"The President believes that you cannot put off problems simply because there is no national consensus; his duty is to act, to lead and to bring this nation face to face with the troubles it must overcome," Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell told a crowd of about 750 people at Boston University's Morse Auditorium, last night.
Powell praised President Carter's attempts to take action on a broad range of issues and attacked special interest group's influence in policy making in his five-minute long opening remarks at a forum sponsored by the Boston University Office of Community Relations.
"The failures we may encounter in instituting our programs are less dangerous than mediocrity or an unwillingness to advance solutions for pressing problems," Powell said.
After his brief address, Powell spent nearly an hour responding to questions from the audience on various political issues.
Powell said he supported Carter's new directions for U.S. intelligence agencies. "The administration believes that we can have an effective intelligence system and, at the same time refrain from violating the Constitution," he said.
In response to a question concerning Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat's recent criticisms of U.S. positions, Powell said, "If we have to let folks beat us over the head a bit while we keep our mouths shut in order to facilitate negotiations, then we'll do so."
Powell defended Carter's recent visit to Iran, saying "We are often forced to deal with countries whose policies do not completely square with our own, but we have been, and will continue, exerting our influence to have those nations liberalize their positions."
Powell also had some advice for Harvard students who had failed to study for their exams.
Referring to his expulsion from the U.S. Air Force Academy for cheating, Powell said, "you will probably sooner or later have to deal with the consequences of your actions," cheating "is one of those things where if you haven't done it yet, you likely will soon." "You will have to make your own decision," he added.