Former President Bill Clinton last week inadvertently demonstrated Karl Marx's shrewd observation, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." The historical event in question is the attempt to deter by smearing a broad-based, popular, American anti-high-tax, anti-big-central government movement as likely to induce seditious violence against the government.
The historic example of this calumny was Alexander Hamilton's slander against Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's emerging Republican/Democratic Party. The first repetition, as tragedy, was Bill Clinton's attack on the Republican Contract With America rhetoric following the Oklahoma bombing in 1995 - which resulted in deflecting the upward progress of conservatism from the summer of 1995 onward.
The second repetition - this time as farce - occurred last week as, once again, Mr. Clinton went back to his once-trusty playbook and implied that this time, the Tea Party rhetoric might result in political violence.
By coincidence, I have found myself involved in both of Mr. Clinton's attempted repetitions. As Newt Gingrich's press secretary in 1995, I received the calls of reporters asking me to respond to Clinton White House-generated accusations that our Contract with America rhetoric had caused Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Oklahoma City government building. As preposterous as the charge was - advocating constitutional, limited government is inherently nonseditious, nor did we ever call for violence of any sort - the charge had its intended effect and put Mr. Clinton back in the political driver's seat in Washington after the drubbing he took the previous November.
Being a shrewd student of history, Mr. Clinton doubtlessly got the idea from Federalist Hamilton's initially successful effort to tar anti-Federalists Jefferson and Madison's effort to squelch a big federal government from overwhelming American liberty.
Back-country resistance to Hamilton's new excise tax on distilling and selling liquor was overcharacterized as a violent rebellion (the famous Whisky "Rebellion"). Hamilton and his people warned darkly that thousands of rebels were going to march on Philadelphia. America's first large standing army was raised while Jefferson was being slandered by Hamilton for encouraging "rebellion."
As Jefferson wryly observed at the time: "An insurrection was announced and proclaimed and armed against, and marched against, but could never be found." Does that sound familiar? Were unrecorded rude words really uttered at the Tea Party event on Capitol Hill last month? No matter. Those who made the claims hoped even the unproved charge would help the government against the Tea Party movement. Don't bet on it.
Back in 1794, after the fact, Hamilton said: "The insurrection will do us a great deal of good and add to the solidity of everything in this country." In fact, as historian Gordon Wood has written, "so much did the rebellion redound to the benefit of the national government that some thought the Federalists were behind the entire uprising."
Eventually, the Federalists fell because, inter alia, the vast public they slandered turned out not to like being lied about by their "betters." So was born - then - the Democratic Party.
By chance, I was on CNN's "Situation Room" on Friday to comment on Mr. Clinton's latest attempt to smear anti-tax, anti-big-government grass-roots efforts. Unlike in 1995, now I had the advantage of being familiar with subsequent statements by Clinton aides and others. So, on the show, I quoted from Mr. Clinton's chief speechwriter in a 2000 interview on PBS' "Frontline."
Michael Waldman said, describing Mr. Clinton's words immediately after the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, that "he also very skillfully used the moment to begin the process of making people wonder about the Republican revolution on Capitol Hill. ... And very subtly and appropriately, by planting the national flag in opposition to that [GOP rhetoric and the McVeigh bombing] began to turn the political tide as well."
To which the PBS correspondent, Chris Bury, correctly asked: "Couldn't [Clinton] be accused of manipulating a terrible tragedy in order to do that?" Indeed.
How closely the Clinton strategy paralleled Hamilton's. Consider the description of Hamilton's method by Jefferson's ally Madison: "The game" Madison explained in a letter, "was to connect the democratic societies [those accused of encouraging the insurrection] with the odium of the insurrection - to connect the Republicans in Congress (Jefferson, Madison, et al.) with those Societies - to put the President ostensibly at the head of the other party, in opposition to both."
And just as some Americans came to suspect the Federalists of provoking that of which they accused Jefferson, I went on to note that accusing your political opponents of causing a murderous tragedy is a dangerous game.
I quoted from a 2001 Associated Press article about McVeigh's execution, which included his own words: "The siege at Waco [ineptly carried out by Mr. Clinton's Justice Department] was the defining event in his [McVeigh's] decision to retaliate against the government with the bombing. ... 'If there would not have been a Waco, I would have put down roots somewhere and not been so unsettled with the fact that my government was a threat to me. Everything that Waco implies was on the forefront of my thoughts. That sort of guided my path for the next couple of years.' " Ouch.
Of course, as I completed my on-air comments, I didn't blame Mr. Clinton for the deaths of more than 160 men, women and children in the Oklahoma City bombing because no one should be blamed for the conduct of a murderous lunatic like McVeigh (even though the evidence is conclusive that McVeigh bombed because of the actions of Clinton's top aides in Waco).
Over the weekend, others started pointing out Mr. Clinton's cynicism last time. (See Byron York's excellent review of how then-Clinton aide Dick Morris described the Clinton method.) And the public begins to giggle rather than tremble at the false accusations of sedition.
Here is a case where our opponents should pay more attention to the teaching of Marx - at least when it comes to committing a historic farce.
First tragedy, next farce and then, perhaps like the Federalists, extinction.
There Bill Clinton goes again
Beware the unforeseen consequences of charging sedition
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Tuesday, 20 April 10
By Tony Blankley
Tony Blankley is the author of "American Grit: What It Will Take to Survive and Win in the 21st Century" (Regnery, 2009) and vice president of the Edelman public relations firm in Washington.
Monday was the anniversary of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that left 149 men and women -- most of them federal workers -- and 19 children dead. As is his habit, former President Bill Clinton used the occasion to bash his critics.
In a New York Times opinion piece, "What We Learned in Oklahoma City," Clinton placed the blame on Americans who have advocated smaller government. The terrorists -- bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices -- who targeted the Murrah Federal Building, he wrote, "took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them."
When a former president seizes such a tragedy for partisan purposes, it is no wonder a new Pew Research poll found that a modest 22 percent of voters say they trust Washington to do the right thing most of the time.
Clinton wrote that while criticism is "part of the lifeblood of democracy ... we should remember that there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedom and public servants who enforce our laws."
What I want to know is: Other than the twisted McVeigh and company, who is not clear on this difference? Does Clinton think his all his critics are stupid, or is he playing stupid?
But wait, there's more. Clinton continued, "We must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged."
Think about that for a minute: If anyone were to cast blame for the Fort Hood shootings that left 13 dead, or any other attacks within American military bases, on the antiwar movement, then that assertion would be followed by howls of outrage, and deservedly so. It would be absurd to suggest that opposition to the war be misconstrued as promoting violence against U.S. troops.
Yet somehow arguing against President Obama's health care plan can be construed as practically an incitement to violence.
And it doesn't matter if you blamed cult leader David Koresh -- not federal agents -- for the violence that claimed more than 80 lives in Waco in 1993. Or that you urged the death penalty as the only fitting punishment for McVeigh. Somehow if you oppose the expansion of the federal government, you are responsible for the violence that you abhor.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations echoed Clinton in a press news release commemorating the Oklahoma City deaths that berated "experts," who initially blamed Muslim extremists for the bombing, then cited the need to "recognize that the same anti-government extremism that led to the attack is growing and is unfortunately moving toward the mainstream."
The press news release then went on to denounce "stereotyping." Really.
So what did Clinton learn from Oklahoma City? He learned that he could drive the wedge that divides the electorate even deeper -- and in so doing, endear himself to the element of his party smitten with itself. But outside the Clinton echo chamber, it sounds like whimpering.
Using the Oklahoma City Bombing
A Commentary by Debra J. Saunders
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
THE RASMUSSEN REPORT
With the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing Monday, former President Bill Clinton is playing a starring role in the liberal effort to draw what the New York Times calls "parallels between the antigovernment tone that preceded that devastating attack and the political tumult of today." The short version of the narrative is: Today's Tea Partiers are tomorrow's right-wing bombers.
On Friday, Clinton spoke at a symposium on the bombing organized by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, founded and run by John Podesta, the former Clinton White House chief of staff who also directed the Obama transition. The theme of Clinton's remarks was that movements like the Tea Party, characterized by extreme right-wing rhetoric, could lead to political violence. In the last few days, news accounts in the Times ("Recalling '95 Bombing, Clinton Sees Parallels"), Newsweek ("Hate: Antigovernment extremists are on the rise -- and on the march"), and ABC News ("Watch your words") drove home Clinton's point. "This is a legitimate thing to do," the former president said, "drawing parallels to the time running up to Oklahoma City and a lot of the political discord that exists in our country today."
What Clinton and his supporters do not talk about is the way in which Clinton, aided by pollster/adviser Dick Morris, exploited the bombing to make a political comeback from what was the lowest point in Clinton's presidency to that time. (The Lewinsky scandal was still three years in the future.) In the days after Oklahoma City, Clinton and Morris devised a plan to use the bombing to discredit and outmaneuver the new Republican majority in Congress.
Clinton was in deep political trouble in April 1995. Six months earlier, voters had resoundingly rejected Democrats in the 1994 mid-term elections, giving the GOP control of both House and Senate. Polls showed the public viewed Clinton as weak, incompetent and ineffective. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his GOP forces seized the initiative on virtually every significant issue, while Clinton appeared to be politically dead. The worst moment may have come on April 18, the day before the bombing, when Clinton plaintively told reporters, "The president is still relevant here."
And then came the explosion at the Murrah Federal Building. In addition to seeing a criminal act and human loss, Clinton and Morris saw opportunity. If the White House could tie Gingrich, congressional Republicans and conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh to the attack, then Clinton might gain the edge in the fight against the GOP.
Morris began polling about Oklahoma City almost immediately after the bombing. On April 23, four days after the attack, Clinton appeared to point the finger straight at his political opponents during a speech in Minneapolis. "We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other," he said. "They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable."
At a White House meeting four days later, on April 27, Morris presented Clinton with a comeback strategy based on his polling. Morris prepared an extensive agenda for the session, a copy of which he would include in the paperback version of his 1999 memoir, Behind the Oval Office. This is how the April 27 agenda began:
AFTERMATH OF OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING
A. Temporary gain: boost in ratings -- here today, gone tomorrow
B. More permanent gain: Improvements in character/personality attributes -- remedies weakness, incompetence, ineffectiveness found in recent poll
C. Permanent possible gain: sets up Extremist Issue vs. Republicans
Later, under the heading "How to use extremism as issue against Republicans," Morris told Clinton that "direct accusations" of extremism wouldn't work because the Republicans were not, in fact, extremists. Rather, Morris recommended what he called the "ricochet theory." Clinton would "stimulate national concern over extremism and terror," and then, "when issue is at top of national agenda, suspicion naturally gravitates to Republicans." As that happened, Morris recommended, Clinton would use his executive authority to impose "intrusive" measures against so-called extremist groups. Clinton would explain that such intrusive measures were necessary to prevent future violence, knowing that his actions would, Morris wrote, "provoke outrage by extremist groups who will write their local Republican congressmen." Then, if members of Congress complained, that would "link right-wing of the party to extremist groups." The net effect, Morris concluded, would be "self-inflicted linkage between [GOP] and extremists."
Clinton's proposals -- for example, new limits on firearms and some explosives that were opposed by the National Rifle Association -- had "an underlying political purpose," Morris wrote in 2004 in another book about Clinton, Because He Could. That purpose was "to lead voters to identify the Oklahoma City bombing with the right wing. By making proposals we knew the Republicans would reject…we could label them as soft on terror an imply a connection with the extremism of the fanatics who bombed the Murrah Federal Building."
It was a political strategy crafted while rescue and recovery efforts were still underway in Oklahoma City. And it worked better than Clinton or Morris could have predicted. In the months after the bombing, Clinton regained the upper hand over Republicans, eventually winning battles over issues far removed from the attack. The next year, 1996, he went on to re-election. None of that might have happened had Clinton, along with Morris, not found a way to wring as much political advantage as possible out of the deaths in Oklahoma City. And that is the story you're not hearing in all the anniversary discussions.
How Clinton exploited Oklahoma City for political gain
By: Byron York Chief Political Correspondent THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
April 18, 2010
BARRY SOETORO aka BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA
He is not eligible to be
President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five of the United States Constitution.
This is a fact REGARDLESS of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, Mecca or Mars).
He is not eligible
because he was not born of
BOTH OF WHOM WERE UNITED STATES CITIZENS
AT THE TIME OF HIS BIRTH
as required by the Constitution.
Barack Hussein Obama Jr. is not eligible to be President of the United States because – according to public admissions made by him – his “birth status was governed” by the United Kingdom. Obama further admits he was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at birth.
Since Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was, if born in the state of Hawaii, a dual citizen, who – according to his own State Department – owed allegiance to the Queen of England and United Kingdom at the time of his birth – he cannot therefore be a “natural born” citizen of the US according to Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution.
His father, who did not live in the United States for more than a couple of years, was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain at the time of Barack’s birth and afterwards, AND further, as Barack himself admitted on his website during the 2008 campaign, Barack was therefore born SUBJECT TO THE GOVERNANCE OF GREAT BRITAIN.
Here is a direct quote from Obama's "Fight the Smears/Fact Check" 2008 website:
‘When Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4,1961, in Honolulu, Kenya was a British colony, still part of the United Kingdom’s dwindling empire. As a Kenyan native, Barack Obama Sr. was a British subject whose citizenship status was governed by The British Nationality Act of 1948. That same act governed the status of Obama Sr.‘s children…’ “
The FACT that he was not born of TWO US CITIZEN PARENTS is all that matters. The question of his birth certificate is a distraction (a distraction fostered by Obama’s supporters?) that ought not to occupy our time and resources. BUT if you are really convinced of the value of the COLB (certificate of live birth) that Obama posted on his website, see this:
Also, it is possible that he is not a United States
citizen at all through his mother if he was born in Kenya, as three witnesses have testified. The reason is because his mother could not pass her US citizenship on to her son because she did not live continuously in the United States for five full years after her fourteenth birthday as required by the US immigration law in effect during that period of time.
Check it out:
Also, an excellent introductory primer on Obama Presiidential Eligibility is to be found at:
His usurpation can only be corrected (1) by Congress through his Impeachment and Removal [something which will never happen in a Congress controlled by Pelosi/Reid], or (2) it can be
corrected by his resignation, which could happen if the public presssure on him to resign becomes great enough, or (3) by his removal by the United States Supreme Court affirming a Quo Warranto decision of the United States Federal District Court for the District of Columbia [which process Attorney General Eric Holder would never allow to even begin] or (4) by an amendment to the Constitution,
which will never happen because that again would require the agreement of a Congress controlled by Pelosi/Reid.
HERE IS THE QUESTION WHICH EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN SHOULD BE ASKING HIS OR HER CONGRESSMAN AND SENATORS
“During the 2008 election, then Senator Obama published a statement at his website which said that his birth status was ‘governed’ by the British Nationality Act of 1948. Can you please tell me, and the American people, how a person governed - at birth - by British law, can be a natural born citizen of the United States and thus constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States?”
If you really want to understand the difference between the technical terms natural born citizen, native born citizen, naturalized citizen and just plain citizen, go to:
And if you really want to understand why it is necessary for a man to be a natural born citizen of the United States in order to be President of the United States, read the essay by Leo Donofrio at:
- Leo Rugiens