birthdays, Clinton, life, Politics

The memories I wear

October 7, 2021

Back in the 90s, I spent some time truckin’ around the country reporting on presidential politics for the Voice of America, trying to make sense of our quadrennial circus for a radio, TV, and eventually online audience all over the world. The gig could be fun but was far from cushy and was often demanding (try explaining the Electoral College to people overseas who don’t learn about it in school like we do).

Along with a few extra pounds and the ability to function on zero sleep, I picked up a ton of memorabilia: buttons, press badges, coffee mugs, and t-shirts. The shirts acquired holes, shrank, and languished in a drawer – until my wonderful wife turned them into the best birthday present I’ve received in all my years.*

She scanned the graphics from half a dozen of these relics and combined them into the extremely cool new garment I’m wearing above. It’s a visual diary of the times, spanning Republican and Democratic campaigns, nominating conventions, and debates. Most of the shirts were made by the parties, though the one with the Bill Clinton caricacture was done by an NBC crew under the title “Camp Pain,” which was a running joke among the press for several election cycles.

Those days were so hectic that the who, what, when, where, and why are mostly a blur. However, this gift brings back memories, especially of all the great VOA journalists who helped me along the way, even the editor who kept me up half the night rewriting a debate story that didn’t meet our standards. He’s gone now, but is probably looking down and hoping I’ll get this one right. (I’m working on it, Jack.)

Between the pandemic and the reminder that I’m getting older, I’d been feeling a bit blue about my birthday. No more. Next time I’ll tell you about the workday on the campaign trail that began in a mob of screaming kids and ended 23 hours later amid the fragrance of a paper mill. Take care and be safe.

*A classified number. Let’s just say I’m too old for Paul to serenade me with, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

Shirt back with slogan Journalism Maintains Democracy.
You better believe it!
coronavirus, Covid 19 pandemic, Florida, football, Politics

A pandemic diary: Un-unmasking

July 28, 2021

My daily life won’t be affected by the disheartening but necessary call for vaccinated people in many places to wear masks indoors again. I never stopped using an N95 in public areas, both out of respect for others and to extend my personal shield as far as possible.

I take no pleasure in knowing I was on the right track. The warning is driven by the finding that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant can carry as much viral load as the unvaxxed, which means they may spread it to others. I’m not at all surprised that the CDC reversed course. I wish like hell that they’d done it before now. According to the New York Times, six weeks ago (June 14) my county in metro Atlanta reported 12 new cases and a seven-day average of 27. Yesterday we hit 282 cases with an average of 208.

Some accuse the CDC of flip-flopping or inconsistency. IMHO, the guidance should apply nationwide, not just where cases are surging, but it changed for a good reason: the data changed. This is natural. In my lifetime, there were serious people who claimed space flight was impossible because there was nothing up there for rockets to push against. You might recall that weather forecasters don’t keep predicting tropical-storm-force winds after the storm blows up into a hurricane.

Forget science: I’ll put this in the language of the least vaccinated part of the USA, the South or more precisely the the Southeastern Conference, stretching from Columbia, Missouri to Gainesville, Florida.* This language is football.

Let’s suppose Alabama’s new quarterback lights up the Florida secondary in the first half but in the second, the Gators’ edge rushers get into the backfield and he’s running for his life. Does Coach Nick Saban stick with the same blocking scheme? If you think so, you haven’t got the brains God gave geese, and he didn’t give geese much. (Nothing personal, y’all.)

Of course, we wouldn’t need masks if more of us got the jabs. That’s why, as a retired federal employee, I strongly support the vaccination mandate for the government. Like members of the armed forces and all civilian feds, I took an oath to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This virus is our enemy but we can win. Take care, mask up, and be safe.

*The home of those Gator fans who never call. But that’s another story.

Covid 19 pandemic, Florida, life, Politics

A pandemic diary: Small, slow steps

Man offering hand to shake.

May 11, 2021

First actual handshake in fourteen months? Check, and it felt great. Unmasked conversations with other vaccinated people? Check. Go face-naked outdoors? Check. Feel a lot less paranoid about doorknobs, mail, packages, keypads, and waiting-room furniture? Double-check!

Toss the hand sanitizer altogether? Nuh-uh, not for me, not just yet. This also goes for indoor dining, theaters, and live music, even with distancing and reduced capacity. Though I’m vaxxed and local cases are down, the risk is still there, largely because Georgia is crawling with anti-jabbers who’ll likely stop us from ever reaching herd immunity.

I wish I could stop saying this, but after surviving the last year, I’m not risking my life for a meal or a movie. Not even Gulf shrimp, my favorite food in the world, or an IMAX double feature of “Bull Durham” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” could tempt me into an unsafe space. Speaking of which: a couple of malignant cretins recently staged a rally where a thousand people were jammed into a room designed for 400 to create the image of an overflow crowd. That’s the oldest trick in the political campaign book. Many in the over-55 audience are probably vaccinated. It’s still brutally irresponsible.

Grocery shopping in-store with a cart? Probably never again. Online ordering and curbside pickup save time, and more importantly, spare my aging feet from trudging over concrete floors. I don’t need to stand there pondering fifteen varieties of arugula, especially since I don’t even eat the stuff. (Tastes like grass clippings.)

Go back to the office? I’m retired, but if I had a full-time gig I’d want to WFH as much as possible. My last position was essentially virtual, with colleagues from Seattle to Denver to DC, and we always got the job done. (However, online chat can be more annoying and less productive than the water-cooler kind). Take care and be safe.

coronavirus, Covid 19 pandemic, new old age, Politics, Trump

A pandemic diary: Fear and loathing and more loathing

November 21, 2020

Street with piles of debris from hurricane.

Thanksgiving my ass. Square one and ground zero is where we are, for the third bloody time. We’ve ridden the roller coaster of pain and poverty, death and despair for nine months, but there’s no delivery, no blessed event in sight.

As I’ve written before, my wife and I are among the fortunate (and grateful). We’re well and have a full fridge, health insurance, and no children, grandkids, or aged parents to sweat over. People in our part of Atlanta are good about wearing masks, and the Georgia case counts are a fraction of the appalling numbers in the Midwest. But they’re rising. Again. And we’re stuck inside. Still.

At our age, we’re at high risk by default. No movies, social bubbles, or dining out, because the stakes are too damned high. We don’t go anywhere except to the doctor or the stores with no-contact curbside pickup. Meanwhile, the physical and emotional side effects are piling up like debris from a hurricane. For me, that means more and louder episodes of tinnitus, which goes sky-high when I’m stressed.

I’d be less stressed if I could stop getting mad, but I’m fuming at more people than I can count. This includes the entitled little bastards at my school who refuse to give up parties, and the university president whose half-measures jeopardized the whole town, where I spent seven years and still have friends. Don’t even mention the boobs who insist on holding their usual big-family, Martha Stewart-perfect Thanksgiving. They might spend Christmas standing around a grave in a Midwestern winter.

If you want some Thanksgiving spirit, watch this, which IMHO pretty well sums up the whole year. Take care and be safe.

2020 election, Covid 19 pandemic, Politics, Trump

One man, one vote

October 14, 2020

1940s voting ad: Do your duty! Go to the polls and VOTE!

My voting is done. It felt almost anticlimactic, filling out my ballot at the dining room table, signing it, and slipping it into the dropbox, which I’m sure is secure. Many years ago I was young and dumb enough to sit out an election. But if I had to, I’d stand in line all morning, all day, and all night until Kingdom come to cast this vote.

There’ve been long lines all over Atlanta since early voting began. The pandemic isn’t stopping anybody. On the first day, the line at our local polling place stretched for a couple of blocks, which is a lot of determined voters even if they’re six feet apart. Today it was shorter but still ran from one end of the building to the other, everyone wearing a mask and keeping their distance, waiting patiently in the sun. The scene was civilized and for 2020 as normal as could be: no right-wing protestors, “observers,” or gun-toting goons in sight.

Here in the northern suburbs, the Trumpsters seem to be in retreat. Driving through our old neighborhood, which used to be solid Republican, we saw lots of Democratic signs and some for local GOP folks, but just one for DT.

Of course, the campaign’s not over, North Georgia is about to send a QAnon crackpot to Congress, and the presidential vote could swing either way. But it hasn’t been this close in Georgia since I moved here in 2001. There’s hope. Vote, spread the word, take care, and be safe.

coronavirus, Covid 19 pandemic, football, Politics

A pandemic diary: Blue’s gone

August 13, 2020

Michigan quarterback running away from defender.

One Saturday in 1972 I walked out of the dorm where I’d lived for a couple of weeks, joining some new friends and what seemed like the whole town on the way to my first college football game. It was a clear, bright September day, nippy enough for a jacket, but even a three-foot blizzard wouldn’t have stopped us. (That kind of Michigan weather event really doesn’t happen much, at least not in the first week of the season.)

We hiked from the area known as the Hill at the northeastern edge of campus, past the libraries and lecture halls and down the main drag to Michigan Stadium, a couple of miles, but we were young and fired up. It didn’t matter that we had the worst seats in the Big House, high and dead center in the end zone. The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper, set the scene: “For most, the game itself is secondary — if noticed at all. More important are the good vibes picked up, the energy released by 80,000 bodies getting back into the swing of things after an eight-month hiatus.”

For me, it was the party of a lifetime. I still remember the vast crowd, the shouting and laughter and cheers, the perfectly synchronized marching band, cheerleaders doing backflips and cartwheels, all the pageantry. I’d never cared much about sports or school spirit in high school because all I wanted was to graduate and move on, but now I belonged.

With the drinking age being 18, there was plenty of booze in the stands back then. The Daily even ran a pre-game story headlined, “The cost of getting drunk,” and comparing prices. (You could pick up a fifth of Ripple at Campus Corner for 89 cents.) The times being what they were, the “vibes” also included weed: “As pungent mist rises above young people’s heads, the ubiquitous joint is passed as commonly as a cigarette.”

Oh yeah, the football. With three minutes left in the first half, Michigan’s sophomore quarterback, who was making his first start, fired a touchdown pass right in front of us. The rest of the game was, as the paper said, “a bummer,” as neither team could score. Final: Michigan over Northwestern, 7-0. Ugly as a mud fence, but otherwise a great day in what was already an exciting freshman year.

I attended almost every home game for the next four seasons. Except for a long-ago lean period when I didn’t own a TV, I’ve caught at least some of the action every year since. Until now.

The Big Ten had no choice but to cancel everything. Playing a contact sport in a raging pandemic defies common sense. But we wouldn’t be trapped in this catastrophe if some of us had used common sense, like wearing masks and listening to the doctors instead of the flag-waving fruitcakes. We’ll probably lose Halloween next, followed by Thanksgiving. Have fun watching your folks eat the turkey on Zoom.

Michigan T-shirt and ball cap.
Back to the closet ’til next year

coronavirus, Covid 19 pandemic, history, life, Politics, Trump

A pandemic diary: The view from the cheap seats

June 7, 2020

Back in 1974, during the first impeachment crisis of the modern era, I rode a bus all night from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Washington. We arrived just as the sun rose over the National Mall, where many thousands of us gathered to demand that President Nixon be thrown out of office. Several years later I joined an even bigger rally in Central Park, part of a worldwide call for a freeze in production of nuclear weapons. These days, though I absolutely support the protests, I’m staying home, because I have to be safe.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about how this hellion attacks us. Last week, it came out that people with Type A blood may be more likely to need oxygen and ventilators. It is well-established that people in my age range are among the most susceptible. I can’t afford the risk of standing in a crowd for hours, with everybody chanting and shouting and many of them not wearing masks. My first responsibility is to my wife: to keep myself healthy and above all, do nothing that might make her sick. And I’m not the only one who’s worried about a post-protest surge in cases.

What I did instead of hitting the streets was vote in the Georgia primary, for people who will end the lunacy and put us on the road to real change. I cast my ballot by mail, like plenty of others did, but I also saw a block-and-a-half-long line stretching around a polling place. Even with six feet between voters, that’s a hell of a turnout for a primary. These are probably not the folks who are happy with the status quo.

Absentee ballot sleeve.
Enclosed and delivered

I don’t mean voting should supplant protest. Both are vital. I’d love to be back on the Mall in January when President Biden takes office and hopefully, we have a vaccine or at least an effective treatment for the virus.

For now, words and a little music will have to do. This is “Black & White Wall,” written decades ago by the great Chicago bluesman Jimmy Johnson, and still ringing true. Take care.

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history, Politics, War

How many more?

Fifty years ago (May 4, 1970) I was a sophomore in high school. Everyone was stunned, the atmosphere in the building hushed, uncomprehending. That day or the next, we had an assembly, about which I remember nothing except a girl singing, “Blowin’ In the Wind.” The song below still sends chills up my spine.

Too many had already died before Kent State, especially people of color, and more would die at Jackson State soon after. How many have died in the time it took me to write this? How many more? How can you run when you know? How many more, goddamn it, how many more?

Allison Krause
Jeffrey Miller
Sandra Scheuer
William Schroeder

life, Politics

This post might be a failure

Stop the presses! No: stop the world, right now. Physics be damned. Not kidding. If we turn all our missiles and SpaceX vehicles upside down and fire the engines at once, it might work like a supersize retro-rocket and stop this poor planet before the humans get any more cuckoo.

How bad is it? Well, the college admission scandal, in which one-percent parents bribe elite schools to get their kids in, is just the illegal tip of a societal iceberg. It goes beyond helicopter parenting into “lawnmower” or “snowplow” parenting: clearing obstacles, melting black ice, and removing anything that stands between Junior and success. In other words, we’re trying to stop our young from growing up. I’m no scientist but this strikes me as the fast train to extinction, if climate change doesn’t get us first.

We’re already seeing the problems facing young “adults” who don’t know how to live on their own or deal with adversity and (shudder! gasp!) failure. In a lengthy piece on this craziness, the New York Times reports, “There are now classes to teach children to practice failing, at college campuses around the country and even for preschoolers.” Let me repeat that: There are now classes to teach children to practice failing.

I sure didn’t need to practice failing when I was growing up. Without even trying, I failed at being cool, impressing girls, getting parts in school plays, learning guitar, making the grade in my original college major, and especially sports. In baseball I usually wound up in right field, where they put the worst player because most batters hit to left or center. But thanks to a teacher, I learned to deal with mistakes and defeat.

Mr. Turner was an assistant gym teacher when I was in junior high, the 60s version of middle school. I didn’t know much about him, except that he was one of the few African-Americans on the staff and might have been ex-military because he sometimes sounded like a drill sergeant.

But one day we were playing softball and I struck out. Mr. Turner noticed me walking around with a frustrated, disgusted look on my face and asked why. When I told him what’d happened, he said, “Willie Mays strikes out sometimes, but you know what he says? ‘Next time I’ll do better.’”

That was the most valuable lesson I ever learned. In the next inning, a long fly ball came my way and I caught it. I did better. I’ve dropped a few since, but I’ve never forgotten what Mr. Turner said.

Being the age I am, I’m tempted to quote Bob Dylan: “There’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all.” However, another song fits better: “Pick Yourself Up,” written during the Depression and quoted by Barack Obama in his first inaugural address: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Our children can’t finish the job if we don’t let them remake their own lives.

I hope this post is a success. Your opinions are welcome as long as you don’t tell me to hire a snowplow. “Go stick your head in a snowdrift” is perfectly okay.

2020 election, Clinton, history, Politics, Trump, War

A statesman speaks

Senator John McCain.

When you’re a reporter covering Congress, you listen to an awful lot of speeches. Many of these breathless bulletins concern vital issues like National Cub Scout Month and the renaming of post offices. Speeches can be pompous, sanctimonious, badly reasoned, highly partisan, dull, hypocritical, long-winded, or all of the above. They’re sometimes thoughtful or heartfelt. Once in a while they can be truly memorable.

I can count on about half of one hand the great speeches I heard in my six years of reporting on the Hill, but one was given by Senator John McCain, who was just diagnosed with brain cancer. It came in 1995, during a late-night debate on a resolution of support for the deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the former Yugoslavia. Their mission was to support the peace accords that had just ended a bloody, sometimes genocidal war.

Most Republicans strongly opposed President Clinton’s decision to put American boots on that ground. As McCain’s address made clear, he did too. But he believed that once the decision was made — even by a Democrat — Congress had a duty to stand behind the troops. He was also determined that the operation must not become another Vietnam.

I don’t agree with a lot of what McCain has done since. I didn’t vote for him for president. But what he said that night has stuck in my mind because of its depth of emotion, honesty, sincerity, and sheer eloquence. His words weren’t canned rhetoric or talking points; they were drawn from life and hard experience. When comparing Bosnia to Vietnam, the former prisoner of war spoke with unfiltered anger and sorrow, but also with pride.

I was once on the other end of the relationship between the military and their civilian commanders. I served with brave men who were sent by our leaders into a calamity–a war we would not win. We were ill used by our political leaders then. We were ill used by many of our senior commanders. I saw good men lose their lives, lives that were just squandered for a lost cause that the dying believed in, but that many of the living did not. Their cause was honor, their own and their country’s. And they found their honor in their answer, not their summons. I will never forget that. Never. Never.

He accepted responsibility for backing a mission that might cost American lives. I know what I am doing. I know that by supporting this deployment, if not the decision, I must share in the blame if it ends disastrously

He admitted feeling conflicted and anguished but concluded the United States can’t withdraw from the world, as the current president seems determined to do. We cannot leave the world alone. For the world will not leave us alone.

So I will support this mission, with grave concern and more than a little sadness. I will support my President. I will, I believe, support my country and the men and women we have asked to defend us. I give my full support, whatever my concerns. And I accept, fully, the consequences of what I do here today. I ask my colleagues to do so as well.

This is the kind of language we rarely hear in the Capitol, let alone on Twitter. The full text is below, with the quotes above and some other portions highlighted.

Mr. (Senate) President, like all other Senators who have spoken today, I wish this debate were not necessary. I agree with those Senators who have said that they would not have undertaken the commitment made by the President of the United States to deploy American ground forces to Bosnia to implement the tenuous peace that now exists there. But that is no longer the central question of our deliberations this evening. The President did so commit and our obligation now goes beyond expressing our disagreement with that decision.

Many of us did disagree, as is abundantly evident by the number of Senators who support the resolution offered by Senators Hutchison, Inhofe, Nickles, and others, yet we all recognize that the President has the authority to make that decision.

The troops are going to Bosnia, and any prospect that Congress could prevent that deployment disappeared in the overwhelming vote in opposition to prohibiting funding for the deployment, the only constitutional means we have to reverse the President’s decision.

Our troops are going to Bosnia. Congress should do everything in our power to ensure that our mission is truly clear, limited, and achievable; that it has the greatest for success with the least risk to the lives of our young men and women. That is our responsibility, as much as the President’s.

The resolution that the majority leader and I have offered does not ask Senators to support the  decision to deploy. It asks that you support the deployment after the decision had been made. It asks you further to condition your support on some important commitments by the President which I will discuss in a moment.

I intend to give that support, and I commend the majority leader for exercising extraordinary leadership in trying to influence both the nature and security of our mission Bosnia as well as the outcome of the peace process there, to which we have made such a profound commitment.

I believe Senator Dole has significantly helped to improve both the security of our forces and the likelihood that the cause they have been asked to serve–peace in Bosnia–will endure beyond the year our forces will be stationed in that troubled country.

He has accomplished these important objectives by securing assurances from the administration that our soldiers will only be expected to perform those tasks for which they are trained, and will not be ill-used in nation-building exercises. Moreover, he has secured the strong commitment from the President that the United States will lead efforts to establish a stable, military balance in Bosnia which is the only undertaking that can be realistically expected to secure a lasting cease-fire there. Those commitments were well worth our efforts, and, again, I am grateful to the distinguished majority leader for his honorable and effective statesmanship in this effort.

Mr. President, what we should all strive to avoid is giving anyone–anyone–in Bosnia the idea that the American people and their elected representatives are so opposed to this deployment that the least provocation–violent provocation–will force the President to withdraw our forces. I do not want a single terrorist, a single Mujaheddin or Bosnian Serb sniper to think that by killing an American, they can incite a political uproar in America that will compel the President to bring our troops home.

That is my first reason for supporting this deployment. I want our enemies to know that America–not just the American force in Bosnia–but all Americans are in deadly earnest about this deployment. Attacks on the safety of those troops should, and I believe will, be met with a disproportionate response. That response will not include abandoning the mission. We must begin now to impress upon all parties in Bosnia that any assault on the security of our soldiers would amount to nothing more than an act of folly on the part of the assailant.

Mr. President, opponents of the President’s decision often claim that there is no vital United   States security interest in Bosnia that would justify the risk of American lives to defend. I have long agreed that there was no such interest. But there is now. There are the lives of 20,000 Americans to defend. And anyone who thinks they can achieve their own political ends by threatening our troops should be forcefully disabused of that notion, and should not be encouraged in their action by the misperception that the American people and the U.S. Congress are not united in steadfast support of our troops, their safety, and the mission they are now obligated to undertake.

There are other important American interests involved in this deployment. All the parties to the Dayton agreement have stated unequivocally that should the United States renege on its commitment, the peace will collapse and hostilities will resume. We will then watch Bosnians suffer again the mass murder and atrocities that have repulsed all people of decency and compassion.

Moreover, Mr. President, abjuring our commitment now would do considerable damage to NATO, the most successful defensive alliance in history. Many Americans may wonder why we need to be concerned about NATO in the wake of the Soviet Unions’s collapse. But, Mr. President, the world still holds many dangers for our security, and our enemies are far less predictable than they once were. We will need our friends in the future, as much as they need us now.

Lastly, Mr. President, I want to talk about the relationship between the Nation’s credibility and the credibility of its chief executive. In an earlier statement on this question, I asked my Republican colleagues to place as high a premium on this President’s credibility abroad, as they would place on a Republican President’s.

I asked this because the reliability of the President’s word is of enormous strategic value to the American people. The President’s voice is the voice of America. When the world loses faith in the commitments of our President, all Americans are less safe–and somewhere down the line American vital interests and American lives will be lost.

The credibility and authority of the President of the United States, and the security of American soldiers, compel our support of their deployment. They are vital interests worth defending whatever our current political differences may be with the President.

Again, by supporting the deployment, I do not confer my approval of the decision to deploy. As I have already stated, I would not have committed American ground forces to this mission, had that decision been up to me. But the decision has been made, by the only American elected to make such decisions–the President of the United States. And I have construed my responsibility in these circumstances as requiring my support for efforts to maximize the prospects for success of the mission and minimize its obvious risks.

My support, and the support I urge my colleagues to give this deployment by voting for the resolution before us, has been characterized by the media as grudging. Fair enough. But let me be clear, I do not want to feed the cynicism of the public–or any members of our free press who might succumb to cynicism from time to time–should they conclude that by our resolution, and our votes preceding this one, that we are trying to avoid speaking clearly in support or opposition, and evade any responsibility for our own actions. I know what I am doing. I know that by supporting this deployment, if not the decision, I must share in the blame if it ends disastrously. I will accept that responsibility–not happily, but honestly, just as Senators who supported the prohibition on funding for the deployment would have had to accept the blame for the problems that would have occurred if they had been successful in preventing the deployment.

The President will be accountable to the families of any American soldier who dies in service to his country in Bosnia. He will have to answer for their loss. But so will I. I fully accept that in my support of the deployment, and my efforts to influence its conduct and its termination, I incur this obligation.

Beyond offering expressions of sorrow and regret, we will have to tell those families that they bear their terrible loss for the sake of the country. Nothing–absolutely nothing–is harder than that. Just contemplating such a responsibility makes me heartsick.

This may be the hardest vote I have cast as a Member of Congress. It may be the hardest vote I will ever cast. To send young men and women into such evident danger is an awful responsibility. I don’t envy the President. Nor do I envy the Senate.

I was once on the other end of the relationship between the military and their civilian commanders. I served with brave men who were sent by our leaders into a calamity–a war we would not win. We were ill used by our political leaders then. We were ill used by many of our senior commanders. I saw good men lose their lives, lives that were just squandered for a lost cause that the dying believed in, but that many of the living did not. Their cause was honor, their own and their country’s. And they found their honor in their answer, not their summons. I will never forget that. Never. Never.

If I have any private oath that I have tried to abide by in my public service it is that I would never ask Americans to serve in missions where success was not defined, the commitment to achieve it uncertain, and its object of less value than its price.

I pray today that I have kept my oath. I will pray so every night for as long as this mission lasts. I wish the people of Bosnia peace. I wish them peace because they deserve that blessing, but even more importantly because the lives of many fine young Americans have been ransomed to that peace. I know that these Americans will perform magnificently, under very difficult circumstances, to secure the objectives of their mission. They will reflect, as they always do, great credit on themselves and on the United States, as they seek again to secure the peace and security in which another people may secure their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Mr. President, I learned about duty, its costs and its honor, from friends who did not come home with me to the country we loved so dearly, and from friends who overcame adversity with far more courage and grace than I possessed. I have tried to see my duty in this question as they would have me see it.

In the difficult decision–and it is difficult for reasons greater and more honorable than political advantage or disadvantage–our sense of duty may lead us to different conclusions. I respect all of my colleagues for seeking to discharge their solemn responsibilities in this matter after careful deliberation and with honest reasoning.

But I want to make one last point to those Americans–and I do not include any of my colleagues in this category–who oppose this deployment and this resolution because they resent the costs of America’s leadership in the world. The burdens that are imposed on the United States are greater than the burdens borne by any other nation. There is no use bemoaning that fact or vainly trying to avoid its reality. This reality will be so for as long as we remain the greatest nation on earth. When we arrive at the moment when less is expected from our leadership by the rest of the world, then we will have arrived at the moment of our decline. We should accept that burden with courage. We cannot withdraw from the world into our prosperity and comfort and hope to keep those blessings. We cannot leave the world alone. For the world will not leave us alone.

So I will support this mission, with grave concern and more than a little sadness. I will support my President. I will, I believe, support my country and the men and women we have asked to defend us. I give my full support, whatever my concerns. And I accept, fully, the consequences of what I do her today. I ask my colleagues to do so as well.

I ask all Senators to support the Dole resolution, irrespective of their views over the policy that brought our soldiers to Bosnia. I ask for your vote as an expression of support for the American soldiers who, summoned to duty in Bosnia, will find their honor and ours in their answer. I ask for your vote to help reduce the threats to their welfare, and increase the chances that the cause for which they risk so much may succeed, and endure long after they have come home to a grateful nation.

And I ask God to bless the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who will render their Nation this great service; to bless the President; to bless the Congress; and to bless the United States. We are all in great need of His benevolence today.

(text from the Congressional Record)