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September 22nd, 2009
06:39 AM ET

Bill Clinton sounds off on Obama racism charge

(CNN) - While some criticism targeting President Obama is racially motivated, the fight over health care isn't, former President Bill Clinton told CNN Monday.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former President Bill Clinton says Democrats need to win the health care debate "on the merits.""]

"I believe that some of the right-wing extremists which oppose President Obama are also racially prejudiced and would prefer not to have an African-American president," Clinton told CNN's Larry King in a wide-ranging interview aired Monday evening. "But I don't believe that all the people who oppose him on health care - and all the conservatives - are racists. And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then."

Clinton discussed a variety of issues facing the Obama administration - from health care to the war in Afghanistan - on the eve of the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

Regarding race, the former president was referring to an outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, who shouted, "You lie," at Obama during the president's joint address to Congress, and also former President Jimmy Carter's assessment that racism is an obstacle for the current president.

"While I have devoted my life to getting rid of racism, I think this [health care] is a fight that my president and our party - this is one we need to win on the merits," Clinton said.

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Filed under: Controversy • Politics
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Malie

    Matt, Washington Dc. Seems someone has a lot of time to waste watching t.v. and putting your statistics together on the internet when you should be looking for THAT job. Government injustice???? It is a recession. People not having jobs now has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with being in 2 wars that Americans are dying in. But people like you who are just as bad as the kkk couldn't possibly understand nor comprehend. You hide behind your computer like they hide behind their hoods ignorant and afraid.

    October 6, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  2. Donna

    Matt, Washington DC. You say to us "welcome to the back of the bus"???? Wow that's ignorant and HIPPOCRITICAL. You are a HIPPOCRATE. I drive a car to work. And I use that car to get to work so that I can work with my "melting pot of coworkers". Would you like me to give you a dollar so that you can get a free ride to ride on the front of the bus? Wow you are ignorant, and if a white person said that it would be all over the news!!! Boy oh boy would MLK have a field day whipping your behind if he was alive. There are waaaaaaaaaay more BLACK RACISTS in America. You prove all the white peoples points. You spew of venom that reaks havok on your race. You want to stay ignorant and segragted because you can't open your eyes to see that it is politics going on in the world and not racism..You don't have any idea what is happening in the real working world. Hope YOU live on the busline.

    October 6, 2009 at 5:15 am |
  3. Donna

    Beautifully put Steve in Atlanta!

    October 6, 2009 at 4:54 am |
  4. Steve in Atlanta

    Having worked in Dr. King’s movement before he was murdered, I saw pervasive racism among whites in the South. However, everyone, including President Carter, needs to move beyond the 60’s. Otherwise, we will all be caught in the past; and caught in a cycle of victimization.

    Also, there is Black racism as well (examples- Van Jones and Rev. Wright); but that discussion usually ends with excuses and justification for Black racism.

    There’s also the confusion of the term “racism” with bigotry or bias. They are three separate things. Racism is the belief of one race being superior to another. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black or White; if you believe one race is superior, you’re a racist. If you believe that Blacks are morally superior because “Black folk were never in any position of power to carry out such atrocities towards Whites.”, you’re a racist.

    Joe Wilson was rude and inappropriate to President Obama; but it was not “racist”. His apology will never be enough for the liberals who are bias toward Southerners, nor the bigotry toward conservatives in the MSM.

    BTW, my wife is “a woman of color” who got an MBA and is very successful in the corporate world; not because of what I did for her nor because of affirmative action; but because of her own efforts. She’s more successful than 95% of the white guys in her company.

    Again, there’s racism on all sides. But, it is dramatically better among whites than when I grew up; or even 20 years ago. Based on what my wife hears in private from her Black friends, I don’t think Black racism has improved much. I don’t see how it can when it’s justified by historical victimization that no longer exists.

    September 23, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  5. 62yearoldbusinessman

    I don't listen to Glen Beck or the channel he is on anymore. Or Rush either, even though I used to listen all the time.

    September 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  6. CHUCK


    September 22, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  7. CHUCK


    September 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  8. David

    "...And I believe if he were white, every single person who opposes him now, would be opposing him then.”

    The fact is that President Obama is also "white." He is 50% Caucasian and 50% African. So, when someone like Glen Beck accuses the President of being prejudice to "white" people, it is not only ridiculous, it is almost laughable.

    September 22, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  9. Kelly Philp

    I think guns are useless for defense because what are the chances that the gun will be loaded and in one's hand when there is a break-in or sudden violence? Does one keep a loaded gun handy with kids around? Insane.

    September 22, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  10. Mike Armstrong TX.

    Whats going on hear is that the democrats know that if they play the race card they can downplay the republicans this has to be true because only the democrats are crying racism.

    September 22, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  11. gizmo

    The fomer President should know how it feels to be called a racist when you know you are not racist. He was made out to be a racist last year. I have found that the people who are always shouting and accusing people of being racists are actually the biggest racists of them all or they have no other way to debate so they resort to shouting you're a racist. It is true that there are some who are racists, but I believe it is a small minority. And what really gets me is that liberals think their party is racist free. Hate to inform them that racists exists on the liberal side too.

    September 22, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  12. millie moore

    I am a little sick and tired of every time something is said that the Obama administration doesn't like they have to say that it is racist. Get over it. I am not racist, but I am so sick of hearing about the blacks not getting enough. They have just as much of an opportunity to go to school, college or what ever else is needed to better themselves as a white person does. Maybe even more. It is not our fault that so many of them choose not to. Can you imagine what would happen if we wanted a White Miss America Pagent? How about White History Month, or a United White College? We would all be called racists for that. Well, maybe we should start calling racists to them.

    September 22, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  13. Matt, Washington DC

    What? Do African Americans not like Tea? Parties? Yeah, I know, I know racists. They like Kool-Aid.
    Why don’t you do a segment on other parts of the country where people aren’t mad? In fact, go to a LIBERAL part of the country like San Francisco where Blacks, Asians, Whites and Spanish are getting along just fine; or just anywhere with a population over 400. Then come back and show it to the people who are MAD to piss them off? That may help you achieve your obvious goals of increasing ratings.

    Consider this. The (U6) Unemployment Rate, the Real Unemployment Rate before LBJ changed it, is 16.8% and climbing; 21% for African Americans and just under 30% for African American men according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for black men with four year degrees is three times that of white men. Yet, you don’t see them being “Mad As Hell…!”
    Why do you think that is? It’s because they’ve always been subjected to what many people are being subjected to for the first times in their lives. This is why you hear people say they “Want their country back.” Minorities have been crying out about government injustice for decades. Now that others are feeling their pain they want something done? Trickle-Down Economics isn’t so appealing now that you are the one getting the trickle now; is it? All I have to say to that is, “Welcome to the back of the bus. Make yourself comfortable! ”
    I’ll leave you with my favorite Yul Brynner quote from the movie Ten Commandments, “Let them rave on that men shall know them mad!” (literally)

    September 22, 2009 at 7:17 am |