"It's a difficult situation, this is that 3am White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House it it seems that that call went right to um the answering machine. And nobody yet has, no body yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and um, no, not, not real um enthused about what it is that that's being done on a national level and from DC in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And um, in these areas that are so volatile right now because obviously it's not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with. And um, we do not have all that information yet." (More of this interview here)
All clear now?
Now that we've heard from Miss Alaska, our next contestant is Miss South Carolina:
I guess we can all agree that our educational system has some serious deficiencies.
Now let's hear from someone who actually knows what she is talking about. From Secretary of State Clinton's remarks in Munich today on the situation in the Middle East:
In the Middle East, we have not yet seen security and democratic development converge in the same way. Let me offer a few observations about where we’ve come from and where we need to go. We have built strong security partnerships with countries across the region to promote peace between Israel and her neighbors, to curb Iran’s dangerous nuclear ambitions, to support economic development, to stop the spread of terrorism, and we will continue to advance these goals, these goals we believe are essential to American and European security as well as the security of the people in the region.
For decades, though, most of these same governments have not pursued the kind of political and economic reforms that would make them more democratic, responsible, and accountable. . . .
Leaders in the region may be able to hold back the tide for a little while, but not for long. That has been the story of the last weeks. It is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the area. The status quo is simply not sustainable. So for all our friends, for all the friends in the region including governments and people, the challenge is to help our partners take systematic steps to usher in a better future where people’s voices are heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met.
This is not simply a matter of idealism. It is a strategic necessity. Without genuine progress toward open and accountable political systems, the gap between people and their governments will only grow, and instability will only deepen. Across the region, there must be clear and real progress toward open, transparent, fair, and accountable systems. Now, in some countries, this transition is happening quickly; in others it will take more time. Different countries face different circumstances.
And of course, there are risks. There are risks with the transition to democracy. It can be chaotic. It can cause short-term instability. Even worse – and we have seen it before – the transition can backslide into just another authoritarian regime. Revolutions have overthrown dictators in the name of democracy only to see the political process hijacked by new autocrats who use violence, deception, and rigged elections to stay in power or to advance an agenda of extremism.
So the transition to democracy will only work if it is deliberate, inclusive, and transparent. Those who want to participate in the political system must commit to basic principles such as renouncing violence as a tool of political coercion, respecting the rights of minorities – ethnic and religious minorities, participating in a spirit of tolerance and compromise. Those who refuse to make those commitments do not deserve a seat at the table. We will continue to champion free and fair elections as an essential part of building and maintaining a democracy.
But we know elections alone are not sufficient. They’re not even sufficient to secure lasting change. So we also must work together to support the institutions of good governance, the rule of law and an independent judiciary, transparency and a free press, strong political parties, protection for the rights of minorities and more, because those, indeed, are the building blocks of a true democracy. . . .
Now, some leaders may honestly believe that their country is an exception, that their people will not demand greater political or economic opportunities, or that they can be placated with half measures. Again, in the short-term that may be true, but in the long-term it is untenable. And in today’s world where people are communicating every second of every day, it is unbelievable. Other leaders raise fears that allowing too much freedom will jeopardize security, that giving a voice to the people, especially certain elements within their countries, will lead to chaos and calamity. But if the events of the last weeks prove anything, it is that governments who consistently deny their people freedom and opportunity are the ones who will, in the end, open the door to instability.
So when we make this case to our friends in the region, we do so in the fundamental belief that their countries will emerge stronger and more prosperous if their societies are more open and responsive. Democracies with vibrant and truly representative institutions resolve differences not in the streets, but in city halls and parliament buildings. That is what leads to real stability and security. That is what leads to prosperity. That is what makes countries even stronger allies.
(Full text on the State Department website)
So Sarah, any more questions on what America stands for and who we stand with? We stand for and with the people. Let's be clear on that.