Remarks and a
Question-and-Answer Session at the
Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome. Governor Baliles, Congressman Slaughter, and my very special thanks, too, to Senator Warner and President O'Neil for suggesting this invitation. And you know, as President, I have certain privileges. So, I checked with President O'Neil, and I'm delighted to announce that starting Monday night you all have 4 weeks off.
But here at UVA, we are surrounded with memories of Thomas Jefferson. One of my staff mentioned that Thomas Jefferson's favorite recreation was horseback riding, and I said he was a wise man. [Laughter] And another member of the staff said that Thomas Jefferson thought the White House was a noble edifice, and I said he was a man of refined taste. [Laughter] And a third staff member noted that, after retiring as President, Thomas Jefferson, in his seventies, didn't sit back and rest, but founded the University of Virginia; and I said: There's always an overachiever which makes it hard for the rest of us.
no speaker can come to these grounds or see the Lawn without appreciating the
symmetry not just of the architecture but of the mind that created it. The man
to whom that mind belonged is known to you as Mr. Jefferson. And I think the
familiarity of that term is justified; his influence here is everywhere. And
yet, while those of you at UVA are fortunate to have before you physical
reminders of the power of your founder's intellect and imagination, it should
be remembered that all you do here, indeed, all of higher education in
Well, you're not alone in feeling his presence. Presidents know about this, too. You've heard many times that during the first year of his Presidency, John F. Kennedy said to a group of Nobel laureates in the State Dining Room of the White House that there had not been such a collection of talent in that place since Jefferson dined there alone. [Laughter] And directly down the lawn and across the Ellipse from the White House are those ordered, classic lines of the Jefferson Memorial and the eyes of the 19-foot statue that gaze directly into the White House, a reminder to any of us who might occupy that mansion of the quality of mind and generosity of heart that once abided there and has been so rarely seen there again.
But it's not just students and Presidents, it is every American -- indeed, every human life ever touched by the daring idea of self-government -- that Mr. Jefferson has influenced. Yes, Mr. Jefferson was obliged to admit all previous attempts at popular government had proven themselves failures. But he believed that here on this continent, as one of his commentators put it, ``here was virgin soil, an abundance of land, no degrading poverty, a brave and intelligent people which had just vindicated its title to independence after a long struggle with the mightiest of European powers.''
Well, here was another chance, an opportunity for enlightened government, government based on the principles of reason and tolerance, government that left to the people the fruits of their labor and the pursuit of their own definition of happiness in the form of commerce or education or religion. And so, it's no wonder he asked that his epitaph read simply: ``Here was born [buried] Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of [American] Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.''
Well, as that epitaph shows, for all his learning and bookishness, Mr. Jefferson was a practical man, a man who made things, things like a university, a State government, a National Government. In founding and sustaining these institutions, he wanted them to be based on the same symmetry, the same balance of mind and faith in human creativity evidenced in the Lawn. He had known personal tragedy. He knew how disorderly a place the world could be. Indeed, as a leader of a rebellion, he was himself an architect, if you will, of disorder. But he also believed that man had received from God a precious gift of enlightenment -- the gift of reason, a gift that could extract from the chaos of life meaning, truth, order.
Just as we see in his architecture, the balancing of circular with linear, of rotunda with pillar, we see in his works of government the same disposition toward balance, toward symmetry and harmony. He knew successful self-government meant bringing together disparate interests and concerns, balancing, for example, on the one hand, the legitimate duties of government -- the maintenance of domestic order and protection from foreign menace -- with government's tendency to preempt its citizens' rights, take the fruits of their labors, and reduce them ultimately to servitude. So he knew that governing meant balance, harmony. And he knew from personal experience the danger posed to such harmony by the voices of unreason, special privilege, partisanship, or intolerance.
I do mean personal experience. You see, despite all of George Washington's
warnings about the divisiveness of the partisan spirit, Federalists and
Republicans were constantly at each other in those days. The Federalists of the
Northeast had held power for a long time and were not anxious to relinquish it.
Years later, a New York Congressman honored the good old days when, as he put
it, ``a Federalist could knock a Republican down in the streets of
that was politics in 1800. So, you see, not all that much has changed.
[Laughter] Actually, I've taken a moment for these brief reflections on Thomas
Jefferson and his time precisely because there are such clear parallels to our
own. We too have seen a new populism in
is this latter point that brings me to the
Only a few years ago, this would have seemed the most outlandish and dreamiest of prospects. But consider for just a moment the striving for democracy that we have seen in places like the Philippines, Burma, Korea, Chile, Poland, South Africa -- even places like China and the Soviet Union. One of the great, unnoticed -- and yet most startling -- developments of this decade is this: More of the world's populace is today living in relative freedom than ever before in history; more and more nations are turning to freely elected democratic governments.
statistics themselves are compelling. According to one organization, Freedom
House, in the past 15 years the number of countries called not free declined
from 71 to 50. And the countries classified as free or partly free increased
from 92 to 117. When you consider that, according to the Freedom House count,
70 percent of those not living in freedom are in
democratic revolution has been accompanied by a change in economic thinking
comparable to the Newtonian revolution in physics, and that is no accident.
Free-market economies have worked miracles in several nations of
In this atmosphere, we've continued to emphasize prudent but deepening development of economic ties which are critical to our economic health in the conduct of our foreign policy. In our own hemisphere, we're about to implement an historic free trade agreement between the United States and Canada that could well serve as a model for the world.
These democratic and free-market revolutions are really the same revolution. They are based on the vital nexus between economic and political freedom and on the Jeffersonian idea that freedom is indivisible, that government's attempts to encroach on that freedom -- whether it be through political restrictions on the rights of assembly, speech, or publication, or economic repression through high taxation and excessive bureaucracy -- have been the principal institutional barrier to human progress.
But if this remarkable revolution has not been obvious to many, certainly one other eye-opening change has been self-evident. Consider for just a moment the sights we've seen this year: an American President with his Soviet counterpart strolling through Red Square and talking to passers-by about war and peace; an American President there in the Lenin Hills of Moscow speaking to the students of Moscow State University, young people like yourselves, about the wonder and splendor of human freedom; an American President, only last week, with a future American President and the President of the Soviet Union standing in New York Harbor, looking up at Lady Liberty, hearing again the prayer on the lips of all those millions who once passed that way in hope of a better life and future -- a prayer of peace and freedom for all humanity.
yes, even this week in the devastation of
of those visuals you've seen in the last year is the signing of accords between
Mr. Gorbachev and me and the destruction of American and Soviet missiles. It
was more than just good television, more than just action news. The INF treaty
is the first accord in history to eliminate an entire class of
area where the achievements are visible is that of regional conflicts. In
the matter of human rights, we've also seen extraordinary progress: the release
of some political prisoners in the
finally, in our bilateral exchanges, we're seeing more Soviet and American
citizens visiting each other's land and a greater interchange of scientific,
cultural, and intellectual traditions. The summits themselves are indications
of the progress we've made here. I look to the day when the meetings between
the leaders of the
we're strong, steadfast; we succeed. In the
Now the democratic revolution that I talked about earlier and all the change and movement and, yes, breakthroughs that I've just cited on the diplomatic front can be directly attributed to the restoration of confidence on the part of democratic nations. There can be little doubt that in the decade of the eighties the cause of freedom and human rights has prospered and the specter of nuclear war has been pushed back because the democracies have recovered their strength -- their compass.
Here at home, a national consensus on the importance of strong American leadership is emerging. As I said before the Congress at the start of this year: No legacy would make me more proud than leaving in place such a consensus for the cause of world freedom, a consensus that prevents a paralysis of American power from ever occurring again.
Now, I think much of the reason for all of this has to do with the new coherence and clarity that we've brought to our foreign policy, a new coherence based on a strong reaffirmation of values by the allied nations. The same idea that so energized Mr. Jefferson and the other founders of this nation -- the idea of popular government -- has driven the revival of the West and a renewal of its values and its beliefs in itself.
But now the question: How do we keep the world moving toward the idea of popular government? Well, today I offer three thoughts -- reflections and warnings at the same time -- on how the Soviet-American relationship can continue to improve and how the cause of peace and freedom can be served.
First, the Soviet-American relationship: Once marked by sterility and confrontation, this relationship is now characterized by dialog -- realistic, candid dialog -- serious diplomatic progress, and the sights and sounds of summitry. All of this is heady, inspiring. And yet my first reflection for you today is: All of it is still in doubt. And the only way to make it last and grow and become permanent is to remember we're not there yet.
problems, fundamental differences remain. Our system is one of checks and
balances. Theirs, for all its reforms, remains a one-party authoritarian system
that institutionalizes the concentration of power. Our foreign relations
embrace this expanding world of democracy that I've described. Theirs can be
known by the company they keep:
So, we must keep our heads, and that means keeping our skepticism. We must realize that what has brought us here has not been easy, not for ourselves nor for all of those who have sacrificed and contributed to the cause of freedom in the postwar era.
this means in our treaty negotiations, as I've said: Trust, but verify. I'm not
a linguist, but I learned to say that much Russian and have used it in frequent
meetings with Mr. Gorbachev: ``Dovorey no provorey.'' It means keeping our military strong. It means
remembering no treaty is better than a bad treaty. It means remembering the
And finally, we need to recall that in the years of detente we tended to forget the greatest weapon the democracies have in their struggle is public candor: the truth. We must never do that again. It's not an act of belligerence to speak to the fundamental differences between totalitarianism and democracy; it's a moral imperative. It doesn't slow down the pace of negotiations; it moves them forward. Throughout history, we see evidence that adversaries negotiate seriously with democratic nations only when they knew the democracies harbor no illusions about those adversaries.
second reflection I have on all this concerns some recent speculation that what
is happening in the
For example, whatever the Khrushchev era may or may not have represented in Soviet internal politics, we know how aspirations for greater freedom were crushed in Poland and Germany and, even more bloodily, in Hungary. We also saw the construction of the Berlin Wall. We saw Cuba become an active client state, a client state spreading subversion throughout Latin America and bringing the entire world to the brink of war with the ``missiles of October.''
And let me assure you, Mr. Khrushchev gave no speeches at the U.N. like that recently given by Mr. Gorbachev. As one British U.N. official said about Khrushchev appearances there: ``We were never quite sure whether it was, indeed, Mr. Khrushchev's shoe being used to pound the Soviet desk or whether Mr. Gromyko's shoe had been borrowed or whether there was an extra shoe kept under the Soviet podium especially for banging purposes.'' [Laughter]
all of this was hardly encouraging for the growth of freedom and the path to
peace. We know too what happened in the Brezhnev era: greater and greater
this is changing. How much and how fast it will change we do not know. I would
like to think that actions by this country, particularly our willingness to
make ourselves clear -- our expressions of firmness and will evidenced by our
plain talk, strong defenses, vibrant alliances, and readiness to use American
power when American power was needed -- helped to prompt the reappraisal that
Soviet leaders have undertaken of their previous policies. Even more, Western
resolve demonstrated that the hardline advocated by
some within the
So, there was nothing inevitable about all of this. Human actions made the difference. Mr. Gorbachev has taken some daring steps. As I've said before, this is the first Soviet leader not to make world revolution a priority. Well, let us credit those steps. Let us credit him. And let us remember, too, that the democracies, with their strength and resolve and candor, have also made a difference.
And this is the heart of my point: What happens in the next few years, whether all this progress is continued or ended -- this is, in large part, up to us. It's why now, more then ever, we must not falter. American power must be exercised morally, of course, but it must also be exercised, and exercised effectively. For the cause of peace and freedom in the eighties, that power made all the difference. The nineties will prove no different.
this brings us to my third point: the relationship between the Executive and
the Congress. It's precisely where Congress and the President have worked
together -- as in
on-again, off-again indecisiveness on resisting Sandinista tyranny and
aggression has left Central
Founding Fathers understood the need for effectiveness, coherence, consistency,
and flexibility in the conduct of foreign affairs. As
Well, the President and the Vice President are elected by all the people. So, too, is the Congress as a collegial body. All who are elected to serve in these coordinate departments of our National Government have one unmistakable and undeniable mandate: to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. To this -- this foremost -- they must always be attentive. For a President, it means protecting his office and its place in our constitutional framework. In doing that, the President is accountable to the people in the most direct way, accountable to history and to his own conscience.
The President and Congress, to be sure, share many responsibilities. But their roles are not the same. Congress alone, for example, has the power of the purse. The President is chief executive, chief diplomat, and commander in chief. How these great branches of government perform their legitimate roles is critically important to the Nation's ability to succeed, nowhere more so than in the field of foreign affairs. They need each other and must work together in common cause with all deference, but within their separate spheres.
we live in a world in which America no longer enjoys preponderant power, but
must lead by example and persuasion; a world of pressing new challenges to our
economic prosperity; a world of new opportunities for peace and of new dangers.
In such a world, more than ever,
think if we can keep these concerns in mind during the coming years public debate and support will be enhanced and
issue before the world is still the same as the one that
I'm fond of recollecting that in the last years of their lives John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who had worked so hard and well together for the Nation's independence, both came to regret that they had let partisan differences come between them. For years their estrangement lasted. But then, when both retired, Jefferson at 68 to Monticello and Adams at 76 to Quincy, they began through their letters to speak again to each other, letters that discussed almost every conceivable subject: gardening, horseback riding, even sneezing as a cure for hiccups -- [laughter] -- but other subjects as well: the loss of loved ones; the mystery of grief and sorrow; the importance of religion; and, of course, the last thoughts, the final hopes of two old men, two great patriarchs, for the country that they had helped to found and loved so deeply.
carries me back,''
was their last gift to us, this lesson in tolerance for each other, in charity,
this insight into
A great future is ours and the world's if we but remember the power of those words Mr. Jefferson penned not just for Americans but for all humanity: ``that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.''
Thank you, and God bless you.
Mr. President -- and I think I can speak for everybody -- we really do thank
you for coming to UVA. But my question is: Considering that Lenin claimed that
the Soviets should let Capitalist countries fund the building of communism, I'd
like to know what is your position on granting
most-favored-nation status to the
The President. Well, we want to help
promote this democracy in the
But I think that there are differences between us and with this man. When we had the first summit at Geneva, and I'll try not to make my answers this long again, people more experienced in this who would be on our team told me that if we could get just the agreement to a second summit that the summit would be worthwhile.
Well, I had an idea of my own in the first meeting. And as we sat, they on their side of the table and my team on ours, I looked across the table at the General Secretary -- you know, I don't know which to call him; he's got three titles now: General Secretary, President, and Chairman -- [laughter] -- then he was the General Secretary -- and I suggested that why didn't we leave our teams here to start talking -- the subject that was raised was disarmament -- and why didn't he and I go out and get some air?
he jumped up before I even finished speaking. And out we went. And it was
planned; there was a fire in the fireplace. It was very cold that day -- down
in a little house along the lake from below where we were -- so we walked down.
And for an hour and a half, he and I had a meeting and a discussion. And then
we decided we'd better get back up to the regular meeting. [Laughter] And we
were just outside the building, and he said something to me about that I had
when I told our people that we were already scheduled for two more summits --
[laughter] -- in our two countries, they almost fell down. They couldn't
believe it. So, immediately we saw a great difference between this man and the
previous leaders of the
Mr. President, with regard to the recent developments with Yasser
Arafat and the PLO, do you feel that this marks a culmination of your policies
and your efforts to bring peace to the troubled region of the
The President. Well, it is merely a step forward to that because peace, which does not exist there -- most people forget that those countries are still technically are in a state of war with each other -- it's only going to come when the principals come together to negotiate. Outside, we have been trying to help, and internationally and so forth, with the other nations. And this has been a great step forward. And again, it was similar to our using strength and sticking to our purpose in other areas that brought it about.
We had said from the very first that there were these main points, the 242 and 338 [U.N. Security Council] resolutions, the recognition of Israel's right to exist as a nation -- which had never been advanced before -- and things of this kind that had to be agreed to before we could have a dialog with the PLO, which was the principal opponent. And when that took place, as it just did for the first time, clearly and without fuzzing it up with ambiguous dialog, when they met those terms, we said yes. And already the process is going forward to arrange for that dialog. But the peace must be brought about by the principals in the dispute, and we're hoping that this now is the main step that will lead us toward that.
Q. Mr. President -- and I would like to congratulate you on two completely successful terms as President -- my question is: Do you believe that your policies on terrorism have been effective, and will the Bush administration continue these policies or embark on new ones completely on their own?
The President. Well, I think that the
next administration -- if I'm correct in your question there -- yes, will
continue the policy. We adopted a policy of complete resistance to terrorism:
no recognition of a country that supported it -- and there were countries that
did. And I think an example, the shortest example that I can give you, was when
we had the irrefutable proof that Qadhafi of Libya
had been responsible for terrorism that took the lives of a number of people at
an airport in
And I'm going to knock on wood -- just one more line on that. Since that response, there has been no Libyan terrorist move against any -- --
Advice to Youth
Q. Mr. President, to many people my age, you're the only President we have known, or at least care to remember. [Laughter] I know I speak for many of us when I say your words carry very special significance. What advice do you offer us as we approach a new century in an ever more uncertain future?
The President. Oh! Oh! [Laughter] The age group 18 to 24 among voters is the one that is most definitely in support of the type of things that we've been doing in these 8 years. But now, I have to say to you, it is the age group also in which the fewest number, or proportion, vote. So, I would suggest to you -- because it's your world that we're talking about, and if you haven't gotten around to registering or bothering to vote, or you know someone that hasn't, make sure that age group of yours, who are going to have to take over the reins of government pretty soon -- that you make your views known in the polling place. I think this is most vital.
And then, oh, I could lobby for an awful lot of things -- [laughter] -- like a balanced budget amendment and a line-item veto. [Laughter] Your Governor has that. I had it when I was Governor of California -- the line-item veto.
Mr. President, welcome to the
The President. What do I feel was the
most important accomplishment? Well, I think in both of those that we have
redressed in foreign policy our strength. When I took office, on any given day,
half of the military aircraft of the
Today a higher percentage of our military are high school graduates -- and it's a volunteer military -- than ever in our history. And there are three intelligence brackets used in the military for the assignment of people as to what proper functions and so forth -- the highest percentage in the top intelligence bracket that we have ever known before in our military. And of all the things I'm proud of, I'm proud of the young men and women who are wearing our uniform more than anything. But this redressing of that -- but also, I came into office thinking that -- for some time I was thinking that there was a hunger for a spiritual revival in America, and I think that has taken place. I hear from more and more people talking about the pride they have in country.
the economic front -- I got a degree in economics. I didn't deserve it, but I
got it. [Laughter] But I took away -- I remembered something that happened
several hundred years ago -- [laughter] -- and it was a man named ibn-Khaldun in
So, I came away with the belief that you didn't gain revenue by raising taxes. And in fact, our whole national experience proves it. When Coolidge took to tax reductions, the revenue of the Government increased. And the same thing happened to a certain extent with President Kennedy's tax reduction, which was similar to ours.
So, one of my first goals was to unleash the economy of this country and get government off the backs and out of an adversarial relationship with the private sector so that the people of this country could do with their freedom what they were intended to do. That's all we really have done in this administration: We got out of your way.
And we have these people that still say that we have a target of 1993 for a balanced budget. And we're meeting that target on every step now. But these people that still are talking that we're going to have to raise taxes -- they'll undo the great economic reform. We have created almost 19 million new jobs in these several years of economic reform.
This personal disposable income after taxes has risen higher than it ever was before. And government revenues from the income tax increased by $375 billion since we implemented our tax reform and our tax cut. The trouble is spending increased $450 billion. I haven't had a budget yet. By law I have to submit a budget every year. I do, and present company excepted, the Congress just puts it on the shelf and sends me a continuing resolution of their own doing. [Laughter]
So, I think the great economic recovery. I have had the pleasure of facing a number of our trading partners, the heads of state of our trading partners -- Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and on and on -- in a meeting and had them -- I was the new kid in school. They'd all been there longer than I had. And they were sitting there silently, and then one of them, a spokesman, said, Tell us about the American miracle. Well, the American miracle was simply the unleashing of resources, and the last point was regulations. George Bush I put in charge of a task force to see how many government regulations he could eliminate. He eliminated so many that our estimate today is that the paperwork imposed upon you and on community governments and on State Governments has been reduced by 600 million man-hours a year. Well, I got too long on that answer. [Laughter]
President's Future Plans
Q. Mr. President, you are, of course, near the end of your second term. After the inauguration of George Bush, what does the future hold for Ronald Reagan?
The President. Well, you know, in
I think I'll be out on the mashed-potato circuit again, extolling the virtues
of line-item veto and a balanced budget amendment -- [laughter] -- and again,
defending the right of us to maintain our military defenses and so forth. And
I'm very tempted about the idea -- somebody's talking to me about doing a book.
And there are some backstage stories that I might enjoy getting out. [Laughter]
But I'm going to be active. I'm not going to be up at the ranch any more than
-- much that I've been able to on the visits that I occasionally make there.
But I'm going to be active. And I know that
Were you the last one, or is there a sixth? Did I miscount?
Mr. O'Neil. That was the sixth.
The President. That was the sixth? All right. I miscounted. [Laughter] Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at at Cabell Hall. He was introduced by Robert O'Neil, president of the university.