In recent days, President Bill Clinton has warned that incendiary rhetoric and "demonizing the government" incited domestic terrorism during his presidency and threatened to do so again. On his April 19 broadcast, Rush Limbaugh responded by unleashing a torrent of incendiary rhetoric, claiming that the Obama administration is "ripp[ing] apart" and "overthrow[ing]" the country and blaming Clinton for the Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Clinton: "Demonizing" gov't, public servants can lead to domestic terror
In an April 16 speech, Clinton said of the 1995 bomb attack on an Oklahoma City federal building:
The second lesson we have to learn is that we can't let the debate veer so far into hatred that we lose focus of our common humanity. It's really important. We can't ever fudge the fact that there is a basic line dividing criticism from violence or its advocacy. And the closer you get to the line, and the more responsibility you have, the more you have to think about the echo chamber in which your words resonate.
Look, criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. Nobody's right all the time. But Oklahoma City proved once again that, beyond the law, there is no freedom. And there is a difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedom and the public servants who implement them. And the more prominence you have in politics or media or some other pillar of life, the more you have to keep that in mind.
But what we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold, but that the words we use really do matter because there are -- 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. And I am not trying to muzzle anybody.
But one of the things that the conservatives have always brought to the table in America is a reminder that no law can replace personal responsibility. And the more power you have, and the more influence you have, the more responsibility you have. Look, I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else; let them have at it.
But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled. We know, now, that there are people involved in groups -- these "hatriot" groups, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, the others -- 99 percent of them will never do anything they shouldn't do. But there are people who advocate violence and anticipate violence.
When George Washington served his two terms and went home to Mount Vernon to retire and John Adams became president, he was called out of retirement one time. You know what it was? He was called out of retirement to command the Armed Forces sent to Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, because good Americans who had fought for this country crossed the line from advocating a different policy and opposing the current one to taking the law into their own hands in a violent manner.
Once in a while, over the last 200 years, we've crossed the line again. But by and large, that bright line has held, and that's why this is the longest-lasting democracy in human history. That's why there is so much free speech. That's why people can organize their groups. It may seem like fringe groups that advocate whatever the livin' Sam Hill they want to advocate. That's why. But we have to keep the bright line alive. So that's the second lesson.
Limbaugh says Obama administration is "authoritarian," "overthrow[ing]" the country
Limbaugh: "The country is being overthrown," "ripped apart, transformed, right before our very eyes." Limbaugh responded by arguing that Clinton's comments were part of an effort to smear the tea party movement. He stated: "The reality is that it's the Obama crowd that doesn't like government, that doesn't like the country. It's the Obama crowd and all of their related groups that have been protesting for as long as I've been alive that don't like the country; the tea party people love this country." He added that the tea party people are just angry because the "country is being overthrown. The country is being ripped apart, transformed, right before our very eyes, and in a fraudulent manner."
Limbaugh: " 'Regime' implies and defines authoritarian governments, which this one clearly is." Responding to a critique of his use of the word "regime" to describe the Obama administration, Limbaugh explained that " 'regime' implies and defines authoritarian governments, which this one clearly is."
Limbaugh: "I am treated as an enemy of the state." Limbaugh stated: "I, a guy on the radio who can't raise anybody's taxes, can't send anybody off to war, I cannot do one thing -- I can't harm you economically, I can't do a damn -- I am treated as an enemy of the state."
Limbaugh: "Obama urges more opposition to us than he does Islamic terrorists." Limbaugh stated: "I'm not saying that if we weren't around they'd be beating Obama up. Don't misunderstand. They would be full-throated supporters of Obama. But if we weren't around it wouldn't be this slavish, in the tank, sycophantic coverage. Because they now feel it necessary to defend themselves -- and him -- against us. Look at -- Obama urges more opposition to us than he does Islamic terrorists."
Limbaugh blames Clinton for the Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11
Limbaugh asks Clinton, "What words caused Timothy McVeigh to act," says McVeigh was "outraged over the government invasion" in Waco. Responding to Clinton's statement that "the words we use do really matter," Limbaugh asked of Clinton: "What words caused Timothy McVeigh to act? Name one. I want to know what words and who spoke them. What are the words that Timothy McVeigh heard? What are the words he admitted that he heard that prompted him to act?" Limbaugh went on to say: "All I've ever heard is that Timothy McVeigh was outraged over the government invasion led by Janet Reno of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. And the Murrah building was blown up on that exact date two years later. ... Somebody show me the words, Mr. President, that McVeigh heard and caused him to act."
Limbaugh: "McVeigh was not inspired by anybody's words, he was inspired by Mr. Clinton's deeds." Limbaugh said that "McVeigh was not inspired by anybody's words, he was inspired by Mr. Clinton's deeds. And this is what they're trying to wash over; this is what they're trying to erase from the historical record."
Limbaugh: Clinton has "ties to the domestic terrorism of Oklahoma City." Limbaugh said that Clinton, the Obama administration, and the press can "try to make Oklahoma City the result of a modern tea party movement," but "President Clinton's ties to the domestic terrorism of Oklahoma City are tangible; talk radio's ties are nonexistent. We had nothing to do with it."
Limbaugh: Because Clinton "ignored terrorism throughout the '90s," "the country was attacked on 9-11." Limbaugh stated: "Let us not forget Bill Clinton ignored terrorism throughout the '90s. As a result, the country was attacked on 9-11. Debra Burlingame with a great column in The Wall Street Journal today. It's just not 9-11. How about the World Trade Center bombing in '93 on Clinton's watch; the Khobar Towers on Clinton's watch? There were so many acts of terrorism in this country and around the world on Clinton's watch. He didn't care about it. He didn't fight -- he wanted to take on hard issues -- he loved that 65 percent approval number."
Limbaugh attacks Clinton for his role in "domestic violence," "Waco invasion"
Limbaugh says children at Waco "really got abused by the U.S. government." Discussing the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Limbaugh said: "Sixty-seven people died in the fire -- we remember watching it -- 20 children. Janet Reno said we have to go in there because children are being abused. Yep. They really got abused by the U.S. government."
Limbaugh: "President Clinton ... has had a direct and indirect role in so much pain and domestic violence." Limbaugh stated: "So, throughout the '90s, we are the victims of terrorism acts by people who Obama will not even call terrorists now. Bill Clinton and Janet Reno didn't just threaten violence at Waco -- they delivered it. As a result, American citizens -- children, women, mothers -- were killed. And what followed was a domestic terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City. And President Clinton, who has had a direct and indirect role in so much pain and domestic violence, lectures us about threats and acts of violence?"
Limbaugh: OKC bombing was "about the U.S. military invading a religious compound." Limbaugh told listeners, "Don't forget that the Oklahoma City bombing occurred two years to the day after the Waco invasion -- two years to the day -- and Tim McVeigh as much as said so." Continuing, Limbaugh said that Clinton was involved in "an attempt to rewrite the history of the Oklahoma City bombing and the president's role in it. ... They know this is about Waco. They know this is about the U.S. military invading a religious compound."
Limbaugh: "You have President Clinton here simply lying about a terrible tragedy." Limbaugh said: "You have President Clinton here simply lying about a terrible tragedy to try to chill free speech and libeling me and the tea party at the same time. It does not get more despicable than this."
Limbaugh: Tea party is "the first time" that "everyday citizens" have "risen up" "since the Civil War"
Limbaugh stated: "What is it that's remarkable about the tea party is that it's the first time an uprising of common, ordinary, average everyday citizens since the Civil War has risen up like this."