Clinton: Rush Limbaugh Comment “Doesn’t Make Any Sense”

By Evan Harris

Apr 17, 2010 5:02pm

In my EXCLUSIVE “This Week” interview, former President Bill Clinton told me Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that Clinton had “set the stage for violence in this country” and that “any acts of future violence” would be on Clinton’s shoulders, “doesn’t make any sense”. 

Clinton marked the upcoming 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on Friday with a major speech to the Center for American Progress, in which he warned that “the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.”

Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh took to the air, Friday, after the speech and said that Clinton’s remarks, which drew parallels between the anti-government sentiment in the mid-90s and present-day anti-government expressions, “just gave the kooks out there an excuse to be violent.”

Responding directly to Limbaugh, Clinton told me, “The only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent  — a lot of political argument.  Nobody is right all the time.  But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. “

One of those consequences, Clinton said, was threats against public officials.  “We shouldn't demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials.  We can disagree with them.  We can harshly criticize them.  But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.”

Clinton added, “I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress.  And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we've seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.”   A recently leaked memo from a New Jersey teachers union contained a joke suggesting that Governor Christie should die.  

“I just think we all have to be careful.  We ought to remember after Oklahoma City, we learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization,”  Clinton said. 

Tune in to “This Week” on Sunday to watch the complete interview, in which I ask the former President about his Clinton Global Initiative University, whether there ought to be a Clinton on the Supreme Court, the mistakes he made as President on financial regulation and his advice on the Middle East peace process.  Former President Bill Clinton – only on “This Week”.
  
WATCH VIDEO HERE:

TAPPER:  You gave a speech on Friday talking about — on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that's coming up.  How public officials have a responsibility to be careful with their words.  This prompted a response from — from Rush Limbaugh: 
 "You have just set the stage for violence in this country.  Any future acts of violence are on your shoulders, Mr. Clinton." 
Do you have any response?

CLINTON:  Doesn't make any sense. The only point I tried to make was that we ought to have a lot of political dissent  — a lot of political argument.  Nobody is right all the time.  But we also have to take responsibility for the possible consequences of what we say. 

And we shouldn't demonize the government or its public employees or its elected officials.  We can disagree with them.  We can harshly criticize them.  But when we turn them into an object of demonization, you know, you — you increase the number of threats.

I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress.  And I worry about more careless language even against — some of which we've seen against the Republican governor in New Jersey, Governor Christie.   I just think we all have to be careful.  We ought to remember after Oklahoma City, we learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization. 

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