Do right-wingers fuel domestic terror? Or is conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh right -- that former President Clinton and President Obama soon could have blood on their hands?
Saying "right-wing, radio talk-show hosts" kept people in "white heat" nearly 15 years ago before the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, Clinton today warned against similar anger in the age of Obama.
But Limbaugh said Clinton and the Obama "regime" are the ones that have "set the stage for violence."
"Bill Clinton ... just gave the kooks out there an excuse to be violent," Limbaugh told radio listeners today. "He just offered them an opportunity to be violent."
Clinton has drawn parallels between the anti-government tone that preceded Tim McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building April 19, 1995, which killed 168 people, and the political rancor that greeted President Obama's administration.
Speaking to the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., today, Clinton urged political and media leaders to remember that "words matter" and that they fall on the "serious and the delirious and the connected and the unhinged alike."
"We can't let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose sight of our humanity," Clinton said.
But playing three extended sound bites from Clinton's speech, Limbaugh flipped the script, saying any domestic terror violence this time would be "squarely on the shoulders of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama."
In one of Limbaugh's sound bites, Clinton said, "We didn't have blog sites back then so the instrument of carrying this forward were basically the right-wing, radio talk-show hosts, and they understood clearly that emotion was more powerful than reason most of the time, and it happened that they got much bigger listenership and more advertisers and more commercial success if they kept people in the white heat.
"For 99 percent of them, it was just that, turn on the radio, listen to them say something you agree with, vent your anger, go on with your life and make the best of it. But it shaped the environment in which we were in."
At another point in his speech, Clinton said: "By the '80s, we began to have the rise of violence from the fringe I suppose you could call right-wing, but it was basically uncritical hatred of the government and belief that all taxes were illegitimate."
Limbaugh, referring to Bush-era national security leaks to reporters, accused liberals, whom he is now calling "the regime," of "setting the stage" for violence.
"They have given up our military secrets in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet they sit here, Clinton and Obama, and try to blame me and us on the radio for something that has not happened, while setting the stage for it to happen," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh was incredulous that anyone would associate the Tea Party movement, "genuine, peace-loving, middle-American citizens of this country," with future acts of terrorism.
"What have I missed here?" Limbaugh asked. "What Tea Party has engaged in acts of violence?"
Playing a much-publicized 2003 soundbite of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton rather loudly saying at a Democratic party fundraiser that she is "sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, than you are not patriotic."
Limbaugh said, "She sounds angrier than any Tea Party person I have ever heard."