Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, April 16, 2010

Clinton Warns against Angry Political Rhetoric

(CNN) -- Former President Clinton said he sees parallels in the mood of the country now and on April 19, 1995, when the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people while he was in the White House.

"There's the same kind of economic and social upheaval now," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview to air Friday on "The Situation Room."
"Then, you had the rise of extremist voices on talk radio. Here, you have a billion Internet sites," Clinton said.

And although the hard-core, anti-government radicals are still a minority, "they can communicate with each other much faster and much better than they did before. The main thing that bothered us since the time of Oklahoma City was that already, there was enough use of the Internet that if you knew how to find a Web site -- and not everybody even had a computer back then, but if you knew how to find it, you could learn, for example, how to make a bomb."

In an interview with the New York Times on Friday, Clinton warned of the affect that angry political rhetoric might have on antigovernment radicals like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; he pointed to Rep. Michele Bachmann calling the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress "the gangster government" at a tax day Tea Party rally on Thursday.

"They are not gangsters," Clinton told the newspaper. "They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do."

Clinton said that demonizing the government with incendiary language can have effects beyond just rallying a crowd.

"There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do," Clinton told the newspaper, pointing out that McVeigh and his conspirators "were profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line."

But Clinton said he didn't want to draw too tight of an analogy between then and now. He added that it's not his intent to stifle criticism of government.

"I'm not interested in gagging anybody. I actually love this political debate," Clinton said.

"Most of the Tea Party people, though, are explicitly political. You've got to give that now," he said. "Forget about whether we disagree with them or not. It's really important to be able to criticize your government and criticize elected officials. That doesn't bother me.

"Most of them have been well within bounds," Clinton said. "And they're harsh but limited criticism; in other words, they're not advocating violence or encouraging other people to do it.

"But I just think that we have to be careful," the former president added. "We've been down this road on more than one occasion before. We don't want to go down it again."


  1. Nice tie, Bill!

    I attended a fundraiser featuring him on the same day that the Cole was attacked. He was tired and obviously worried, and had canceled everything but this event. For 30 minutes, he gave an off-the-cuff discourse on the difference between Democrats and Republicans. No ers, ahs, or ums. Every time he mentioned a Washington state politician, he had the name down pat and knew where that person was sitting. You could have heard a pin drop the entire time.

  2. I loved Bill Clinton as president and I love him now. We should be saying "I MISS CLINTON" the way the right says they miss Bush and Reagan.

    He is a smart man, something the republicans are sorely missing in their party.

  3. The Republicans hate Clinton, all the more reason to like him.

  4. Imagine how much smarter he would have been if he WOULD HAVE inhaled.

  5. Clinton was a good president, but I think the one we have now is just as good if not better.

    However Clinton is correct... the political climate right now is dangerous... With the rise in hate groups and militia's reaching a 244% rise since 2008 things are out of hand. The Rethugs and the Tea Partiers are out of line and had better start reeling things in or we will have another OKC, maybe something even worse.

    Thanks for posting this.. I missed it, but then I never watch CNN..

  6. Wise words, of course. But just watch the right-wingers come back with "Yes, but a liberal once said blah blah and blah blah which was just as bad, so lets talk about that instead." That's how they almost always react when the irresponsibility on their side is pointed out -- change the subject. They won't address the problem until after something terrible happens, and maybe not then.

    One of the best things we could accomplish this election is to get Bachmann out. It's unconscionable for a Congressperson to be talking so irresponsibly.

  7. Considering how the rabid right went after him from the moment he started running for president, Bill Clinton's thoughtful admonition comes across like a Hiroshima survivor cautioning against the use of nuclear weapons.

    Unfortunately, I suspect his good sense will fall on deaf ears.

  8. You got that right, Infidel. In Wingnut land, it's a tie score on the hate speech front when they're ahead 244-1.

  9. I hadn't even noticed the tie. Kind of yucky.

    I like this man a whole bunch.

    And I hope that horrid comment of Bachman's costs her dearly.

  10. I live in Arizona where our wingnut Gov.Jan Brewer signed into law making it legal to carry a concealed weapon. You no longer need a permit. How insane is this? And how long before some crazy kills a lot of innocent people after getting fired up by hate rhetoric?

    I am so depressed by it all. The Clintons and Obamas need to avoid this state until cooler heads rule.

  11. Darlene. You can carry concealed weapons into bars and restaurants here in TN.

  12. Darlene:
    I also live in Az.
    I have a conceal carry permit. And I never leave the house with out it.
    The bad guys here, as in every where else already carry concealed fire arms.
    I am very much AGAINST this legislation.
    But, it is very telling of where our state, our country, and our society is headed.

  13. Hard to expect Bill Clinton to tell the truth, and he doesn't disappoint here. It takes a great leap of imagination to equate the use of the word "Gangster" with a call for violence.

    Darlene said: "I live in Arizona where our wingnut Gov.Jan Brewer signed into law making it legal to carry a concealed weapon"

    What's wrong with that? No one is forcing you to carry a concealed weapon. Get over it.

  14. dmarks, I have no intention of carrying a concealed weapon. That was not my point. My point is that these weapons can be carried by anyone; no training, no permit, no background check. So if a another deranged gunman buys a gun at a gun show through the loophole in the gun law and shows up in a restaurant where I may be dining, has 'tee many martoonies' before dinner and decides to shoot someone I could be in the way. What's right with that?