Bill Clinton on shutdown: ‘politics is not theology’
October 14th, 2013
05:46 PM ET
1 year ago

Bill Clinton on shutdown: ‘politics is not theology’

(CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton weighed in Monday on the legislative impasse at the heart of the government shutdown, admonishing the “constant conflict” that has come to define American politics.

Speaking at a convention of the National Community Pharmacists Association in Orlando, Clinton said he liked the crowd because of the practicality of their profession.

“I worry that our politics has gotten impractical. That’s about the nicest word I can think of,” Clinton said.

Convictions are a good thing, Clinton said, as are political beliefs and support of one policy over the other.

The comments are some of the first Clinton has made on the spat over government funding, debt and Obamacare since before the partial shutdown took effect October 1.

In an interview with ABC at the end of September, Clinton took a hardline approach to the looming shutdown, calling on President Barack Obama to call a congressional Republican “bluff” on defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Obama could have stopped the shutdown, Clinton said at the time.

“But the price of – the current price of stopping it is higher than the price of letting the Republicans do it and taking their medicine,” he said.

Clinton on Monday was far less confrontational and far more the elder statesmen who has seen and done it before, having been President during the last federal government shut downs in 1995 and 1996.

Instead of conflict, Clinton urged cooperation.

“Nobody’s right all the time. And the more complex problems are the more you need people to work together,” he said.

But politics is often a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers and especially in Washington, working together is often far less attractive than some notion of winning.

“Constant conflict is actually often good politics. Because the more you can inflame your supporters the more likely they are to show up at election day,” Clinton said.
“And if they’re more inflamed than the other side, even if the other side has more people agreeing with it, you’ll win because your crowd will show up.”


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Government Shutdown
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Put that grass to GOP animals. By defunding ACA enactment, how can these idiots passed law make null and void? Do they have brain? It is already a law. Period. Whether they fund or not–this law can not and will not go any where.

    October 14, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. buongiorno

    its not over and it never will be when you have power in the hands of individuals that it has no place Ugly hasnt got here yet but its lurking around the corner thanks to GREED!

    October 14, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Marie MD

    Separation of church and state but these domestic terrorists have made religion their cause and are trying to shove their beliefs and crazy ways down out throats at a t me when more people are all. No away from organized religion and being under the thumb of religion.
    Twenty percent do the population should NOT be allowed to speak for the rest of us.

    October 14, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  4. Richard Long

    President Clinton was the master of negotiation. He had an opposing Congress, but still got things done.
    However, this "amateur" thinks he can bring his "Chicago-style"/bully tactics to DC and get work done. By his own admission, Obama hates spending time with other politicians and prefers to "get home to dinner with the family". The Presidency is a serious job and not one of convenience.
    Bill and Hillary were right... "Amateur.. "

    October 14, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. ED1

    I think the last time the Government was shut down it was on your watch.

    The House members are doing what they were elected to do stop the out of control spending and don't pass bills that add to our debt.

    Take $40 million dollars and give it to the people that Obama says that Obamacare needs to cover and you could save the taxpayers 1.76 billion dollars that is what Obamacare is expected to cost us.

    October 14, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  6. YUCK

    this guy was a good president,I will always remembered when he got on national tv and started playing the saxophone...bill you ROCK!!

    October 14, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  7. Colmery

    The elephant in your Congress that is trumpeting US incompetence for the whole world to laugh at is the fact that you have no resolution for deadlock over enabling money bills.

    Most democracies have worked out that there a loonies at the fringes of politics who cannot accept majority rule. Those people should not be allowed to make the world's most powerful democracy look like a rabble – it harms democracy everywhere.

    October 14, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Check out H. R. 368: The GOP quietly passed this right before the shutdown, changing the House rules so that only the majority leader of the House can call for a vote to stop the shutdown.

    In the past, any member of Congress call for this vote; now, because this will change, only Eric Cantor can call for a vote.

    Anyone still believing that the GOP did not want or cause this shutdown is a fool. And they should be asking themselves just why is the GOP so actively trying to tear our country apart.

    October 14, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  9. RobertD

    One party should agree to 900 billion in deficit and the other should demand it be reduced to 898 billion in deficit, and anyone worried about 17 trillion in debt is an extremist.

    October 14, 2013 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  10. Larry L

    The President took the right course. Never negotiate with terrorists and the Republuicans were doing nothing but playing radical, Tea Party politics – holding America hostage. All who have been hurt by the useless and costly shutdown, and the ridiculous threat to default on payments the Congress has already approved, can directly pay-back the Republican Party in both 2014 and 2016.

    October 14, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  11. Dave

    Clinton should shut up, go home, mellow out, and find someone to give him some special attention back in Arkansas. His time has passed, so has Hillary's. The Clinton and Bush periods are over and done with thank God!

    October 14, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  12. S. B. Stein

    Politics are for making laws and not to be seen as religious doctrine. These people who see their religious motives to motivate their political activities don't understand that this isn't the place for that kind of thing.

    October 14, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. hougal

    why doesn't billy boy just GO AWAY

    October 14, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  14. Cathy

    No matter what you think about the Clinton presidency, he was not a mean spirited, vindictive, hateful sort of a guy. He was a leader. There are alot of us who would vote for somebody who actually stood for their convictions but also showed some respect for those who believe differently. The constant name calling and insults have gone a long way to convince many American people that most politicians are sleaze.

    October 14, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. BERNARD JOHNSON

    why dont they care about the people that have nothing.
    they stop the foodstamp system just to let the people know we have control we can stop anything at anytime if you like it or not .
    we as a country cant stand together but we are trying to tell other people how to run their country and about democracy i know they are laughing at us now!

    October 14, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  16. Phaerisee

    Amen, Brother Bill. Tell it like it is.

    October 14, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  17. Dennis

    I don't give a rats behind what opinion Clinton has. He is pure disgrace!

    October 14, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  18. Anthony Deisla

    Bush, Clinton, Bush and Reagan we're competent leader who could deal with college professors. Obama is not. He's garbage.

    October 14, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  19. Janalionberger

    There is no hope any longer. And my fear is that if Hillary runs and wins the Tea Party is going to be worse because she is a woman. They already can't stand that a Black man is the president not once but twice did they lose the elections. And all of this mess that the country is in is because they can't tolerate it. They are worse than school year bullies They should not be tolerated. These guys want us to have another civil war and they want lynchings again. Some how the GOP needs to have enough courage to stop them. The republican party is imploding but at the expense of the american people. The Tea Party is the worst example of American's that I have ever seen.

    October 14, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  20. Janalionberger

    I AM truly ashamed of the folks I have voted and sent to congress they are not who I thought I voted for they do not represent me. And I have spoke with hundreds and hundreds of Texans who are ashamed of Cruz. You need to sit him in the corner of the room with a dunce hat one, for lying and being a bully they send his butt back to texas and leave him there. If I was his mother I would drag him by his ear all the way back to Texas.....I do not tolerate liers

    October 14, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  21. PeeBee

    So, Mr. Clinton: Are you suggesting that after the Carl Rovian politics of firing up the conservative base and help win Bush two times, current GOP is using the tea-party inflames to fire up the conservative base and it will eventually end up in GOP victory in 2014?

    October 14, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. Dan J

    Interesting to see that Clinton is calling out Obama AND the republicans.

    October 15, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  23. Marius

    By the way Bill, great job you've done in office, In other words, the bigger your mouth the louder you shout..., wider your ass, louder you fart..., better get a con-gressman into a pro-gressman. . anywhere you turn nowadays $BILLS first, plain working people paying bills are trash to cons-gressman. Life support is not an option, neither to con-gressman, neither to your financier.

    Anyways, I'm an outsider, hopping for you all, get to you're senses. Rome fell, America cannot...

    October 15, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  24. 22

    Ted Cruz and the GOP/Teabags need to end this senseless shutdown,we're they not aware of how many departments or how many people's lives it would affect?Now Ted Cruz is feigning indignation over the shut down of parks,why are you complaining that you can't get to the candy aisle when you shut down the supermarket!

    October 15, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. Lenny Pincus

    Finally. Someone addresses the weird religion behind these Tea Party radicals.

    October 15, 2013 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
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