From Clinton: We must get back to thinking, former President Bill Clinton sits down with 'Countdown's' Keith Olbermann
Getting back to thinking
OLBERMANN: So that’s involvement on a global scale on life and death issues, on the essential quality of life issues.
Here in this country, at the moment, there seem to be a lot of us who think that there are—we are having trouble getting people involved in defending essential ingredients of our country and our heritage. We’ve heard a lot about anyone who disagrees with the current administration’s policy in Iraq or on the war on terror, or even disputes their facts or questions them, would be suffering from moral or intellectual confusion.
The president talked about how in the world you could disagree with him. It’s unacceptable to think that we could ever be doing anything in any interrogation process that might be similar to what the terrorists do. When those of us worry about the future of the country and the past of the country, worry about our heritage, what we stand for, are we overreacting? Are we nuts? Are we exaggerating? Would you feel this is a threat?
CLINTON: No, let me say, first of all, you know, on a lot of these issues I’m more close to where you are. I think what’s the great disservice, though, that’s been done here in the last few years is not that let’s say the administration disagrees with you or me on whether there should be an Abu Ghraib or a Guantanamo or what the economic or social policies of America should be.
The great disservice is the creation of the idea that if you disagree with the people that are in, you’re somehow, you don’t love your country and you can’t be trusted to defend it. What we have to do is to get back to a point, to thinking in America and to promoting honest debate and honest diffences, so that like, if you asked, and I would urge you to do this, if you interview somebody in the administration, no matter how much you disagree with them, don’t be snide. Give them a straight up chance to say how they disagree with you.
I think that one of the things I’ve tried to do with this Global Initiative is not only to find common ground for disparate people, but also to have people calm down enough to actually air their differences of opinion. Like you take this interrogation dealing. We might all say the same thing if, let’s say Osama bin Laden’s number three guy were captured and we knew a big bomb was going off in America in three days.
It turns out right now there’s an exception for those kind of circumstance in an immediate emergency that’s proven in the military ranks. But that’s not the same thing as saying we want to abolish the Geneva Convention and practice torture as a matter of course. All it does is make our soldiers vulnerable to torture. It makes us more likely to get bad, not good information.
CLINTON: And every time we get some minor victory out of it, we’ll make a hundred more enemies, so I think these things, I really think we need to think through all of this and debate more. So, no I think it’s wrong for you to be portrayed as not patriotic. I think that’s wrong, but I think that those of us who are on the, kind of the progressive side of the ledger, we ought to find a way to say what our differences are in a way that even our adversaries can hear.
I’ve gotten a lot of big crowds this year of people who are unusually quiet. Because they just want to think. They’re tired of this labelling and name calling and we’re not patriotic and all that. They know that’s a whole bunch of bull and they just want to think it through. That’s why I think the CGI was phenomenally successful this year. People said, OK, here’s something I can do that is profoundly good and positive. No one’s going to question my motives and I’ll either succeed or fail based on the results.
Wow! With all the negative publicity schools get who would have thought thinking would become a political talking point?