WASHINGTON – Former President Bill Clinton warned Friday that the anti-government fringe could provoke the kind of political extremism that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing.
“Before the bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever” in the political dialogue that was in ways similar in content to the anger currently boiling up on talk radio and on the Internet, Clinton said at a forum on the 15th anniversary of the attack by Timothy McVeigh that killed 168.
“The fabric of American life had been unraveling” in 1995 amid high unemployment, Clinton said.
“The structure of the Cold War — the clear bipolar world — was coming to an end,” Clinton said. “There were more and more people having trouble figuring out where they fit in. It is true that we see some of that today.”
Clinton said people have the right “to advocate whatever the livin’ Sam Hill they want to advocate” but they must observe “the basic line dividing criticism from violence or its advocacy.”
The enthusiasm for the current Tea Party movement was essentially within bounds, Clinton said.
“This Tea Party movement can be a healthy thing if they are making us justify every dollar of taxes we raise and every dollar of money we’ve spent,” Clinton said.
“But when you get mad, sometimes you end up producing the exact opposite result of what you say you are for.”