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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at an Antidrug Rally in Santa Ana, California

1990-03-02

Thank you, Jim Everett. And let me say how much I respect you and appreciate the work you're doing to help the young people not just here but all across the country. You are an inspiration to all of us, and thank you very much for welcoming me. I'm also glad to be with Governor Deukmejian, who has done an outstanding job for the State of California -- outstanding. And I want to thank Fred Travalena and my old friend and supporter, Chuck Norris, for being here with you all today -- great examples for the young people. And there are some people up here with me that certainly deserve our thanks for making this fantastic day possible -- another friend of mine, a man I respect, Sheriff Brad Gates, over here. And Mike Hayde, the president of ``Drug Use Is Life Abuse'' -- what a job he's doing. And the board of directors of that great organization, including Dr. Robert Schuller, Georgia Frontiere. Also up here is some of Orange County's congressional delegation, and others as well -- Bob Dornan, Dana Rohrabacher, Chris Cox, Dave Dreyer. And I also have to salute one of America's best teachers, my old hero -- singled him out a couple of years ago -- Jaime Escalante.

Thank you, and Jim Everett, again, thank you for that warm introduction. I heard that someone asked Jim if he was excited about being with the President here today, and he said, ``No, not as excited as I'll be next year when we're invited to the White House after the Rams win the Super Bowl.'' No matter what team you like, you've got to admit that Georgia Frontiere has built one of the toughest teams in pro football. Who says there's no role for women in combat? I've got a confession. Although I love pro football, my first love is pro baseball. And if the Angels are looking for replacement players, I hope they'll remember that I played first base. But I have a confession to all the Angels fans. My son is the managing owner or partner of the Texas Rangers. And I asked him if I could come try out for the club, and he said, ``Sure, Dad. You can come down and throw the ball around. But don't give up your daytime work.'' [Laughter]

It's great to be back in Orange County. Southern California is a place of both beauty and bounty, blessed with some of the greatest wonders of nature and some of the most wondrous works of man. And it's home to many of America's oldest traditions and newest ideas -- the computerized pirate ships of Walt Disney, the real-life cowboys of the Irvine Ranch. And Orange County is a special place -- a place that boasts productive lands, productive minds, and productive people and one of the youngest and hardest working populations in the entire country. And standing here today in Orange County, leading the way into a new decade and a new century, it's easy to see why many young people are looking to the future with a new sense of hope and seeing a world of limitless possibilities.

Something is happening in the world -- something new, something powerful, something wonderful. Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Havel, who began the year as a prisoner and ended it as President of Czechoslovakia, summed it up in his visit to Washington last month. Things are happening so fast, he said, that ``we have literally no time even to be astonished.'' And today the wind rushing down from the mountains is not the fierce menace called the Santa Ana wind, but the new breeze that I spoke about when taking office a year ago. It has swept around the world, bringing new hope in Europe, new hope in Africa, new hope in the Americas. Vaclav Havel, free at last. Nelson Mandela, free at last. And Nicaragua and Panama, free at last.

And just as people around the world are casting off the oppression of dictators, so people across America are casting off the oppression of drugs. Week by week, day by day, millions of Americans in thousands of towns are standing up to make the same courageous choice: drug-free neighborhoods, drug-free schools, and drug-free kids. And anyone who thinks that our great country lacks the will to win the drug war better take a look at the spirit that we have here today in this stadium right here in Orange County. It is fantastic. I know you'll win this war. You have what a longtime resident of Orange County, John Wayne, had -- true grit. In one of his classic western movies, John Wayne spelled it out in his simple, all-American, pointblank style. He said: ``There's right and there's wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one, and you're living. You do the other, and you may be walking around, but you're as dead as a beaver hat.''

As he did in the conduct of his own life, in that movie John Wayne stood for right; he stood for life. And today in Orange County, thousands of you have made that same choice. You've stood up for right. You've stood up for life. And you sum it up in a phrase: ``Drug Use Is Life Abuse.'' That slogan -- the power of that slogan -- the slogan is powerful in its simplicity. And the logo itself is apt. In it, the word ``life'' is literally torn apart, just as the lives of our young are torn apart and destroyed by the nightmare called cocaine.

While visiting Orange County last spring, I commended the Los Angeles Rams for having every player wear a ``Drug Use Is Life Abuse'' patch on his uniform -- a move that was copied by tens of thousands of local fans and student athletes here. The Rams wore the patches for a year. And a Rams spokesman said, ``If it dissuaded one young man or young girl from doing drugs, it was worth the whole year.'' And I agree. In order to win, America's war on drugs must be total war -- waged from the boardroom to the classroom, from the White House to your house. No element of our society is immune -- certainly not the world of professional sports. And I think the patches were a mighty good idea. Fighting drug abuse isn't a personal message; it's a public service. ``Drug Use Is Life Abuse'' is the right message because its goal is not punishing those who are hooked on drugs, but deterring kids from ever getting started. That message is beginning to sink in. By now just about everybody knows this simple truth: Drugs aren't the answer. They never were. And they never will be.

And recently, we've seen some scattered but hopeful new signs of progress against the horror of drugs. It began last summer, when a major nationwide survey found that the number of current drug users in America had dropped by almost 40 percent in just 3 years. And then just 2 weeks ago, another new survey showed that the number of high school seniors using drugs declined again last year, a long-term trend that has brought seniors' drug use to its lowest level in 15 years. Let's keep it going.

There are so many other hopeful signs, visible in every city in America. In my old congressional district in Houston, Texas, the people got together and took back a park from the drug dealers. In Alexandria, Virginia, I visited a neighborhood where they hold all-night vigils every Friday to keep the pushers away from the kids. And then in the heartland, Kansas City, I saw these boarded-up crack houses bearing the six-word victory banner of the local activists -- the words ``This neighborhood fights back against drugs.''

And right here in Orange County, thousands are doing their part. I think of heroic cops like Santa Ana police investigator Henry Cousin. Although severely wounded in a drug raid 3 years ago, Henry wouldn't quit. He joined a special Federal task force and recently helped take down the biggest drug seizure in Orange County history. And I think of heroic mothers like Santa Ana's own Rosa Perez, who fought in Santa Ana for 6 years to rid her neighborhood of pushers.

But the battle isn't only being fought in the streets. About a year and a half ago, I came to Los Angeles for one of the most critical moments in the campaign: the 1988 Presidential debate up there at UCLA. And they asked if there were any heroes left in America. I named an astronaut, an AIDS researcher, a freedom fighter. And I named a high school mathematics teacher from East L.A., a teacher who helped his Hispanic students see beyond poverty and neglect to the real potential of their own minds. Jaime Escalante, Investigator Henry Cousin, Mrs. Rosa Perez -- three heroes, two cities, one dream. All three are here today, and all three deserve our heartfelt thanks. No, with your help, we've covered a lot of ground in the drug war. But tough challenges remain. It's like when the Rams offense crosses the 50-yard line: with every yard you gain, your opponent digs in and progress gets that much harder, not easier.

Make no mistake. Drug abuse in this country is still far too widespread. There's far too much suffering, far too many wasted lives. But we're going to beat drugs the same way the Rams beat many of their opponents: relentless offense, a defense that refuses to give up a single yard to the opposition -- or a single child to these merchants of death. And I might add that I was delighted to be greeted earlier on by so many law enforcement officers from this area. God bless them, and God bless those line officers out there in the streets, helping every one of you kids up here in the stands. Thank you all. Against drugs, a good defense means reducing demand -- and through efforts like the record funding my administration has devoted for increased drug education, treatment, and criminal justice. And a tough offense means an attack on all fronts.

Last month's drug summit in Cartagena, Colombia, marked a good day for the rule of law and a very bad day for the cocaine cartels. I was glad I went to Colombia to support that courageous President of Colombia who was trying to keep the drug dealers where they belong -- in jail. President Barco's courageous crackdown has seized or destroyed their cash, their homes, their labs, and their drugs. And 14 accused traffickers have been extradited to the United States and now face American justice in courtrooms in Miami, in Tulsa, Atlanta, and in San Francisco. The days of the drug lords may not be over yet, but their days are numbered. And we're going to keep up the fight on the supply side.

You heard the Governor mention it, but let me repeat it. Here at home, my administration recently named the Los Angeles Orange County as one of the Nation's five ``high intensity drug traffic areas,'' a designation that means increased Federal enforcement manpower for the region. And nationwide, Congress -- and bless these Congressmen here that are supporting our efforts -- Congress has approved funding for the new agents, new prosecutors, and new prisons that we asked for to catch, convict, and contain America's most dangerous drug offenders. But Congress also needs to act, and act soon, on my new anticrime proposals. Congress needs to provide tough laws to deal with a tough problem. Working together, we can -- we will -- defeat this scourge.

America has earned her victories through determination and desire. And we will win the war on drugs because we must. Just 2 nights ago, right here in Orange County, two cars were pulled over carrying nearly 900 pounds of cocaine. And thanks to your courageous antinarcotics efforts, four million doses, with a street value of million, will not poison our kids. And that is desire and that is determination. And let no one doubt the commitment we have in Washington as well. The White House has declared war on the crack house. And the only enemy response we'll accept is unconditional surrender.

Thank you for your warm greeting. God bless you all. Keep up the fight. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:35 p.m. in the Santa Ana Bowl. In his opening remarks, he referred to Jim Everett, quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams; entertainer Fred Travalena; and actor Chuck Norris.

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