President Bill Clinton headlined last week's Campus Progress conference, an annual gathering held to inspire young liberals to activism, and below are some highlights from his address:
Early on in the speech, Clinton called diversity "America's greatest asset", and said he "passionately believe[s] in the DREAM Act." He continued, "I think we're better off with more immigrants, not fewer," but did not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants.
Clinton also criticized conservatives, saying, "The current governing philosophy of the Republicans in Congress is that America would be just fine if we could weaken the government more. The government is the source of all of our problems." He attributed the origin of this philosophy's influence to the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, and claimed that such a philosophy "would strike the Founding Fathers as...strange"-an odd position, given that the American Revolution was fought to escape excessive government power.
The former president did admit that the Democrats received "a terrible whippin'" in the 2010 midterm elections, but quickly amended this statement, saying his party would have done better if only voters had known "basic facts".
He went on to argue that Obama's stimulus package was not a failure, and that it was only designed to "put a floor in the hole", not to actually generate an economic recovery.
And lest anyone be concerned that the federal government went too far in bailing out failing companies, Clinton assured his audience that "the automobile restructuring...was not a bailout" (despite the fact that it entailed vast amounts of taxpayer money going to rescue sinking manufacturers).
Then, drawing a line fine even by Clinton's standards, he further assured listeners that his fellow partisans, when devising their health care reform laws, "didn't [cut Medicare]; what they did was to reduce the amount of increase given to certain Medicare services..."
He also told the audience of young liberals, in reference to some conservatives' push to end same-day voter registration and other flexible voting laws, that there exists a "disciplined, passionate, and determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting...."
And the Republican-bashing didn't stop there. Near the end of his speech, while discussing Florida governor Rick Scott's opposition to a law granting criminals the right to vote after completing their sentences, Clinton posed the question, "Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they've paid their price?" His answer (on Scott's behalf): "Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics that would tend to vote for Democrats; that's why."