Remarks of President Bill Clinton

Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner

Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C.

March 14, 1995


Thank you all for inviting Hillary and me to this wonderful evening. I am told that this is the largest group of radio and television correspondents ever assembled away from a Los Angeles courtroom.

I know that trial has been tough on the Washington press, cutting into your airtime. I watched a few minutes last week as the camera zoomed in on Judge Ito's computer monitor. There was an urgent e-mail message from Wolf Blitzer begging for a recess.

This is my third year coming to these dinners. Every year when we come here, Hillary and I recognize more and more faces. But I noticed a few who are missing. This year, PBS could not afford a ticket for both MacNeil and Lehrer. At least that's what Louis Rukeyser told me when he checked my coat at the door.

It's a shame that PBS has gotten caught in all this political crossfire. It's now Day 69 of the Contract, and the Republicans are starting to hedge. It turns out the fine print of the Contract reads 100 business days.

Have you noticed that the Republicans are suddenly all up in arms over affirmative action now that the Democrats are a minority?

This week, one of the issues on the Hill is term limits. I've made my position clear: I'll settle for two terms -- no ifs, ands, or buts.

There are so many Republican candidates for President, the operator at L.L. Bean told me they are back-ordered on red-flannel shirts. And mine won't arrive until June.

But as I've said, I'm just going to keep doing the job the American people elected me to do and let the rest take care of itself. And we have lots to do. I was working on a Saturday a couple weeks back, trying to get to the things a President hardly has any time to do during the regular work week: reinventing my filing system, adding up my frequent flier miles on Air Force One and doing some spackling in the Roosevelt Room.

The Vice President was also in that day, mulching the environment in the Rose Garden. He came into my office and the next thing you know, we were brainstorming on new ideas to streamline government.

Maybe it was because it was the weekend and we were relaxed, but we came up with ideas that had never occurred to us before. Exciting ideas. Breakthrough ideas. Third Wave ideas. Here, let me read you the list:

Right off the bat, we discovered an extra "C" at the FCC. Not a bad start.

We asked: do we really need North and South Dakota? But given the Balanced Budget Amendment vote, we ended up deciding that we should propose a Central Dakota.

Quite graciously, the Vice President suggested we do away with the White House Christmas Tree and, next year, just hang the decorative ornaments on him.

Leon came by. He said that, given what he deals with every day, we could save money if we put him in charge of FEMA as well.

We said we could combine the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Just call it "Joint Chiefs."

Then the three of us figured out a way to re-organize the White House staff: replace fifteen thirty-year olds with five ninety-year olds. Now we were getting somewhere.

Other people came by.We discussed opportunities for entrepreneurship. Instead of salaries, we could put the President and Congress on commission. Forget deficits. We'd be turning a profit in no time.

We could seek corporate sponsorships for government events. Make February 12th Lincoln-Mercury's Birthday.

Someone said: "We can do better marketing. We should put Ed McMahon's picture on IRS refund checks." . . . Just imagine: envelopes from the Treasury Department with the words "You may already be a winner."

Someone suggested we cut back the Defense Department. But that is where I drew the line. Let me make this clear: I will not allow the Pentagon to be reduced to a triangle.

Then, we came to the issue of school lunches. And I believe we have found a much better way to save money through streamlining, so we don't have to deprive children of their lunch. One word: Spork. [President holds up a "spork"]

It's a cross between a spoon and a fork. Now that is streamlining. The "spork" is the perfect symbol for my Administration. Because I have long believed the choice between utensils is a false choice. The spork is neither spoon nor fork. It defies labels. It is the third way.

We decided to combine the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms with both the Bureau of Fisheries and the Interstate Trucking Commission. We'd call it "The Department of Guys."

You'll be relieved to hear one consolidation we rejected out of hand: the F.B.I.R.S.

We were coming up with so many ideas, I couldn't write them down fast enough. We even talked about moving the U.S. Senate to New Hampshire to cut down on commuting costs.

And then, finally, we had the best idea of all. The idea that is sure to streamline government and cut out all the things that make people so angry at Washington. Borrowing an idea from tort reform, we want to clamp down on frivolous campaigns. I say we make losers pay for the winner's campaign. Retroactive to 1992. Now that's good government.

Just another Saturday afternoon at the White House. That's the kind of thinking you can get when you put a bunch of motivated people in a room who don't get enough sleep.

Well, I could go on forever. But you already know that. So let me thank you for hearing me out. For 51 years, you've gotten together and invited people to join in celebrating the best in the electronic media. And while times change, our purpose for coming together does not. It's nice to enjoy the company of people who work in the same town and to get to know each other a little better. Whether we always know it or not, we are all linked here -- by our interests and concerns and most of all, by the people we serve in our different ways. In this time of change, we all have our work cut out for us.

Thanks again for having us here tonight. I know the next speaker, Bill Maher, has a TV show named Politically Incorrect. Out of respect for him, I have tried very hard tonight not to be "politically incorrect." So I know we would all appreciate it, Bill if you would try not to be Presidential.

Thank you and good night.

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