Jim Lehrer: Well I think that the biggest issue for us – as a country, as a nation, as a people, as an American people – is that we are the most powerful nation in the world any way you want to look at it. Even with all those problems, we’re still the military power of the world, the economic power of the world. Yes, China and others are growing, but we’re still the economic power of the world. We’re the cultural power of the world. People wear our clothes. They listen to our music. They see our movies.
For me, the biggest issue of all is how we, the American people, exercise this power.
There are all kinds of ways to exercise power. One, you can use the fist. You can use the quiet talking way.
What troubles me is that we have not given enough thought, there’s not been enough open debate about how we exercise the power. What is it that we want to do with this military power? What is it we want to do with our economic power? For instance, the power to clean up things in the environment. Global warming; everybody is very concerned about global warming. And there are always going to be things like this.
Topic: Sometimes the best power is the power that’s not exercised.
Jim Lehrer: We have the power to fix these things. We have the power to influence others to do things. We, the United States of America, in my opinion, should be the power to get others to do the good things, and to stop the bad people from doing the bad things because. We have that power.
And it doesn’t mean that we have to exercise military power. Sometimes the best power is the power that’s not exercised. You just have it, you know? And if it’s exercised in restraint, sometimes it’s the most powerful thing there is. I just want to say to me, that is an issue. That’s why I want Presidents of the United States. I don’t give a damn what party they are or what their political persuasion is. I want the President of the United States to come to grips with the power that they have as the leader of this great power. And to quit acting. I’m not talking about pushing people around. Quite the contrary. Or making everybody look like us, and talk like us, and whatever. But to me our power is the number one issue. Everything else flows from that in my opinion.
Recorded: July 4, 2007.