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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-26 01:27:51
Typefacelarge in Small
On December 9, I was in Miami to open the Summit of the Americas, the first meeting of all the hemispheres leaders since 1967. The thirty-three democratically elected leaders of Canada, Central and South America, and the Caribbean were there, including forty-one-year-old President Aristide of Haiti and his neighbor, President Joaqun Balaguer of the Dominican Republic, who was eighty-eight years old, blind, and infirm, but mentally still sharp as a tack.

In early March, Yeltsin and I agreed to meet on April 3 and 4 in Vancouver, Canada. On March 8, Richard Nixon called on me at the White House to urge me personally to support Yeltsin. After a brief visit with Hillary and Chelsea, in which he reminded them that he was raised a Quaker and that his daughters, like Chelsea, had gone to Sidwell Friends School, he got down to business, saying I would be remembered as President more for what I did with Russia than for my economic policy. Later that night, I called Strobe to report on the Nixon conversation and to stress again how important it was that we do something at Vancouver to help Russia, with a high-impact follow-up at the annual G-7 summit in Tokyo in July. All through March, as I got updates from our foreign policy team and Larry Summers and his assistant David Lipton at Treasury, I pushed them to think bigger and do more.

I had had a lot of stones cast at me, and through my own self-inflicted wounds I had been exposed to the whole world. In some ways it was liberating; I had nothing more to hide. And as I tried to understand why I had made my own mistakes, I also attempted to figure out why my adversaries were so consumed with hatred, and so willing to say and do things inconsistent with their professed moral convictions. I had always looked with a jaundiced eye at other peoples attempts to psychoanalyze me, but it did seem to me that many of my bitterest critics among the Far Right political and religious groups and the most judgmental members of the press had sought safety and security in positions where they could judge and not be judged, hurt and not be hurt.

Just as I was determined to focus on economics in the run-up to the debates, the Bush camp was equally determined to keep undermining my character and reputation for honesty. They were facilitating a search request with the National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland, for all the information in my passport files on my forty-day trip to northern Europe, the Soviet union, and Czechoslovakia back in 196970. Apparently, they were chasing down bogus rumors that I had gone to Moscow to pursue anti-war activities or had tried to apply for citizenship in another country to avoid the draft. On October 5, there were news reports that the files had been tampered with. The passport story dragged out all month. Though the FBI said the files had not been tampered with, what had occurred put the Bush campaign in a bad light. A senior State Department political appointee pushed the National Records Center, which had more than 100 million files, to put the search of mine ahead of two thousand other requests that had been filed earlier, and that normally took months to process. A Bush appointee also ordered the U.S. embassies in London and Oslo to conduct an extremely thorough search of their files for information on my draft status and citizenship. At some point, it was revealed that even my mothers passport files were searched. It was hard to imagine that even the most paranoid right-wingers could think that a country girl from Arkansas who loved the races was subversive.

Yeltsin was up to his ears in alligators, and I wanted to help him. I was encouraged to do so by Bob Strauss, whom President Bush had sent to Moscow as our ambassador even though he was an ardent Democrat and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Strauss said I could work with Yeltsin and give him good political advice, and he urged me to do both.


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