As many of you have been briefed, we provided additional information today about the authenticity of my Democratic Party registration, and my commitment to liberal values. Now, this issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign, when I voted in the Senate to grant immunity to the telecommunications companies that were helping the National Security Agency spy on all of your electronic communications without a warrant. And I have to say that over the last two and a half years I have watched with bemusement, I’ve been puzzled at the degree to which this thing just kept on going. We’ve had every official in New York and Chicago too, Democrat and Republican, every news outlet that has investigated this, confirm that, yes, I registered as a Democrat when I turned 18 in 1979 and have remained a Democrat.
We’ve posted the voter list page containing my name and party affiliation that is filed with the City of New York’s Registrar of Voters on the Internet for everybody to see. People have provided affidavits that they, in fact, have seen this page. And yet this thing just keeps on going.
Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there’s a lot of stuff swirling in the press on at any given day and I’ve got other things to do. But two weeks ago, when the Congressional Progressive Caucus had put forward their proposed budget that if passed would have huge consequences potentially to the country, slashing military spending and raising taxes on the wealthy and on the hedge fund managers who have been my campaign’s bread and butter, and when I gave a speech about my own budget, which would take a whack at Medicare, and leave military funding on its upward trajectory, during that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t about these huge, monumental choices that we’re going to have to make as a nation. It was about whether I am a real Democrat.
And so I just want to make a larger point here. We’ve got some enormous challenges out there. I still passionately want to keep fighting wars in Afghanistan, Libya, and yes Iraq, and maybe later on Iran, and I don’t want to do anything serious about creating public jobs or resolving the Israeli-Palestinian problem. I’m also busy trying to deflect any efforts to expand Medicare to cover the rest of the American population–in fact I’d like to cut that program back.
And this is going to generate huge and serious debates, important debates. And there are going to be some fierce disagreements — and that’s good. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. And I am confident that the American people and America’s political leaders can come together in a bipartisan way and solve these problems. We always have.
But we’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted. We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts. We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.
We live in a serious time right now and we have the potential to deal with the issues that we confront in a way that will make our kids and our grandkids and our great grandkids proud. And I have every confidence that America in the 21st century is going to be able to come out on top just like we always have. But we’re going to have to get serious to do it.
I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. They will keep saying I’m not really a Democrat. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this.
Thanks very much, everybody.