The problem for Mr. Clinton is that his concern about the dangers of incendiary rhetoric seems to have taken flight during the two terms of the Bush presidency, as well as during his own. Regarding the former, there was, for starters, the 2006 film, The Death of a President, on the assassination of President Bush. Mr. Clinton did not, to my knowledge, condemn the movie in a front-page story in the New York Times or in a major speech.
Ponnuru joins in:
Former president Clinton--who, as Peter Wehner reminds us, didn't raise a peep when liberals were writing novels and making movies about assassinating President Bush--got into the act over the weekend, suggested that today's anti-government rhetoric could encourage bloodshed.
A few facts about The Death of a President make it a pretty lousy comparison. First, it was a British film, not an American one, which undercuts Ponnuru's attempt to equate today's overheated right-wing rhetoric with previous liberal speech. Second, nobody saw it. The movie grossed a meager half a million dollars in the US, and was in theaters for only 14 days. It was utterly insignificant, which goes a long way towards explaining why Bill Clinton didn't bother to condemn it.
By the way, Hillary Clinton did weigh in, calling the movie "despicable" and "absolutely outrageous" and adding "That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick."
On September 22, conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough announced an "honor roll" for conservatives who are willing to denounce Glenn Beck's "hatred," making specific reference to Beck's statement that President Obama is "a racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Several media conservatives in addition to Scarborough have denounced Beck's rhetoric as "harmful" and "race-baiting."