Former President Bill Clinton got into trouble with conservatives after he compared today’s political climate with the climate preceding the Oklahoma City bombing. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to be having a moment of his own: in a little-noticed appearance Wednesday, he suggested that the Tea Party will become the “militant wing of the Republican Party.”
But this time, conservatives aren’t up in arms.
While speaking at an event in York County, Pennsylvania Wednesday, Gingrich left some in the audience scratching their heads. According to the The York Dispatch, Gingrich said the movement is a “natural expression of frustration with Republicans and anger at Democrats,” which is “more likely to end up as the militant wing of the Republican Party” than a third party.
A resident who attended the speech disagreed. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘militant,” she said.
While liberals may be surprised at Gingrich’s characterization, Politics Daily D.C. Bureau Chief David Corn thinks that Gingrich didn’t see it as an insult. “I think there’s always been a split personalty between the newt that wants to see himself as a statesman and the newt that wants to see himself as a bomb thrower,” Corn told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Thursday.
“But the important thing you hear is that he’s talking about the Tea Party as an extension of the Republican Party. Which polls show, it is,” said Corn.
Bill Clinton recently warned that Tea Party anger could incite right wing extremism.
“Before the bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America,” Clinton said at a symposium on the bombing’s 15th anniversary. “Meanwhile, the fabric of American life had been unraveling. More and more people who had a hard time figuring out where they fit in, it is true that we see some of that today.”
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh fired back at Clinton, saying that he’d be to blame if right wing extremists became violent.
“I’m going to state right now, if there is a future incident such as Oklahoma City the blame is squarely on the shoulders of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama,” Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh has been silent on Gingrich’s remarks.
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast April 22, 2010.