Mr. President, this is Ed Bradley in New York. There are many people who would question our system of criminal justice today in the United States--in fact, many people who have lost faith in our criminal justice system. With so many people languishing on death row today for so many years, how can you say with such assurance that justice will be certain, swift, and severe?
We still will have freedom of speech. We'll have freedom of association. We'll have freedom of movement. But we may have to have some discipline in doing it so we can go after people who want to destroy our very way of life.
You know, we accepted a minor infringement on our freedom, I guess, when the airport metal detectors were put up, but they went a long way to stop airplane hijackings and the explosion of planes and the murdering of innocent people. We're going to have to be very, very tough and firm in dealing with this. We cannot allow our country to be subject to the kinds of things these poor people in Oklahoma City have been through in the last few days.
I don't want to interfere with anybody's constitutional rights. But people do not have a right to violate the law and do not have a right to encourage people to kill law enforcement officials and do not have a right to take the position that if a law enforcement officer simply tries to see them about whether they've violated the law or not, they can blow him to kingdom come. That is wrong.
I think what I'll miss the most is the work, the job, the contact with all kinds of people and all kinds of issues, the ability to make a difference, to solve problems, to open up opportunities for other people. There's almost no--not almost, I suppose there is no job like it in the world. It's been an unbelievable thrill and a profound honor, and I will miss it very much.
On balance, I think the two-term tradition has served us well. I'm glad President Roosevelt served the third term, because of the war. But on balance, I think it's served us well. Now, you know, I'm young, and I'm strong, and I'm, as far I know, in good health. I love the job. And so if I could serve again, I probably would. But I think that's the reason we have this limit, so that people like me don't get to make that decision.
I believed when I got here that there was a chance that we could have a very long period of economic growth. Now I couldn't have known, when we started and we started slashing the deficit and investing more in technology, that we would have the longest economic expansion in history that would even outstrip wartime when we had been fully mobilized.
I would remind you that in the United States we had an increasing gap between the rich and the poor for about 20 years, as we moved into this new economic phase. The same thing happened when we changed from being an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. In the last 2 or 3 years, we started to see the gap close again. And the answer is not to run away from globalization. The answer is to make change our friend. The answer is to have broad access to information and information technology, to have broad-based systems of education and health care and family supports in every country, and to continue to try to shape the global economy.
All over the world people are embracing democracy and market economics. But if you enjoy the level of military and economic strength we have and the level of political influence, people are going to resent you.
I have done everything I could as President to try to organize the permanent Government, the people who will be here when I am gone, and the Congress to deal with the long-term threat of biological, chemical, and small scale nuclear war, as well as the increasing sophistication of traditional weapons.
We've got plenty of talented people. We just need to be imagining the future, thinking about all the problems as well as all the opportunities, and then prepare. Society always has problems; there are always misfortunes. But basically, I believe the future is quite promising and far more exciting than any period in history. I wish I were going to live to be 150; I'd love to see what happens.
I think the most important thing is for me to be a useful citizen of this country and of this world, because I've had opportunities here only my other living predecessors have had. And I think that for me to be able to continue the work I've done in racial and religious and ethnic reconciliation and trying to convince people that we can grow the global economy and still preserve the environment and trying to empower the poor and the dispossessed, in trying to spread the universal impact of education and use technology to benefit ordinary people, these kinds of things--I think I should continue to do this work and trying--I want to get young people into public service. I want them to believe this is noble and important work.
So I think, in a word, I have to be a good citizen now. That's the most important thing I can do when I leave office is to use the maximum--to the maximum extent I can, the knowledge that I have, the experience that I've gained to be a really good citizen.
I look around this office, and I see a desk over there that President Kennedy sat at. And I remember the story he said about the Presidency, and one of the great things about the Presidency was he could walk to work.
Some worry--and Seattle might be an indication that we're looking at the possibility of a great gap between a two-tier system, between the haves and the have-nots of the world, those who get it with technology and those that don't.
Do you hear around the world now, as I'm sure you've heard from heads of state and others, this kind of unilateralist--America in the future is too strong, too dominant, and the fear of a backlash against us.
What's interesting about a conversation about the future with you is that because of this office and your curiosity, you see and know more than almost anyone. I mean, you are aware because you talk to the scientists; you talk to people responsible.
It's the old notion about if the tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did the tree fall? Can you--are there things that we don't know about that alarm you? This sense of science and where it's at and what's coming down the pike that gives you great pause?