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.
It isn’t the only democratic institution that finds itself in danger.
Four years ago, as a speechwriter for President Obama, I commissioned a binder full of women.
A little context. It was the morning of the Al Smith Dinner, the election-year tradition in which both parties’ nominees don white-tie attire and deliver comedy monologues to New York City’s elite. Our opponent, Governor Mitt Romney had recently used the words “binders full of women” while discussing gender parity in government. Eager to mock the clumsy phrase, I asked a staffer on the advance team to put together a prop.
But our binder never saw the light of day. Obama nixed the idea. I remember being disappointed by the president’s decision, and wondering if POTUS was phoning it in. Of the jokes that did make it into the final draft, one in particular stood out for its authenticity.
The easiest way to take down the web is to attack people’s access to it.
For more than two hours on Friday morning, much of the web seemed to grind to a halt—or at least slow to dial-up speed—for many users in the United States.
More than a dozen major websites experienced outages and other technical problems, according to user reports and the web-tracking site downdetector.com. They included The New York Times, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, PayPal, Verizon, Comcast, EA, the Playstation network, and others.
How was it possible to take down all those sites at once?
Someone attacked the architecture that held them together—the domain-name system, or DNS, the technical network that redirects users from easy-to-remember addresses like theatlantic.com to a company’s actual web servers. The assault took the form of a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on one of the major companies that provides other companies access to DNS. A DDoS attack is one in which an attacker floods sites “with so much junk traffic that it can no longer serve legitimate visitors,” as the security researcher Brian Krebs put it in a blog post Friday morning.
The candidates are back on the campaign trail, following the third, and final, debate on Wednesday night.
It’s Friday, October 21—the election is now less than three weeks away. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are back on the campaign trail to deliver their final pitch to voters, ahead of Election Day. We’ll bring you the latest updates from the trail, as events unfold. Also see our continuing coverage:
AT&T is reportedly in advanced talks to buy Time Warner, South Africa says it will leave the ICC, ISIS attacks Kirkuk, and more from across the United States and around the world.
—The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a deal for AT&T to buy Time Warner could come as early as this weekend. More here
—South Africa has notified the UN that it is withdrawing from The Hague-based International Criminal Court. A government minister said South Africa didn’t want to carry out ICC arrest warrants against other African leaders—warrants, he said, that would lead to “regime change.” More here
—ISIS, under sustained attack in its last major Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, attacked the city of Kirkuk. At least 19 people are dead in the attacks. More here
Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.
Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book The Science of Happily Ever After, which was published earlier this year.
Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were. Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?
Theories on what’s behind one of the biggest puzzles facing America today
U.S. economic growth is anemic, and the country needs to do something about it, quickly. This was one of the central themes of the third presidential debate. “China is growing at 7 percent. And that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing—our last report came out, and it is right around the 1 percent level,” Trump said Wednesday night. “Look, our country is stagnant.”
Trump is right that U.S. growth has not been very impressive of late, especially when compared to rates of the past. Though the United States gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a rate of more than 3 percent for much of the 1980s and 1990s, the rate has slowed significantly since the recession, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter of this year, for instance, GDP increased at a rate of just 1.4 percent. After a recession, an economy should come roaring back, but this time around, it hasn’t, and that’s left many concerned about the state of the economy. GDP growth, economists say, helps raise wages and living standards, and increases the size of the entire economic pie—making it possible for more people to have a bigger share.
How the national mythos and U.S. labor laws influence geographic mobility.
Kevin Bacon moves from a big city to a small town in Middle America where dancing is outlawed. Ralph Macchio moves from New Jersey to California, where he learns the art of life and combat. Dianne Wiest moves with her two sons to a California town stocked with vampires.
The trope of American families settling in faraway places isn’t just a plotline for terrible 1980s movies, but a national phenomenon. Decades of data, including a more recent Gallup study, characterizes the United States as one of the most geographically mobile countries in the world. “About one in four U.S. adults (24 percent) reported moving within the country in the past five years,” the report noted. With the comparable exceptions of Finland (23 percent) and Norway (22 percent), Americans also move considerably more than their European peers.
Among the major sites that had trouble staying online or functioning properly: The New York Times, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Tumblr, Spotify, PayPal, Verizon, Comcast, EA, and the Playstation network. Aside from the inconvenience to those attempting to visit those sites, there’s the question of how an attack like this affects the companies who run those sites. System outages—even seemingly brief ones—can have huge repercussions on the bottom line.
Why her vow not to “add a penny to the debt” is an impossible pledge to keep
Hillary Clinton said nothing on Wednesday night that should derail her considerable chances of winning the presidency on November 8. But if she wins, one simple promise she repeated over and over again could come back to haunt her reelection bid in 2020.
“I also will not add a penny to the debt,” Clinton said toward the beginning of her final presidential-debate performance. She made a similar pledge two more times that night, and it’s a line she has used before on the campaign trail. It’s a short-hand reference to the fact that although she has proposed hundreds of billions in new federal spending for infrastructure, paid family leave, education, and other items, she would pay for those investments by raising an equal or greater amount in revenue through higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
An interview with Bill O’Reilly Monday night distilled many of the struggles the Late Show host has had in his first year on the job.
Almost 10 years ago, Stephen Colbert appeared on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor in character as the Colbert Report host—a pugnacious, egotistical super-pundit who tolerates no criticism. Colbert has frequently acknowledged that O’Reilly was the chief inspiration for his on-screen persona, and it was hilarious to see the imitation go up against the real thing. “What I do, Bill, is I catch the world in the headlights of my justice,” Colbert bragged to a smirking O’Reilly. “I’m not afraid of anything. Well, I might be afraid of you.” The same day, O’Reilly went on Colbert’s show; the combative tension between the two remains genuinely thrilling to watch.
On Monday night O’Reilly went on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to talk about the state of the Republican Party and Fox News. The conversation was civil, at times energetic, but mostly bland. O’Reilly, clearly far more at ease, pontificated on the state of the Trump campaign while dodging any discussion of some of its biggest controversies. Ultimately, it was a notable reminder of just how much things have changed for Colbert since he cast off his late-night character and joined CBS. To stand out in a crowded landscape, Colbert has pursued even-handedness and empathy, a drastic swerve away from his former public persona. It’s an approach both noble and misguided, but a year into his Late Show run, it’s kept him firmly out of the zeitgeist.