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Finley: Bill Clinton got it right for a minute

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

For a hot minute, Bill Clinton was my hero.

Last week, while stumping for his wife in Philadelphia, the former president went off on a group of Black Lives Matter hecklers who disrupted his speech. The outfit is dogging both Clintons over their support in the 1990s of tough laws aimed at stemming violent crime.

“You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter,” Clinton shouted back during a lengthy exchange with the protesters. “Tell the truth.”

I loved it for a couple of reasons.

First, it was a sure enough reminder that Hillary and Bill are not the same Clinton.

The Democratic presidential nominee has been twisting herself into a pretzel to kiss up to Black Lives Matter, no matter how obnoxious their behavior or outrageous their claims.

The former president had the guts to remind BLM that while policies and policing may not be perfect, at the root of violent crime are violent criminals, and they must be dealt with. No other Democrat of note has dared challenge the group on any of its assertions. Poor Bernie Sanders had to do weeks of penance for having the gall to suggest all lives matter.

I also hoped that in giving it back to the protesters, Clinton might encourage others to retake the podium from grievance groups who believe the righteousness of their causes entitle them to behave in any uncivil manner they choose.

Politicians routinely now are drowned out by shouts from the crowd.

University deans are dressed down in the most rude and vulgar terms by overindulged brats who are too often rewarded by a complete capitulation to their demands.

Those who claim to want to “start a conversation” on one wrong or another aggressively stifle dissent and demand silence from those who disagree with them. Some conversation — they want to do all the talking and for everyone else to do all the listening.

So when Clinton turned the tables, I cheered. I should have known it was too good to last.

The punditry swiftly jumped on Clinton, suggesting the impolitic outburst would hurt his wife’s campaign. Analysts declared Bubba was going rogue again, and would have to be corralled before he bruised any more of the myriad identity groups that form the core of Hillary’s support.

Then predictably, Clinton took it all back.

He expressed regret not just for his irritation at those who wouldn’t let him talk, but also for putting in place the laws they were protesting.

So next time Clinton is heckled at a speech, don’t expect another defiant, truthful response. He’ll stand silently and endure every barb, no matter how misdirected or how offensive. He’s learned his lesson.

To be aggrieved in America today is to be empowered. And with power comes the right to change the rules of engagement to make discourse a one-sided lecture, delivered at full volume and laced with the smug entitlement that comes from being untouchable.

For a moment, Bill Clinton pushed back. But even a beloved icon of the left doesn’t have the cache to challenge the demagoguery of those who must not be offended. If he doesn’t, who does?

Nolan Finley’s “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice,” is available from Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble Nook.