W`s Foreign Policy Speech
Jude Wanniski
November 22, 1999


It wasn't bad, to tell you the truth. It was clear you were reading it word for word as it had been prepared for you by your foreign-policy advisors, and you seemed awfully young as you delivered it word for word. Still, it was better than I thought it would be. Very general, of course, so there was some sniping from your contenders that you strung together pontifical platitudes. Still, they were instructive platitudes. You were also criticized for not opening yourself to questions immediately afterward, and I thought that was a valid critique, but then you agreed to spend an hour with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, which I watched with great interest Sunday morning. You were very impressive, I must say: knowledgeable, confident, responsive, even spontaneous at times. Really.

My negatives have to do with Russia and China. I did think you were on the mark in saying we should not interfere in the Russian political process now unfolding. We want the Russians to figure it out for themselves. Then again, you said that unless Moscow does what you say it should do in Chechnya within the next two months, you would recommend cutting off all aid. That sounds like interference in their political process. Next, you said that while we are cutting off aid to them, we should also expect them to be cooperative in getting rid of the loose nukes that abound in their country, that we should send aid to get them to dismantle loose nukes. It sounds to me like you have several different foreign-policy teachers and you are taking ideas from them as if it were a menu at a Chinese restaurant. About China, you did say we should not be protectionist or isolationist, but seemed to indicate you are prepared to go to war with the People's Republic of China if they harm a hair on Taipei's head. Tim Russert gently probed, but only gently, asking what you would do if Beijing attacked. Ha, ha... we would act according to the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, you said. If Tim had his wits about him, he would have asked you to explain your understanding of that Act, inasmuch as it might mean World War III. But time enough for that.

One error I think you made in the Meet the Press interview -- saying you would not meet with the Log Cabin Republicans, as if they were commie rat finks instead of harmless gay men. You need another teacher to explain to you that the President should be available to meet with any constituent group. You don't have to meet with all 270 million Americans. That would be tiresome. But you should be prepared to receive the petitions of all the special interest groups, even if you ultimately reject their requests. The President has to represent all Americans, even Log Cabin Republicans.

Otherwise, I tell you with all sincerity that I am more prepared to vote for you next year than I was before I heard your speech and watched you on Sunday. You are making progress.