Bill Clinton on shutdown: ‘politics is not theology’
October 14th, 2013
05:46 PM ET
9 years 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. AyresRocket

    Both Canada and Australia have Universal health cover...and look what a mess their economies are in....oh wait.....

    October 15, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    President Obama must stand firm against Republican pressure. We elected him to a second term because we did not want a Republican.

    October 15, 2013 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  3. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    Give em Hell Bill while Hillary is picking out her WH curtains.

    October 15, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  4. David Marriott

    Coming from the man who gave us, NAFTA, the first world trade center bombing (Bin Laden 1993) and the Fannie and Freddie housing bubble in 1994 doesn't have any room to talk! ...embarassing!

    October 15, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  5. Tom

    The Tea Party does not know how to govern, and Congressman who follow the Tea Party's warped ideology should be voted out of office.

    October 15, 2013 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  6. justininrome

    gets Mr Clinton a chair next to Mr Carter

    October 15, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  7. Milton Cooper

    The current administration wants the poor to lash out violently when they don't recieve food stamps or any other handout so he can declare martial law when or if they riot for food. Clinton knows this.

    October 15, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  8. Thomas

    Bachmann: 'End Times' Are Coming

    I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times.

    Then it makes total sense not to keep the Government Running ?

    October 15, 2013 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  9. Ahmed M Ibrahim

    Mr.Bill Clinton is perhaps one of the few statesmen whose opinion carriers a lot of weight in present day situation in the United States, which was one of the most prosperous and powerful state in the world under his tenure. His suggestions should be carefully studied and implemented to correct the impasse.

    October 15, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  10. edutron

    Well there Mr. president: It is nice to see a fire and anger at your own political party that has induced Communistic directives that reduces the well being of the United States. You are correct sir that spite from one man or maybe two due to an arrogance of figure has no place. No matter, your words spew out, but no further. A Capitalist (Imperialist) nation cannot have 1/3 of its population on Government subsidies and expect progress let alone prosperity. Careful, the rest may throw in towel.

    October 15, 2013 04:27 am at 4:27 am |
  11. larry

    Obama is the problem. Both he and his voters hate America.

    October 15, 2013 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  12. greenislanddreams

    Easy for Bill to say. He was at loggerheads with the Republicans much of his two terms. In fact, they tried to impeach him! How soon we forget.

    October 15, 2013 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  13. John Galt

    Oh Bill, you job-exporting elder statesman for globalization. Politics in a republic is just like theology. It is faith based -faith in your representative. Faith that your single vote will make a difference. And anything faith based is irrational and can be manipulated. Thought they taught that is lawyer school.

    October 15, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  14. G_Edwards

    One need only look at the State of the Union speeches to determine the source of the divide. Not until President #44 has there been repeated negative references to the other party.


    October 15, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  15. Bostondan

    Translation: do what MY team wants!
    Conflict, though painful, is the best way to have a good outcome!

    October 15, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  16. TeaRob

    As a tea party conservative i am fired up! We need to get spending under control and the only way to do it is to shut down the government, because obama and dingy harry have no interest in solving the debt problem. Thats why they wont talk with republicans. They are afraid of a solution. Im 25 years old and i think i could govern better than those two idiots

    October 15, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  17. Jerry

    Elder statesmen, what a laugh

    October 15, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
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