Hillary Clinton: shooting a form of "extremism" 

In an interview with CNN's Jill Dougherty during a visit to Yemen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she has been hearing condolences from around the world over the shooting rampage in Tucson.

"I happen to know the congresswoman. I think very highly of her," Clinton said. "She’s an extraordinary person as well as a great public servant. And the loss of all of the people – the federal judge, the nine-year-old girl, and others – is just heartbreaking to me."

Clinton, who was first lady during the Oklahoma City bombing, called crossing from language to violence an expression of extremism.

"I think when you cross the line from expressing opinions that are of conflicting differences in our political environment into taking action that’s violent action, that’s a hallmark of extremism, whether it comes from the right, the left, from al-Qaeda, from anarchists, whoever it is," Clinton said. "That is a form of extremism.  So yes, I think that when you’re a criminal who is in some way pursuing criminal activity connected to – however bizarre and poorly thought through – your political views, that’s a form of extremism."

While President Obama so far has steered clear of assigning any blame or joining in the ongoing, somewhat agonized debate over rhetoric, former President Bill Clinton addressed it directly during remarks yesterday in Haiti. From the NYT:

“No one intends to do anything that encourages this sort of behavior,” Mr. Clinton told the British Broadcasting Corporation. But he said the political commentary should not “degenerate into demonization” because it “falls on the unhinged and the hinged alike.”

The "hinged." Hm. We like. Continuing:

Mr. Clinton said that politicians and others who engage in verbal battle “cannot be unaware of the fact that – particularly with the Internet – there’s this huge echo chamber out there.”

Former presidents tend to love the freedom to speak their minds that comes with slipping the burdens of office, and none more than Clinton. It will be interesting to see whether Obama lets Clinton take the lead on this line of discussion, or if he takes it up himself (we're guessing) in his upcoming State of the Union.

 

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