Public Papers - 1990
Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Representative Stan Parris in Alexandria, Virginia
The President. Thank you very, very much. It's a pleasure to be here. I am simply delighted to be here with Stan. We talked about this a couple of months ago. Given the schedule and the demands on one's time, I haven't been able to do as many campaigns strictly for congressional candidates. But as he said, and I will affirm, we are friends. We go back a long time. When I look for steady, constant, principled support in Congress, I've got it in Stan Parris. I just do not want to contemplate the alternative -- having another Massachusetts -- [applause] -- we've got enough Massachusetts liberals in the Congress as it is, and so we don't need any more. [Laughter]
So, it is a pleasure to be here and speak briefly because Stan is on our side. Even when there's a difference of opinion on an issue, he does it in a way where he stands for what you all elected him to do -- does it with principle and is most supportive of this President. And I am very, very grateful for that.
I want to single out only one person in addition to the two Parrises, and that's Judy Black, who is the campaign chairman. Her husband, Charlie Black, doing such an outstanding job as our major national party spokesman. And Judy, good luck to you on the last few days of this campaign.
But you know the record. Stan is not only a friend of mine and a friend of Northern Virginia but a friend of sound, conservative fiscal policies of all the American people. He and I have a special bond. I'm the one who taught him everything he knows about charisma. [Laughter]
I also trust his honesty and value his perspective on these major issues. He happens to be a big [University of] Virginia Cavaliers football fan -- that's the honest part -- and you know of his interest in transportation. I think he's overdoing it when he wants˙7E˙7E to˙7E˙7E move˙7E˙7E the˙7E˙7E University˙7E˙7E of˙7E˙7E Virginia to Fairfax County, but nevertheless -- [laughter] -- --
There is his record. He mentioned modestly the Korean war; but really he's a man that, as we wrestle with these problems halfway around the world, I think he understands the big picture. Served in the Korean war, returned to attend George Washington University, then practiced law, and then the Virginia House of Delegates, and served as secretary of the Commonwealth. He's been a superb, seven-term United States Congressman. He's on the side of what I think of as family values and traditional values, of every decent American who values growth and opportunity and prosperity. It all adds up to GOP, if you'll think of it. [Laughter]
You know, everybody is concerned in every area, municipal or rural, about transportation. Stan was one of the leaders, if not the key leader in the House, on this legislation which will complete this area's Metro system. I think it's long overdue, and I think it's something that you can give him great credit for having done.
He also is instrumental in this Korean War Memorial. I'm sure everybody here has been to the Vietnam Memorial. I've only been there a couple of times, but I can't help but shed a tear when I'm there. It is appropriate that those veterans be honored. Similarly, I think it's long overdue that we do have a similar monument -- a monument to those who served and gave their lives in the Korean war.
So, this is a man of broad perspective and great patriotism. We agree on a lot of the issues. I know how some of these newspapers around here feel, but I will continue to oppose statehood for the District. I support Stan's position. I don't think that's right. We've got a Federal city; it's special; it's the people's city for people from all over. And so, I am not a supporter of this statehood. I know that you can get into a lot of arguments about that, but I support Stan's position on that.
He reflects the good in, I'd say, decent, quiet people. He reflects their values. And he believes in government which serves the people, not the other way around. By that I mean he has stood up over and over again against this wealth of mandated programs.
You go across the river and you get up onto Capitol Hill, and all of those that control Congress -- these committees -- mainly the liberal Democrats, feel that the way to do it is for them to tell the people of Northern Virginia or Iowa or Texas or wherever exactly how they ought to solve the problem of housing or of education, health care, whatever -- mandated programs. And Stan has stood up against the mandated approach, believing that people should be free to choose, whether it's in education or in housing, or free to have diversity in something like health care. And so, I need that kind of philosophical support that Stan Parris and a handful of others give in the United States Congress.
I wanted to mention just a word on process and what recently happened: the Democrats trying to claim that it's the Republicans who favored the rich, this whole class warfare, this old divide-and-conquer mentality that we've heard every single campaign year of the Democrats when they talk about we favoring the rich and taxation. Let me just point out one thing that Stan stood up against, loud and clear.
When the Democrats passed a bill -- not the one that was finally enacted, a deficit agreement -- they passed a bill that they called a soak-the-rich tax bill. And their national chairman was jumping with joy because he thought -- and they had all these little ugly ads prepared, and they were claiming ``soak the rich.''
The part of the tax bill that they passed in the House that would have soaked the rich was billion on a surtax, which I fought against and we got removed, incidentally, in the final version. And there was a billion soak-the-working-man-and-woman through the indexing of income tax rates. And here they were, raising the class warfare charge of divide and conquer, divide and -- the ugliest kind of campaigning for America. We're not divided by classes as some other societies that are. We're the ones that represent the working man and woman through opportunity and growth.
But while they raised the surtax billion -- something that they shouldn't have done anyway -- and in the same legislation, billion on taxes on the working man and woman of this country. So, when you hear them say ``soak the rich'', if you're poor or middle in terms of income, zip up your wallet because they're coming after you. [Laughter] And that's exactly what they'd been doing in all this legislation over there.
I want to say that some good things have happened coming out of this Congress -- a lot of it because Stan has been very, very helpful to us. I'm very pleased that we at last have the amendments to the Clean Air Act. They're good; they're strong; they're reasonably well-balanced. And I think it sends a strong environmental message across this country. And I'm proud that we were in the forefront. This was our administration's goal early on.
And now, 18 months later, or whatever, we have the first and most successful amendment to the Clean Air Act in history. We obviously had Democratic support, but it was a Republican initiative. And we can take credit in that. We staved off a bill by the Democrats to make you eat broccoli. [Laughter] And I would veto that if it comes my way, you're right. [Laughter]
There's another issue that is really near and dear to the hearts of everybody, and it ties into our national drug strategy, which, incidentally, is beginning to work -- I'd say is working. Bill Bennett, our drug czar, has done a superb job; and he's managed to get this issue into the consciousness of all Americans. And we're really beginning to make progress, thank heavens. It's long, long overdue. But what we haven't done is back up the national drug strategy and the local police officers on the beat with strong enough crime legislation.
And Stan has stood for the kind of crime bill that I sent up to the Congress and that has been gutted by the liberal Democrats in the Congress. We don't need more people that are going to continue to have a little more concern about the criminal rather than the victim. We need people to do it the other way: more concern about the victims of crime and less about the criminals themselves. And that's where he is with us.
About a year and a half ago, across the river there, stood before the Capitol with a lot of police men and women to demand Congress pass a crime bill and pass it soon. That was about 18 months ago. And we hoped that this Congress, liberal though the committees that deal with this kind of issue are, would finally pass a workable Federal death penalty to protect America, to protect our police officers, those that are out there on the front line. That didn't happen. We hoped they would end the legal loopholes and technicalities that free the criminals and handcuff the police. That didn't happen. We hoped that we would give our prosecutors the tools they need to keep the criminals off the street and behind bars.
Seventeen months later -- eighteen -- the Congress passed a crime bill, a tough bill; and then they proceeded to weaken it, later, out of sight, in a back room someplace. And in the crush of final legislation -- Congress finally getting out of town -- the mutilation to this bill was itself a mugging, a legislative attack on this legislation that could only take place behind closed doors, because the American people have spoken strongly about the need for tough anticrime legislation.
And again, I am very grateful to Members of Congress like Stan Parris who stand up and encourage the passing of strong anticrime legislation. And look at the records on these. Quiz the opponent. See where he stands and whether it's just going to be some more passing of legislation that really doesn't give us the tools that we need. I got a little of what we wanted on our education program, but I'm going to continue to fight for parental choice in education. We got a day care bill that I think we can take great credit in, Stan, because it does preserve this great principle that parents should be free to choose and should be able to shape the destiny of their own kids without having a lot of mandates and decrees from Washington, DC.
So, in terms of my agenda, the thing that I was elected to perform on, we got some of what I wanted. We lost a lot of what I wanted. I had to digest some in the way of compromise that I didn't want. But a President from time to time does have to make the tough decisions, does have to do something that only a President has to do, and that is to govern. And so, I would say that it brings me, halfway through this term as President, to the view that I need more people like Stan Parris in the Congress who will back us -- you and me -- on what we believe is the best approach to these enormous problems facing the United States of America.
Let me just say a word -- and I want to say this, giving credit here at the outset to both parties -- I want to just say a word, because it's on everybody's mind, about the Middle East. And it's something that I live with 24 hours a day. And I think Vandenberg was right when he talked about partisanship stopping at the water's edge. And you know, we got away from that a little bit in the deviousness of Vietnam -- to some degree, Stan, Korea, but mainly the Vietnam experience. But in all candor and with all fairness, I would say I have been blessed by having strong bipartisan support for this policy in the Middle East; and I am grateful to the leaders, both Democrat and Republican, on this one. And so, I want to be sure, as I just answer a couple of questions here about a subject that's on everyone's mind, that I make this in a very nonpartisan way because it is essential that this country stay together in support of our kids halfway around the world.
I'm not going to dwell on this question, but I was asked by some of our friends in the press coming in here about my concerns in terms of the Embassy in Kuwait. And the answer is, yes, I am very much concerned about that. We have Americans -- some diplomats, some nondiplomats -- in that little Embassy in Kuwait. The American flag is flying over that Kuwait Embassy. The United Nations has called for resupply. The United Nations has passed yet another resolution of condemnation against this kind of brutal violation of international law; holding people against their will and desecrating embassies by isolating them and starving them.
And so, when I was asked, well, am I concerned or increasingly concerned -- I am increasingly concerned each day about this, because any President must have the concern of the safety of American citizens in the foremost position in his mind. And I said early on that one of the major goals of our policy was the concern about the safety of American citizens.
And so, as you look at what's happening halfway around the world, we've moved substantial force there -- substantial force. And I bet everybody in this room has some friend, son, daughter, cousin, brother -- whatever -- that's over there. And these are the finest, most highly motivated, best trained forces that have ever served in the United States armed services. They're all volunteers, and we have every right in the world to be proud of this kind of service to country and this kind of patriotism. So, we cannot let them down. And yet, at the same time, we cannot fail in our goal to wipe out this aggression.
You know, there are some interesting historical parallels here. And I shared with some the other day that I've been reading a book on the history of World War II. And some of you all that are still in school take a look back into history, into what happened when Hitler invaded Poland. There is a direct parallel to what has happened to Kuwait. The Death's Head regiments came in behind the regular armed forces of Germany. And the Death's Head regiments were those SS troops, and they came in and systematically wiped out a lot of Polish people, lined up kids and shot them. And the same things are going on in Kuwait today. It has been brutal. It has been aggressive. It has been totally in contravention of international law.
And I think it's my obligation as President of the United States to be sure that our citizens and the citizens around the world know just how strongly we feel about this naked aggression. And I'm not here to rattle a saber, but I am here to express my pride in the young people that are serving. And I'm here to restate, once again, that this aggression will not succeed. It is the United States' honor that's at stake here. It is the United Nations that is at stake here.
And so, I wanted you to know that I do carry with me in my heart every single day and night concern over these Americans, concern over our kids in the armed services over there, always, however, with great pride in their service. These are not easy times internationally. And again, I'm blessed to be supported by the American people in a support that transcends -- thank God -- transcends party politics.
Now, back to where we started. Please go out, work hard, and send Congressman Stan Parris back to the Congress of the United States.
Thank you all very much.
Note: The President spoke at 8 a.m. in the ballroom at Belle Haven Country Club.