April 7, 2016

Former President Bill Clinton sounded like a cranky Fox news viewer on the campaign trail today while stumping for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia today.

His speech was repeatedly interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, specifically with regard to his crime bill and the consequences of it today.

When pushed on it, Clinton lashed back, citing the discussions at the time that were emanating from the black community about crime in their communities.

“I talked to a bunch of African-American groups [in 1994], they think black lives matter. [The groups said] to take this bill because people are being shot in the street by gangs. We had 13-year-old kids planning their own funerals,” Bill Clinton said at the Philadelphia rally.

“Whose lives were saved that mattered?”

He went on to highlight other provisions of the crime bill — the assault weapons ban, money for after-school programs for inner-city children and funding for additional police officers that Clinton said reduced the need for police to bring in "militarized" equipment — as well as Clinton’s work with disadvantaged children and on cataloging discrimination in an Alabama school.

So far, so good, but then it went off the rails, when the protesters accused him of crimes against humanity, sparking an angry response.

“I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped up on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children,” Clinton growled. “Maybe you thought they were good citizens… You are defending the people who kill the people whose lives you say matter!”

Clinton then went into grumpy old man mode, telling them, “You need a president who will tell you the truth, answer the questions, and not be intimidated by people on the far right and far left screaming things that are not true.”

You'd think he'd know better than this by now. All the candidates have been the targets of protesters, and yet he handled this like a cranky man who just turned off Bill O'Reilly's show. It's not helpful, and it's not a way to spark meaningful dialogue between people who are demanding to be heard and a candidate running for office.

Take a break, Bill Clinton. Then breathe a bit before you act like this. Bill Kristol's site has already clipped that little piece where you seem to be repeating the black-on-black crime trope. Yep, clipped, taken out of context, and it will be used to do harm.

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