficult statements of his presidency — remarking on the presidential race that his vice president conceded the night before. The Clinton Presidential Library released a number of the drafts that led up to his remarks, showing how Clinton and his team debated what to say — and how much attention they should draw to the contentious aftermath of the campaign.
The 2000 presidential election was perhaps the hardest fought in American history, settled only when the Supreme Court decided to halt vote counting in Florida, effectively declaring George W. Bush the winner. On December 13, Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, conceded. Clinton, who was in North Aylesbury, England, would comment on the concession the next morning.
We took the various versions of the statement, including updates and edits written in a number of different hands. It appears that the first drafts were composed the evening before. Over the course of the night they were tweaked and edited, until presented the following morning.
The main evolution that occurred over the course of the night was moving away from obvious frustration at the results of the election — "tens of thousands of ballots … were never tallied. But … we are a nation of laws" — and toward the sort of unity that has traditionally marked American transitions of power. "The American people," Clinton said that morning, "however divided they were in this election, overwhelmingly want us to build on that vital center without rancor or personal attack."
The first Presidential election of the 21st century will be remembered for many things. It was among the closest in our nation's history, one of the hardest fought, and certainly the longest. The outcome has now been resolved. As soon as the sun rises in America, I intend to call President-elect George W. Bush to arrange a meeting that will set in motion a smooth transition of power.
I want to congratulate Vice President Gore for his strong campaign and his principled defense of our most fundamental democratic value — the right of every citizen to vote, and to have their that vote count. For the last eight years he has been an extraordinary partner in our efforts to turn America around.
And, together, we have succeeded. But, as long as I have known him, I have never been more impressed with his courage and his character than during these past few weeks. We should never forget — his was a fight for the integrity of American democracy. He was determined to ensure that every American — no matter what their background or belief — should have a voice on election day.
Over the past month, we have passionately debated the outcome of this election. And while many believe the process could and should have been different, we must all now accept the results. It's what the Vice President has asked us to do. And I think we should follow his lead.
I also want to congratulate the American people. They have been amazingly patient over these trying weeks. Now, we should repay their patience with real progress on the pressing challenges facing this nation. We must begin by healing the partisan breach, and restoring public confidence in our electoral system. Every American should have equal access to the ballot box — not just in principle, but in practice. At the end of the day, all of us must have confidence that our voices will be heard.
As the transition begins in earnest, I want to assure President-elect Bush that my Administration will do everything possible to ensure an orderly, efficient process. On behalf of all Americans, we wish him well as he shoulders the responsiblities of the Presidency.
Just as a fabric tom and repaired becomes stronger than before ... so too can our nation emerge stronger if we rededicate ourselves to the basic principles of democracy, working together to build the more perfect union of our founders' dreams.
Dec. 13, 5:15 p.m., edits
Red text shows things removed from the previous draft; green is things that were added.
The first Presidential election of the 21st century will certainly be remembered for many things. It was among the closest in our nation's history, one of the hardest fought, and certainly the longest. The outcome has now been resolved. As soon as the sun rises in America, I intend towill call President-elect George W. Bush to arrange a meeting that will set in motion a smooth transition of powercongratulate him and invite him to the White House to discuss the transition.
I particularly want to congratulatecommend Vice President Gore for his strong campaign and his principled defense of our most fundamental democratic value — the right of every citizen to vote, and to have their that vote count. For the last eight years he has been an extraordinary partner in our effortsa close friend and a steadfast partner in our work to turn America around.
And, together, we have succeeded. But, as long as I have known him, I have never been more impressed with his courage and his character than during these past few weeks. We should nevernot forget —that his was a fight for the integrity of American democracy. He was determined to ensureto ensure that every American — no matter what their background or belief — should have a voice on election day — not just in principle, but in practice. We can — and we must — do better.
Over the past month, we have passionately debated the outcome of this election. And while many believe the process could and should have been different, we must all of us must now accept the results. It'sThat's what the Vice President has asked us to do. And I think we should follow his lead.
I also want to congratulate the American people have shown remarkable patience and confidence. They have been amazingly patient over these tryinglast weeks. Now, we should repay their patience with real progress on the pressing challenges facing this nationa renewed commitment to doing their business.
We must begin by healing the partisan breach, and restoring public confidence in our electoral system. Every American should have equal access to the ballot box — not just in principle, but in practice. At the end of the day, all of us must have confidence that our voices will be heard.
As the transition begins in earnest, I want to assure President-elect Bush that my Administration will do everything possible to ensure an orderly, efficient processa cooperative and effective transition. The American people deserve our best efforts.. On behalf of all Americans, we I wish him well as he shoulders the responsiblities of the Presidencythis office.
This is a strong and a resilient people.Just as a fabric tom and repaired becomes stronger than before ... so too can our nation can emerge stronger still if we rededicate ourselves to the basic principles of democracy, working together to build the more perfect union of our founders' dreams.
Dec. 14, 2:45 a.m.
This draft appears to have been distributed more widely for feedback. Multiple edits from different people ensued.
Good morning. Last night President-elect Bush and Vice President Gore showed what is best about America. In this election, the American people were closely divided. The outcome was decided by a Supreme Court that was closely divided. But the essential unity of our Nation was reflected in the words and values of those who fought this great contest. I was proud of both men.
I pledged to President-elect Bush my efforts and the best efforts of every member of our administration for a smooth and successful transition.
I want to say I am profoundly grateful to Vice President Gore for eight extraordinary years of partnership. Without his leadership, we could not have made the progress or reached the prosperity we now enjoy and pass on to the next administration.
I am also profoundly grateful to him for putting into words last night the feelings of all of us who disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, but accepted it. And as he said, all of us have a responsibility to support Presidentelect Bush and to unite our country in the search for common ground.
I wish President-elect Bush well. Like him, I came to Washington as a Governor, eager to work with both Republicans and Democrats. And when we reached across party lines to forge a vital center, America was stronger at home and abroad.
The American people, however divided they were in this election, overwhelmingly want us to build on that vital center without rancor or personal attack.
I thank the Members of Congress from both parties who have pledged to work with the President-elect. They have also pledged to elect commonsense bipartisan election reforms so that the votes of all citizens can be easily cast and easily counted in future elections.
Finally, I want to thank the American people for their patience, passion, and patriotism throughout this extended election season. In the days of service left to me, I will do all I can to finish our remaining work with Congress and to help President-elect Bush get off to a good start.
As I've said so many times over the last year, our country has never before enjoyed so much peace and prosperity with so few internal crises and so little external threat. We have the opportunity to build the future of our dreams for our children, and every one of us has an obligation to work together to achieve it.
Thank you very much.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
In a unique, home-spun experiment, researchers found that centripetal force could help people pass kidney stones—before they become a serious health-care cost.
East Lansing, Michigan, becomes a ghost town during spring break. Families head south, often to the theme parks in Orlando. A week later, the Midwesterners return sunburned and bereft of disposable income, and, urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed, some also come home with fewer kidney stones.
Wartinger is a professor emeritus at Michigan State, where he has dealt for decades with the scourge of kidney stones, which affect around one in 10 people at some point in life. Most are small, and they pass through us without issue. But many linger in our kidneys and grow, sending hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms and costing around $3.8 billion every year in treatment and extraction. The pain of passing a larger stone is often compared to child birth.
Conservatives have put families and communities at the center of their conception of a better America—but they’re notably absent from the Republican nominee’s account.
Again and again at Monday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump’s record in business. She accused him of caring only about himself. Again and again, he pleaded guilty.
When Clinton quoted Trump as cheering for a housing crisis, Trump responded, “That’s called business.” When Clinton accused Trump of not paying taxes, Trump answered, “That makes me smart.” When Clinton attacked Trump for declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying the people he owed, Trump replied, “I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I’m running a company.” Clinton set out to paint Trump as selfish and unethical. Trump basically conceded the charge.
Commentators are declaring Trump’s answers a tactical mistake. But they’re more than that. They show how unmoored he is from conservatism’s conception of America.
For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation.
Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.
Judge for yourself if these examples qualify.
* * *
In national politics, harsh attacks are to be expected. I certainly don’t fault Trump for calling Hillary Clinton dishonest, or wrongheaded, or possessed of bad judgment, even if it’s a jarring departure from the glowing compliments that he used to pay her.
But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.
The way people talk about the internet is, as with most things, imprecise. They say “literally” when they mean “figuratively." They say “the internet” when they mean “the web.” (The internet is the structural underpinning of the web, which is what you see when you’re clicking around online.)
And yet we’ve come a long way since the days of “surfing the net,” “the information superhighway,” and “cyberspace.” Most of us, anyway. Politicians, in particular, still have a knack for evoking 1990s web lingo when they find themselves commenting on modern information systems. (The recent congressional record is full of this kind of thing.)
“Cyberspace,” in particular, is an old-school favorite that people just can’t seem to shake—in large part because of the rise of concerns about “cybersecurity,” which has kept the “cyber” prefix in use. In the mid 1990s, the term “cyber” by itself was often a shorthand for “cybersex,” or explicit online chatting. The term “cyberspace,” though, is usually traced back to William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer, which describes a network of connected computers that creates a mass “consensual hallucination.” Before that, “cyber” goes back to Norbert Wiener’s epic writings on cybernetics in the 1940s.
If this were Clinton, wild speculation would abound.
At the first presidential debate last night, Donald Trump sniffed audibly several times.
Here is a compilation, composed by some patient people at Slate:
Some consider this “breathing.” Others hear something more.
Over the course of this election cycle, pundits have breached all standards with regard to conjecture about the bodies of the candidates and their functionality. Some took Hillary Clinton’s coughing fit as proof of imminent peril. A Florida anesthesiologist got millions of YouTube views for claiming to have used “CIA techniques” to diagnose her with “advanced neurodegenerative disease.”
Donald Trump himself has said that Clinton “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS.” As she worked despite pneumonia, he said with an eyebrow raised, “something’s going on.”
The belief in a common purpose that long defined America’s civil religion was strikingly absent on Monday night.
Civil religion died on Monday night.
For more than 90 minutes, two presidential candidates traded charges on stage. The bitterness and solipsism of their debate offered an unnerving glimpse of American politics in a post-Christian age, devoid of the framework that has long bound the nation together.
Hillary Clinton may have offered little sense of humility, of obligation, of responsibility in Hempstead, but it was Donald Trump who directly rejected those virtues, reframing them instead as vices. He painted altruism as a sucker’s game, and left sacrifice for the losers. It was a performance that made clear one broader meaning of his candidacy—the eclipse of the values that long defined America.
The Democrat’s command and poise left her rival looking frustrated, peevish, and out of sorts.
Monday brought the first debate of the presidential season, but it often felt like two separate debates. One, from Hillary Clinton, was wonky, crisp, and polished; if not always inspiring, it was professional and careful. The other, from Donald Trump, was freewheeling, aggressive, and meandering, occasionally landing a hard blow but often substance-less and hard to follow. But the two debates intersected at times, sometimes raucously, as Trump repeatedly broke in to interrupt Clinton.
It was a commanding performance from the Democratic nominee. Clinton delivered a series of detailed answers on subjects ranging from race to the Middle East to tax policy. Meanwhile, she delivered a string of attacks on Trump, assailing him for stiffing contractors, refusing to release his tax returns, fomenting birtherism, and caricaturing black America. She stumbled only occasionally, but left few openings for Trump. She remained calm and often smiling as Trump repeatedly attacked her and interrupted her answers—doing it so often that moderator Lester Holt, often a spectral presence at the debate, finally cut in twice in short order to chide him. (Vox counted 40 instances; Clinton made some of her own interruptions, but fewer.) Clinton displayed a sort of swagger perhaps not seen since her hearing before Congress on Benghazi.
In North Carolina, the Democratic candidate basked in her debate victory. As for her supporters, they’re feeling better, but they’re not ready to exhale.
RALEIGH, N.C.— "Did anybody see that debate last night? Ooooh yes," Hillary Clinton said, her first words after striding confidently out on stage at Wake Technical Community College Tuesday afternoon.
As a capacity crowd cheered, she added, "One down, two to go."
Celebration and relief added to the thick humidity of late summerat Clinton’s event inNorth Carolina. Post-debate analysis is in that awkward in-between state, after the pundits have rendered their verdicts and before high-quality polling has measured the nation’s response. But the Democratic nominee seemed sure that she was the victor.
It was Clinton’s first event after the first presidential debate Monday evening in Hempstead, New York. One sign of her confidence coming out of that encounter: As I approached the rally, a man asked for a hand loading a heavy box into his car. He was the teleprompter man, he said, but when he arrived in Raleigh, he’d been told that Clinton had decided to do without the prompter. He was turning around and heading back to Washington, D.C.
Ordinary Americans will be able to submit—and vote on—questions to be considered when the candidates meet again.
Viewers unhappy with the questions asked at Monday night’s debate will have a shot to weigh in before Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meet again on October 9: For the first time, the networks producing the town-hall style debate have agreed to accept questions voted on through the internet.
The Commission on Presidential Debates had already announced that the second of three debates would feature questions submitted online in addition to those asked by the traditional studio audience. But on Tuesday morning, the organizers confirmed they are embracing a format that a broad bipartisan cross-section of activist and civic groups known as the Open Debate Coalition have been pushing for years. Americans will be able to submit and then vote on questions online at PresidentialOpenQuestions.com, and ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the 30 most popular queries when they jointly plan the debate.
The Democratic nominee has been unfairly criticized for being “overprepared.”
Hillary Clinton should not be penalized for preparing extensively to run for president. At the first general-election debate on Monday, the Democratic nominee demonstrated a more nuanced understanding of complex problems facing the country than Donald Trump did. That’s not entirely surprising given that she reportedly devotedmore time to “homework, research, and rehearsals” than her Republican rival had. Yet while voters should expect presidential candidates to prepare for the challenges of campaigning and the presidency, it didn’t take long for Clinton’s effort to become a focus of post-debate criticism.
“She obviously was overprepared, and she wanted to make sure we heard every single scripted moment, including the snarky ones, that she had prepared to say,” Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN Tuesday morning. It’s not just partisans who have been critical of the way Clinton’s preparation played out on the debate stage. “Hillary Clinton was at times, even, you could argue, overprepared,” Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, commented in his analysis of the debate, concluding that “her opening statement must have had 15 policy proposals within that two minutes.”