Night had fallen on Washington, DC. The intense struggle for power that characterized the city abated as the day came to an end. Members of the political and economic elite—most of them Whites—had gone home, but the homeless—most of them Blacks, as was the vast majority of the city’s population—were looking for a bench to spend the night on. This was no time to stay out. Criminality was rampant, guns abounded, and the pot-holed streets, broken meters, and dilapidated neighborhoods indicated that the city was broke and that municipal power had failed. Nevertheless, this was the capital of an intensely patriotic people with a proud military record, and, in the glimmering white presidential palace, not far from the monuments dedicated to the heroes of the war of independence, on 15 September 1994, the president prepared to inform his fellow citizens in a national television address that the country was about to go to war. As was his habit, William J. Clinton probably finished his speech at the last minute, changing sentences as he went through the text. As was their habit, operators of the teleprompter probably grumbled that they would never be ready, while political advisers wondered whether their boss would deliver a speech he had had no time to prepare.1 As usual, the pres-ident was perfect. While grave and presidential, he managed to reach everyone’s heart by appealing to the nation’s idealistic instincts.


Fellow Citizen United Nations Security Council Economic Elite Clinton Administration Aircraft Carrier 
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© Dr. Philippe R. Girard 2004

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  • Philippe R. Girard

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