Former President Bill Clinton answered Rep. Michele Bachmann’s attack line about “gangster government,” which made headlines for the Minnesota Republican in the wake of Thursday’s Tax Day Tea Party rallies.
Speaking to the New York Times, Clinton said “They are not gangsters… They are not doing anything they were not elected to do.”
Clinton, echoing a recent floor speech by Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., drew parallels between the Tea Party’s anti-government rhetoric and the ideology of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who struck during Clinton’s first term in office.
Clinton called McVeigh and his supporters "profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line." He also lamented that the Internet has brought the world of disaffected politics to both the "serious and seriously disturbed."
Clinton told the Times he has no problem with lively political discourse, but warned lawmakers against rhetoric that can incite hatred and violence.
"Have at it," he said. "You can attack the politics. Criticize their policies. Don't demonize them, and don't say things that will encourage violent opposition."