Opinion

Letters to the Editor

Editor: I write to you with great concern and disappointment regarding your Nov. 14 article on the perceived lack of political activity at UCSD during this past election. A profoundly large number of students played key, active roles in this current election cycle. Political groups on campus flourished with the heightened awareness that the election brought. Thousands of students registered to vote on campus and showed up to the polls on Election Day, yet the Guardian, for whatever reason, failed to report on such activities. With a current membership of over 150, the College Democrats at UCSD organized and mobilized an unprecedented political awareness campaign on campus this past year. The College Democrats began a voter registration campaign at the beginning of fall quarter and registered students to vote on Library Walk every day for nearly a month straight. The College Republicans and Students for Nader also participated in successful voter registration efforts. We at the College Democrats were able to register over 1,300 students, faculty and staff. Resident Advisors, student organizations and even professors asked representatives of the different political organizations to speak at various voter information sessions. A number of UCSD students were even hired by various local candidates and issue-campaigns during this past election cycle. And yet, the Guardian, fully aware that these activities were occurring, failed to report on any of these highly visible and important events. There were a number of political rallies and activities at UCSD during this past election cycle as well. UCSD was a particular hot spot, attracting local, national and international press coverage of the various events it held. The College Democrats brought author and activist Gloria Steinem, now Congresswoman Susan Davis, and now Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe to UCSD for a lunch-time rally. The A.S. Council sponsored a debate between congressional candidates Susan Davis and Brian Bilbray. Students for Nader welcomed the Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Medea Benjamin to campus, and the College Republicans scheduled Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell to visit campus; all in an honest and noble attempt to raise student political awareness and participation on campus. On Election Day, the College Democrats organized nearly 100 students wearing bright yellow t-shirts and placed them throughout campus and in phone banks encouraging students to vote and be part of the process. As a result of our mobilization efforts, there was a dramatic increase in on-campus voter turnout compared to previous election cycles. And yet, the Guardian claims that there was no political activity on campus and that student turnout was nearly nonexistent. To say that political activity lacked on campus is simply false statement and an indication that the Guardian is desperately out of touch with the pulse of the student body. Instead of filling your pages with claims that left-wing bigots are running rampant throughout campus, I would encourage your writers and editorial staff in the future to report on the long hours and positive work that the various student political organizations devote toward breaking the stereotype of youth apathy toward the political process. The students of UCSD should be commended for their participation in this past election. Whether they simply made it out to the polls on Election Day, or sacrificed countless hours toward an issue they were passionate about, the students of UCSD demonstrated an inspirational spirit and an unwavering commitment to their community, their nation and the political process. Terry Schanz President, UCSD College Democrats ...

A Trip to India Offers a Slew of Experiences

Some go to India for spiritual enlightenment. Others go for a chance to connect with their roots. And others, well, they go for the pashmina shawls. I, however, went for a carefully blended mixture of all three. Except I also left the luxuries of a “”first-world”” nation in order to escape from the chaos of school, a broken heart, and other tragedies. When I strapped myself into the seat on a Singapore Airlines Flight, my stomach lurched as the plane took off — not because of the sudden altitude climb, but because so much had happened in the week prior to my departure that had stained whatever good feelings I had going to India. For one thing, I received a D and a F respectively on my first two Bio midterms (I hope my parents aren’t reading this) and even my last-ditch effort to redeem myself on the final which I aced (in comparison to the midterms) wasn’t enough to get me more than a C in the class. So much for medical school. I had also destroyed any integrity I possessed by becoming foolishly infatuated with someone who reacted with more amusement than annoyance (thank God) to my poor attempts at conversation, but will probably always think of me as that “”hairy psycho.”” To top it off, I behaved like a rotten brat when I screamed at my mom for not packing the proper clothes for me and wailed to my best friend that not only had I destroyed my first quarter grades, but also terrified an innocent boy in the process. Yet, thanks to the makers of UNISOM (a sleeping aid) and some fervent prayers, I drifted out of my tortured conscience and fell asleep for a few hours on an airplane filled with crying babies, cantankerous adults and a serious shortage of cute guys. When I finally arrived in Delhi, India’s capital, after an arduous journey that consisted of tens of hours in agony, sitting in a poorly ventilated plane, I was ready to kiss the ground. Well, almost. As I strode confidently into the waiting arms of my relatives, I was filled with a satisfaction that everything would be all right. I would 1) finally figure out the meaning to life (as I was assured by my father that I would be able to interview his holiness, the Dalai Lama, due to my grandfather’s connections) 2) wow attractive foreign Indian guys with my amazing prowess in cosmopolitan fashion and etiquette (yeah, right) and 3) lose 10 pounds due to the absence of delicious American brand chips, candies, cookies, etc., that I have a special fondness for. All my problems would be solved. Once I shed my “”baby fat,”” (although I’m a bit too old to use that phrase) flashed my dimples, and learned how to coordinate my balance with my high heel shoes, I would be the hottest thing to hit India since Gandhi. Or so I thought. My plan quickly unraveled when I realized in Delhi, it was much more practical to wear my lucky Batman T-shirt (a far cry from sophisticated elegance) and scruffy tennis shoes to avoid having dust and dirt and cow dung being splattered everywhere. As I tried to find my niche in Delhi among a plethora of cows, cars and people, I found myself losing my desire to portray myself as a sophisticated American when I had so much to learn from the people and places around me. I suddenly felt ashamed that I wanted to lose weight when skinny four- and five-year-old children were approaching me, asking for a few cents so they could eat. I felt overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and a stronger feeling that in college I had hardly given a thought to someone in desperate need of food or shelter. Although I was not in the least as benevolent as Mother Teresa when I was in Delhi, I tried my best to make amends for my arrogance by slipping those children money and chocolate when my relatives weren’t looking. But if I had any stains on my soul due to my sins, I certainty thought I could erase them when I boarded a box of cardboard that faintly resembled a functioning aircraft as I set off for Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama spends much of his time in between his hectic schedule. I was nervous for two reasons during the flight. One was my concern that I couldn’t think of anything terribly profound to ask or say to and the second was that the pilot of the craft which held nine people, including me, excused himself out of the cockpit to get a newspaper and a sandwich. My goal of wowing the Dalai Lama with an eloquent vocabulary changed as the turbulence rolled and shook the aircraft (while the pilot caught up with the latest news in India) and switched to merely getting the chance to see the Dalai Lama while I was still alive. As the plane finally landed on the thin airstrip set in the middle of a field (we had to circle around a few times because a stray dog had parked itself on the “”runway””), I became giddy with excitement. Not only would I impress the Dalai Lama with my excellent verbal and written skills but my interview with him would be so thought-provoking and ground-breaking that I would no doubt impress my editors and eventually win the Pulitzer Prize. My hopes were dashed however as soon as I set foot in Dharamsala when someone gently broke the news to me that the Dalai Lama was on vacation and would return a few days after I was scheduled to return to Delhi (providing I survived the plane ride back home). So much for spiritual enlightenment. Yet, even without meeting the Dalai Lama, I felt I learned a lot while walking the same paths that no doubt he walks often while in the town. I explored Buddhist temples, joined various nationalities as they participated in their religious rituals and sparked conversations between a variety of merchants and professionals walking the dirt roads. Sure, electricity was unreliable, the food was repetitive, and showers were hot buckets of water, but I survived. There were difficult times, of course. Me walking in on my grandmother taking a shower was quite troubling, and when I became sick and had to use the restroom numerous times, the theories and discussions about my condition by various people outside the door were quite irritating as well. But I suppose this is what the journey of life is all about (if I can attempt to sound philosophical for a moment): good moments and bad moments and several in-between moments. When I got back to Delhi, I got over the fact that in the end, after much hoopla, I never did end up meeting the famed Buddhist spiritual leader. I had, in fact, met so many other people who had taught me a lot about Buddhism and a humble existence that I often hear little about in my environment here. Although, interviewing him wouldn’t have looked too shabby on a resume. As the trip wound down and I arrived in Bombay, I became a little homesick, content that I had discovered many things in my parents’ homeland but anxious to see my family and friends again. That feeling soon disappeared, however, when I hit the town with my cousins and siblings on my birthday and New Year’s with a slightly more svelte self (throwing up nine times and suffering from food poisoning twice clearly contributed to this) determined to once again show India’s millions and millions of people what they would soon be missing when I returned home. I lost my inhibitions as I shimmied alone up on a dance stage (due to the fact that a cute guy had approached my 16-year-old sister to dance and not me) and was suddenly transformed from insecure adolescent to confident vixen. Well, almost. Tripping head first over stairs kind of brought me back to my senses again. But all in all, taking a trip to an exotic land was well worth it, even if my poor stomach endured a lot of pain. It opened my eyes to the plight of others, helped stretch my own imagination and encouraged me to be more confident in my own abilities. It also made me realize that losing a little weight didn’t exactly give me the magic pill of happiness I desperately craved. Oh, and I think my heart is OK again. Besides, I think my former crush has a gorgeous girlfriend anyway. Luckily, my experience in India has enlightened me to what’s really important in life: sanitized food, good music and, of course, family and friends. Although a romance with a dashing Maharaja would certainly have been nice. ...

Christmas Eve was Herald to a Bad Break

Life is full of irony, isn’t it? The holidays are supposed to be a time of joyous celebration. Well, my holidays were of no such things, to say the least. True, I do not celebrate Christmas, but I still got a few gifts. Some dress shirts, a J. Crew tie and a bottle of Issey Miyake cologne. Great gifts; I like them all, especially the cologne. I’ve been meaning to buy it for a while now. It has this light citrus smell to it. But in light of another present, it all seems so … futile. Santa Claus was generous enough to deliver his gift for my entire family early this year. It came in the wee morning of Christmas Eve (at 3 a.m. actually, as opposed to later that night). Not a thing was stirring, not even a mouse, when the phone call ruptured the silence. I stumbled to bed only an hour before my uncle called. Brrrng! Brrrng! My eyes popped open. Brrrng! Brrrng! My mother picked up the phone. A few minutes later, I could hear her hang it up. My father woke me up in the morning to inform me of Santa’s gift. But he didn’t have to. I’m no fool – I knew exactly what the news was. The entire family, for almost a year, knew this present would eventually arrive . And like a lump of black coal, none of us were anxious to get it. It doesn’t take a fourth-year English Literature with an emphasis in Asian-American works to ascertain that there was a death in the family. My paternal grandfather passed away Christmas Eve. He was a whopping 92, almost 93. He had been sick for almost a year, in and out of the hospital a couple of times. This time, his kidneys failed him. He left behind a slew of daughters and sons, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. My two brothers and I were his, as the Vietnamese saying goes, “”cream nugget,”” or “”cream-filled center.”” Vietnamese pastries are often filled with a sweet paste or cream, and what the idiom basically means is that my siblings and I were his favorite grandchildren. We came to the United States when we were very young and were able to make the most of it: We are, more or less, successful in our lives. We went, or in my case still go, to prestigious schools and have, in my brothers’ cases, thriving careers. If you were Asian, or at least Vietnamese, you would understand the importance of this to grandparents. Despite this bestowal of pride on the three of us, we were never close with him. I do not have a lot of memories of interaction between my grandfather and myself. I do distinctly remember one, though. Bear with me as I retell it. When I was younger, my family would often drive from Sacramento to San Jose to visit my grandparents at my uncle’s house. This time we were spending the weekend there, so I lugged along my box of G.I. Joe figures. It was morning. I remember it being cold. I brought out my box to the living room. My grandfather sat down next to me and picked up one of the figures, probably wondering to himself what the hell I was playing with and why the figures were so damned ugly. I proceeded to explain to him the figure’s name (I think it was Hydro-Viper) and what weapons he had and what he could do. He picked up another one and I again told him about that figure. As I had mentioned, we were not particularly close. As sad as I am over his death, I didn’t find myself grieving at his funeral. I am more sorry for my grandmother than for myself. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that practically everyone was sniffling when my grandmother, tottering on her cane, slowly approached the casket to light an incense stick and to view her husband of 70 years for a final time. I don’t know why I’m writing all this. There isn’t a real point to this column. Maybe it’s more of a catharsis for me. Or perhaps it’s an opportunity to better cope with the irony of this past holiday season. Well, it’s not working. ...

Letters to the Editor

Editor: In light of the recent developments in the Middle East, we strongly feel that this issue ought to be properly addressed. Having said that, the events as addressed in the article “”Peace Vigil Unites Students,”” published on Nov. 16, give an unrealistic impression of peace in the Middle East. We have seen leaders such as Clinton, Barak and Arafat attempt to construct “”peace”” along illusory lines, which sadly but expectedly culminated in the latest Al-Aqsa Intifada. We can talk all we want about peace, but when the core human issues of justice and freedom are ignored, peace loses its meaning. We cannot achieve peace along false lines. More importantly, the line in the article stating, “”The vigil primarily concentrated on Christians, Jews and Muslims”” is questionable. If this was the case, then why was the event organized at the same time that the Muslim Student Association held its Islamic Awareness event, thus making it difficult for the group to attend? Secondly, the Arab Student Union and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee were not contacted. If you ask us, the planning was shady and casts doubt on the intentions of the organizers. Moreover, the quoted words of Rabbi Goldstein, “”It is important to understand that what happens there, happens there, but here is our own world”” take away from the severity of the situation and our moral responsibility as citizens of the United States and human beings on this planet to guard against the suffering of innocent populations. Let us not forget that our own president is at the forefront of the situation. Let us not forget that what happens here greatly affects what happens there, as the actions of the United States since 1948 have determined the developments in the region. In conclusion, when we get together to hope for peace, we cannot turn a blind eye to the source of the conflict, which is largely about occupation, independence, and self-determination, rather than the way it is misrepresented in the mainstream American media. Even if Jerusalem were a desert, devoid of holy places, the conflict would be no less fateful. After all, this is an issue of basic human rights to property and liberty. Wasn’t it the great American Patrick Henry who said “”Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God, I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”” — Nour Chammas and Lana Kreidie ...

Taking Political Correctness to the Extreme

With dire determination about the nature of his being, an annoyingly assertive red M&M once said, “”I’m not plain, I am milk chocolate.”” I would like to meet him, give him a big smack upside his candy-coated shell, roll my eyes and tell him, “”Oh puhleese!”” Forgive my insensitivity, but when M&M commercials dramatically echo the complaints of present day stereotypes and respond to them with such creative euphemisms, I have but one question: Has society become too politically correct for its own good? Believe me, I am as much for politically correctness as the next person when it comes to issues regarding race, gender and politics. But do we really need to sugar coat every other word in a conversation just to avoid sounding stereotypical or degrading? Take the case of my high school friend Gina, who had recently found a job at a local nude bar. We had been talking about what she did for a living. “”For the sake of political correctness, I’m a not topless bar stripper,”” she smiled and told me matter of factly. “”I’m a male entertainer, thank you very much!”” I thought for a minute. “”Um, no,”” I said. “”You’re a stripper.”” I simply rolled my eyes and laughed. I sensed she was being politically correct for the sake of her ego. Somewhat disappointed, and embarrassed at the sheer bluntness of flat-out being called a “”stripper,”” she shrugged. “”Stupid, I know,”” she replied. “”I’m a bit overly sensitive about that, huh?”” Stupid? No. Overly sensitive? Maybe. Anal? Unnecessarily. Too politically correct for her own good? Yes. In my opinion, it was fine for Gina to sugar coat her not-so-smiled-upon profession and avoid criticism or speculation. I bet one will agree with me, though, when I say it gets old when people always want to be politically correct about every little thing. It is simply not necessary, because when people use politically correct terms incessantly to avoid sounding shady, they succeed in accomplishing the very opposite. Political correctness was born sometime in the 1980s as a device to curb public figures from speaking without inhibition and offending minor factions in society. Although it started only to hold public figures to a higher standard of professionalism, it soon became an unwritten and written law in most communities. Using political correctness was to prevent people from being offended, to compel everyone to avoid using words or behavior that may upset homosexuals, women, nonwhites, the crippled, the mentally impaired, the fat, the ugly or anything not in the desirable norm. However, political correctness has risen to new heights in people’s consciences when the only thing people are concerned about is the preservation of others’ feelings and egos and the risk of sounding too stereotypical. What people do not realize is that political correctness is an ideal, but should not be mandated by social norms. We should be able to speak as plainly as we want without worrying about how we sound, just so long as we are genuine and do not speak with fighting words. If we are judgmental and critical people to begin with, no politically correct term will be able to mask that. Every word, whether describing a person, a group of people or a profession, seemingly has a politically correct counterpart. Although most of these terms are arguably needed to prevent prevailing stereotypes, it is easy to get carried away. Soon we are left with commercials that mock the behavior of society and animated candy pieces telling us what to call them — something that this vertically challenged, Asian-American, Greek-affiliated, academic athlete (or: short, sorority, nerdy Asian girl) will certainly not have. ...

Author Offers Tips for UCSD Freshmen

Lawdamercy, 10th week is upon us like stink on a York bathroom, which is to say it’s already halfway down our throats before we have time to think about gagging. Those who have done their time at this fine university know whereof I speak, and those that do not are frosh. But worry not, oh freshly ones, for you too will taste the fetid joy that is a York Hall chemistry lecture. But are there other joys of UCSD living you maybe missing? Not if you follow the following handy-dandy, ultra-indispensable,stick-in-your-pocket-for-when-you-want-to-save-your-gum list of The Top Ten Things All Frosh Must Do By The End Of The Year! It may be too late in the quarter for some of these things, but don’t get discouraged, you still have winter and spring. Numero uno: Get your athletic money’s worth. Go to a damn sports game. College isn’t college without painting yourself with zit-causing greasepaint and screaming at some poor out-of-town team that’s getting utterly crushed, and our fair Tritons do an amazing job of regularly providing us with a chance to do just that. But that’s not enough. You also have to join an intramural sports team. I mean you have to. Even if you join as a cheerleader or goal post, get out there for the informal sports fun. And you have to use RiMAC. Or rIMAc. Or whatever it is. At least because we’re all paying out the ass for it. And play a pick-up game of wall-ball with me next to the ATMs in the Student Center. Numero dos: Get your groove on. You have to go to enough parties, no joke, and at least once get puked on, puke on someone else, watch your crush puke, or something along these lines. This is college, folks. It’s gross, but it’ll prepare you for dirty diapers. You also have to actually participate, at least once, in substance use. Don’t break any laws I can get blamed for. Be the sober baby sitter for a bunch of drunks/trippers/what-have-you, if staying straight suits you. Personally, I love sobriety, but I never knew how much so until I used drugs. Numero tres: Get educated. When you are sure you are sober, go to your professors’ office hours. You are peeing money into the gutter if you don’t. These academic idiots and geniuses are on your payroll (if you ignore the huge state subsidies). Bringing homework or questions about a test does not count. Go to talk about ideas and information, not grades and exams. Remember the word “”learning?”” Numero cuatro: Get the hell off campus. TJ with your suitemates only counts if it’s in the daytime. Downtown San Diego counts if you talk to a street person for more than five minutes. If you go to Planet Hollywood, fugedaboutit. The point here is to experience real off-campus culture, not prepackaged consumer goods. Going somewhere in La Jolla doesn’t count, ever, unless it’s $1 beer night at Karl Strauss and you sneak in and give a big tip to my housemate (the buxom blonde with freckles whose name starts with “”A””). Chula Vista counts all the time. So does Joshua Tree. I recommend the excellent services of the Outback Adventures Office, located right behind the notoriously hard-to- find Roosevelt College. Numero cinco: Find Roosevelt College. Find all of them, you putz, but especially Roosevelt, ’cause those kids are lonely … and often get lost trying to find their way home. Numero seis: Get to know your government. The A.S. Council takes around about $20 every quarter from you, me and that hottie whose window you tried to peek in last week (you thought no one could see you?). It ends up with a million or so of our money, yours and mine, and they spend it … on us? In theory, yes, and actually this year’s council seems to be doing a good job of it, but how would you know? Have you ever gone to a meeting? Numero siete: Get religious. College exists for experimentation, not just in the lab or between the bed sheets, but deep within yourself. If you have any religious background, try the services offered for your faith, at least once. If you’ve got nothing in the way of religiosity, sample around! Make sure you’re not missing something! This campus is an all-you-can-eat spiritual buffet, and you can get up from the table any time. Numero ocho: Get a job. Learn how to work for money while you study for grades. Feel lucky if you have the good fortune to be able to choose not to. Numero nueve: Get exposed. This does not refer to getting naked on Black’s Beach. Challenge yourself here, by broadening your social horizons. Go to an LGBTA dance. Go to a Rush party. Try the Shinai stick fights, if you missed the Darkstar Halloween Orgy. Try your hand at radio at KSDT. Kiss a custodian. And try the $4 all-you-can-eat vegetarian food at the Che Cafe on Thursday nights. Numero diez: Get exposed. This does refer to getting naked on Black’s Beach. ...

Columnist Fails to Be Hip After Much Effort

I’ve always known I would never be a part of the “”in crowd.”” My physique, my clothes, even my dirty, chipped nails suggest I would never quite fit in with the cool, hip students at UCSD. Until now, I was comfortable with the fact that I had no idea how much a pair of Gucci leather boots cost (although I can accurately hypothesize that they probably cost more than every hair removal treatment I’ve ever had). Yet, something — or should I say someone — ruined it all. A houseguest with the exotic name of Aida (after Verdi’s opera) entered my life and threatened to change it forever. The problem I have with beautiful, energetic and intelligent women is that they are extremely annoying. The reason is not just that they usually get every single guy who happens to glance their way, but also because they unintentionally (sometimes, at least) make me realize how inadequate I am as a woman. Alright, so I’m jealous. But wouldn’t you be if you had a houseguest who not only hung out with Axl Rose a few weeks ago but also manages to squeeze into tight jeans without one single ounce of fat bulging at the creases? Everyone has an Aida in her life. In fact, everyone should have one. They’re happy, bubbly people who also happen to have tons of guys running after them at every opportunity. Yet, what happens when you’re not the Aida? What happens when you’re just a shadow of an Aida? One answer: Wallow in your misery. Until this New York emigre entered my household, I thought I was extremely hip. Fine, so I’m not being totally honest. However, I still felt like I had the potential to be part of the “”hip”” crowd, the crowd everyone yearns to belong to but which requires too much time and energy for the average person. Nevermind that I’d have to lose 15 pounds (although some may argue 30), have a flawless face (courtesy of a lot of too-expensive foundation), and also know the difference between a Fendi bag and a Prada bag. I still believed, one might argue vainly, that I had a chance. That was until a truly hip guy magnet who gets into every L.A. club like a hot celebrity entered my abode and created my identity crisis. Perhaps I’m being immature. Aren’t college students supposed to see beyond the immature games high school students play to see who is the prettiest, skinniest, tallest, etc.? Still, I can’t help thinking that all of you readers have felt inferior to someone either on this campus or off at one time or another, so therefore I excuse myself for making foolish comparisons to someone who is much “”cooler”” than me. My mother may argue that I’m a jealous idiot, although she probably wouldn’t put it in such vulgar terms, but I feel like declaring war against this 24-year-old, whose charm managed to get her into a rock star’s home, to get free coffee at Starbucks (while I suffer and get only what I pay for) and to snag guys’ phone numbers like a spider does flies. I thought I could learn from her and become “”hipper,”” in hopes that I too could lure attractive young men (psychos need not apply) while still holding onto a shred of dignity. I listened as she told me how to play the game (“”Act confident, girls, and don’t forget to be respectful!””) and watched in a mirror as she completed my makeover. Voila! I was transformed, temporarily at least. And, of course, I got compliments as my “”teacher”” smiled proudly. Yet something inside me felt superficial. Even when I went to the mall and listened to this potential model explain to me how to wear clothes that looked good on my hips, I felt like a poser. This wasn’t me. I couldn’t understand the beauty of a pair of hand-stitched leather pants even if I tried. Worse, when I tried to bat my lashes at an unsuspecting gentleman, he looked at me with concern rather than desire. Sure, I’m tragically unhip compared to this girl. But maybe it’s “”OK.”” I just hope UCSD students will forgive me. ...

President Clinton's Legacy is a Mixed One, Both Good And Bad

The excitement of Election Day has come and gone and all the controversy surrounding the selection of the next president is finally coming to an end, so slow down and catch your breath. At last, the consequences of what transpired Nov. 7 and in the weeks that followed can be fully analyzed. We now know who won which elections and can debate about what their victories will mean when they take office. On the other hand, I have decided not to do that. I will not write about my thoughts on the new president, the “”chad,”” Florida or any of that. I even promise not to mention the new president’s name. Instead, I will focus on the outgoing president and what transpired over the past eight years and perhaps give you a new take on his presidency. Love him or hate him, William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States, is nearing the end of his second term. Affectionately considered a “”lame duck”” by students of political science, Clinton has spent the last few months of his presidency out of the limelight, not able to do much with the Congress, as he no longer has any bargaining leverage. When the new president is inauguarated, exactly eight years will have passed from the time of Clinton’s inauguration. Looking back, we cannot help but wonder what mark Clinton will leave for America. What single event will a person first remember when the name “”Clinton”” is evoked? In other words, what is Clinton’s legacy for the American people? Most presidents of the 20th century carry a legacy. Franklin Roosevelt led us through World War II and left us with the New Deal. Lyndon Johnson intergrated the country with the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society, but tore it in half with the Vietnam War. The bitter legacy that Richard Nixon left continues to affect how Americans view their government. Ronald Reagan left Americans a legacy of unfulfilled possibilities, which were only realized later in the Clinton administration. That, and a huge debt. George Bush, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism, left Americans with a new sense of national pride. What will be Clinton’s legacy? When considering what Clinton has and has not accomplished over the past eight years, an interesting aspect should be pointed out. Clinton seems to epitomize a type of self-juxtaposition, not only in policies but character as well. To determine his legacy, both must be examined. One option that Clinton can claim as his legacy is the tremendously strong economy. Clinton entered the White House while the economy was in a recession. When he leaves office, the country will be coming off one of its largest economic booms in history. The New Economy has made many Americans very weatlhy and has brought about advancements in technology. Is it fair to say that we can thank Clinton for these wonderful times? Unfortunately for him and for Vice President Al Gore, both who continuously remind people that the great boom was of their doing, it is simply not true. Many economists agree that the economic boom started in the last year of Bush’s term, and perhaps even reaches back to Reagan’s substantial tax cut. Hence, Clinton’s legacy cannot and should not be equated to the New Economy. In reality, a president has very little control over how the economy is managed. Even if you believe that no single person can manage the economy, the president has much less influence than most Americans believe he does. He cannot directly raise taxes to slow growth nor cut taxes to stimulate it. Perhaps Clinton’s best move for the economy was the re-appointment of the omniscient Alan Greenspan as chairman of the federal reserve. Greenspan, along with the genius of former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, kept the economy going strong. Another option for Clinton’s legacy would be foreign affairs. For most of his first term, Clinton seemingly fumbled through many hotspots, failing in Haiti and Somalia. The violence in the Balkans and the United States’ confused stance on it only further proved Clinton’s inadequacies in foreign affairs. Into his second term, however, Clinton made some very important decisions, namely his appointments of Madeleine Albright as secretary of state and the hard-nosed William Cohen as secretary of defense. Thanks to them, Clinton’s foreign affairs record has been tremendous, with successes in helping create peace in Northern Ireland and Bosnia. His greatest foreign affairs accomplishment, believe or not, was forging the peace between Israel and the Palestine before this latest violence. Not since Carter had a president been so involved with the Middle East, forging peace accords between Yassir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, and after Rabin’s death, Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite Clinton’s obvious and often criticized attempt to base his legacy on foreign affairs, he accomplished much more with the issues at home. Clinton again started off on the wrong foot with national issues. He forced a tax increase through Congress, which, later on, defeated his highly touted Health Care Reform Bill. This was an embarrassment to the administration, one that spilled into the 1994 congressional elections, resulting in the Republican takeover of Congress. Near the end of his first term and into his second, there was a turnaround. Always the crafty politician, Clinton moved from the left to the center, referring to himself and his followers as “”New Democrats.”” He took the credit for the Welfare Reform Bill of 1996 away from Republicans and pushed a minimum-wage increase in through Congress. Thanks to the economic boom, the massive national deficit dwindled. It is predicted to eventually turn into a trillion-dollar surplus. This surplus, however, is as shaky as a house built from a deck of cards. It is based entirely on the capital gains taxes from the bull market. Where the market goes, this surplus will follow. Lastly, one cannot ignore the complicated nature of Clinton’s character nor his constant battle with scandal. As mentioned before, Clinton seems to epitomize a duality. Here is a man that was on top of everything, the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Yet he fell in the eyes of Americans and the world with the emergence of the Monica Lewinsky fiasco. It all culminated in 1998 with Clinton’s impeachment by the House and his trial in the Senate. Will this be his legacy, to be forever scarred by scandal and only the second president to be impeached? Looking at all of these events, the economic boom, the peace accords in the Middle East and Bosnia, unprecedented changes, attempts to change, the welfare state, and his impeachment, what can we say will ultimately be Clinton’s legacy? What will American remember of Clinton after he leaves office? My answer: everything. All of these events will be part of Clinton’s legacy for America, the good and the bad. And, though many would argue with me, this is the sign of a good president. Clinton had a hand in almost every arena possible, like Franklin Roosevelt 60 years before him. Everything that Clinton did, all the peace accords and all the scandals, is remembered because of its importance to the economy, the world and to our society. Even the economic boom will be credited, if unfairly, to Clinton. As mentioned before, all of this will culminate to one single aspect: his character. His dueling personalities, coupled with his accomplishments and defeats, reflect this character. He was a great president brought down by his human, carnal desires. This will be Clinton’s legacy: the duality of his accomplishments and defeats that reflected the duality of his nature. As promised, I did not mention the new president’s name. I cannot tell you what will happen in the next four years. What I can tell you is that our new president will be inheriting a nation from a great president, a great leader, and most importantly, a fallible human being. ...

Editorials

The UCSD Guardian is published twice a week at the University of California, San Diego. Contents (c)2000. Views expressed herein represent the majority vote of the editorial board, and are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff. Vincent Gragnani, Editor in ChiefBill Burger Managing EditorsJeffrey White, Copy EditorTom Vu, Opinion EditorLauren I. Coartney, News EditorRobert Fulton, Sports EditorDavid Pilz, Photo Editor With the announcement of the certified vote in Florida on Sunday afternoon, Texas Gov. George W. Bush has been unofficially named the president-elect of the United States. This, however, has not stopped Vice President Al Gore from contesting the results of the election on several counts in an attempt to have the decision turned in his favor. The Guardian believes that it would be in the best interest of the Democratic Party if Gore conceded the election now and looked toward the 2004 election. Was Gore cheated? Possibly. Did more people vote for him than Bush? Definitely. Does he, by all rights, deserve to be the next president of the United States? Perhaps. Despite all this, it would be better for Gore’s party if he conceded now. First of all, by conceding, Gore would make the Democrats appear that they have the best interests of the presidency and the country in mind. This would plant a seed in the minds of voters that the Democratic Party is attempting to do away with partisan politics, a problem against which the population claims to be rebelling. With this thought entrenched in their minds, the voters would be much more likely to elect a Democratic president in four years. Second, winning this election is not much of a prize anymore. Whoever does win will be labeled a phony or counterfeit president and will likely not be given the support and power that the office normally earns. After four years of a weak Republican president, the nation will likely vote in a Democrat next election, whereas if Gore did happen to win, he would stifle the candidacies of many qualified Democrats in 2004 and almost ensure that the next president is Republican. At this point, it is almost certain that Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Dick Gephardt are holding out for a Gore concession. A Gore loss would also put Joseph Lieberman back in the Congress for six more years as a senator from Connecticut. In a Senate that will most likely be split 50-50, the loss of Lieberman to the vice presidency could be catastrophic for the Senate Democrats by giving the Republicans the slight majority. Gore may have something to gain by contesting the results in Florida, but the Guardian feels he would be better serving his party if he simply conceded the race and cut his losses. This election is obviously a very disappointing one for the Democratic Party, one that they felt they should win because of the strength of the economy and President Bill Clinton’s two-term legacy. Despite how much it will hurt to lose the election, it is better to forfeit it now then to go on contesting it and further alienate the American people. ...