Video Flashback: Clinton points finger at Jennings, enraged at moral questioning (more video added)

posted at 6:06 pm on September 26, 2006 by Ian

Last week’s edition of FOX News Sunday was not the first time Bill Clinton jabbed his finger, blamed a network for his problems, and not take any personal responsibility. And it will certainly not be the last. The former President sparred with the late Peter Jennings during a 2004 interview at the Clinton library.


Jennings, who passed away last year, received rage after noting Clinton was ranked 41 (out of 41) for moral authority by a C-SPAN organized panel occupied by 58 historians. He responded “they were wrong about that” because “they were wrong about that”. Clinton then went on to wagging his finger at Jennings saying “you don’t have any example where I ever lied to the American people about my job”, to only conclude that he doesn’t “really care what they [the American people” think”. Jennings stopped him right in his tracks and confidently voiced “oh yes you do”, Clinton responds “you don’t want to go there, Peter”.

The most important part of the interview is encapsulated in what followed Clinton’s “you don’t want to get there” remark. Clinton, like his FNC interview, blamed the network for repeating “every little sleazy thing” Kenneth Starr “leaked”. Another similarity is where he admitted he failed. This failure wasn’t about his adulterous relationship(s), but that he let getting caught get to him.

CLINTON: You don’t want to go there, Peter. You don’t want to go there. Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that’s like. That’s where I failed. You want to know where I failed? I really let it, it hurt me. I thought I believed in a, I thought I lived in a country where people believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, freedom of speech. You never had to live in a time when people you knew and cared about were being indicted, carted off to jail, bankrupted, ruined because they were Democrats and because they would not lie. So I think we showed a lot of moral fiber to stand up to that, to stand up to these constant investigations, to this constant bodyguard of lies, this avalanche that was thrown at all of us. And, yes, I failed once. And I sure paid for it. And I’m sorry.

Jason Smith has other great moments in “finger wagging” history.

Update (10:35pm): I added more video from earlier in the interview so you could see what really sparked Clenis.


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I love how he refers to his “mistake”.

A mistake would be looking down and saying “Oh crap! You’re not Hillary!!”

But at least he didn’t blame the neo-cons in this one.

HerrMorgenholz on September 26, 2006 at 6:19 PM

Poor Willy. History is being compiled and his legacy is not standing up well to scrutiny. The better the results in the War on Terror, the worse he looks. At this point his best course of action would be to take credit for laying an intelligence ground work for the Bush Administration to take advantage of as they fought back against the terrorists. That may be more spin, but at least he ends up looking totally he made a positive contribution to the effort.

Mallard T. Drake on September 26, 2006 at 6:28 PM

“… but they aught to think about they way the rest of the World reacted to it.”

And thus, sums up the entire way he ran his administration. America? Eff you.

Editor on September 26, 2006 at 6:28 PM

There are those words again, “I failed.” He failed once then, he failed again in OBL. What’s the third failure? Is it me or am I seeing that when Clinton gets boxed into a corner he seems to cry “Uncle” by saying “I failed” and go into a long-winded spiel?

Kokonut on September 26, 2006 at 6:31 PM

That is “…at least he ends up looking *like* he made a positive contribution to the effort.” Sorry.

Mallard T. Drake on September 26, 2006 at 6:54 PM

He’s one scary, phalus-nosed man.

NTWR on September 26, 2006 at 7:04 PM

Klinton’s not used to people “talkin’ back” to him, is he?

“You don’t wanna go there Peter. Vince Foster went there once. ONLY once.”

Where’s “there” Bill? Fort Marcy Park?

Tony737 on September 26, 2006 at 7:07 PM

That sound you hear is his “legacy” swirling the drain.

BTW, Ian, did you catch Krauthammer on FNC about 10 minutes ago? An absolute smackdown on Clinton.

JammieWearingFool on September 26, 2006 at 7:07 PM

“Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

Tony737 on September 26, 2006 at 7:09 PM

“You People!” Leave his legacy alone!

Drtuddle on September 26, 2006 at 7:21 PM

Chris Wallace is usually a top pick for moderating political debates. I wonder if Clinton got fired up at him to lay the groundwork for Hillary refusing him as a 2008 campaign moderator? Maybe in favor of a gushing Olberman type?

MRegine on September 26, 2006 at 7:55 PM

Hmmh, love to see that finger wagging!

Catie96706 on September 26, 2006 at 8:21 PM

Bubba’s legacy is already written, he doesn’t need to get so upset! Its not like he is going to change it now. Maybe he can drive a few more nails into the coffin, but the deed is done. History records, time moves on. His legacy is set in concrete. Like boots, concrete boots. Drowned in the muck of his life.

shermacman on September 26, 2006 at 8:26 PM

It’s not just finger wagging. He leaned forward in kind of an “in-your-face” way during both the Jennings and Wallace interviews. You could write it off as unconscious body language, but in the Wallace interview it looks quite deliberate (as it does when he raps on the table next to Wallace’s leg). He gets rocking back and forth enough to make the chair hop at one point! (As seen in this longer clip linked at MetaFilter.)

insomni on September 26, 2006 at 9:39 PM

He continues to show his #1 personality flaw. He will not/ absolutely refuses to accept any real blame for his actions/inaction’s, and demands that he be seen as the superior democrat.

Head shrinks say that everyone is afraid to make a mistake, but in Billy Jeff’s instance it rises to psychotic levels. Indeed, it is that very fear that kept him from authorizing the capture, or killing of Osama, and today that fear has spread across the entire democratic party. They all talk the talk, but not a single one is capable of backing up their words with substantive action.

IMHO, Gore would have been a much better President than B. C. for the U.S., and for the democrats.

DannoJyd on September 26, 2006 at 10:45 PM

What. The. Hell. Is. He. Talking. About.

He thought he lived in a country about the Const, the rule of law, and free speech, meaning …. what? His cronies shouldn’t have been investigated for breaking the law?

What a pile of horseshit.

Kenneth Starr leaked, huh. Because federal investigations are … concealed from the public? Say wha?

Every little sleazy thing he leaked. Because he manufactured the sleaze himself, Starr did.

My God, does he even hear himself?

Anwyn on September 26, 2006 at 11:26 PM

Anywn: Hey, there are/have been a lot of liberals and members of the media that back him up on the “Starr-is-to-blame-for-all-my-troubles” meme. And unfortunately a significant number of Americans bought that story a long time ago. Probably the same ones who are raving about KO over at MetaFilter.

insomni on September 26, 2006 at 11:35 PM

I teach middle school (yah, I know) and Clinton’s blaming of others is very remeniscent of my students making excuses for their poor behavior. I give them a good verbal barrage when they start in with blaming others, it’s about time that Clinton was held accountable for his inexcusable inaction in the face of evil.

Mojave Mark on September 27, 2006 at 12:26 AM

Pretty sad when your own statements, just seconds apart, completely contradict themselves. I guess this is where Kerry got his campaign strategy.

As for this part:

The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked.

I’m waiting to hear that kind of rage over the countless leaks that have actually mattered, and affected national security over the past few years. Why doesn’t he care about and come out against those leaks? Because they don’t embarass him personally.

RightWinged on September 27, 2006 at 1:12 AM

Oh and let me just say about Jennings… He did Fox News’s ABC’s bidding. Did his right-wing hit piece. Sittin’ there with his smirk, he thought he was so clever.

RightWinged on September 27, 2006 at 1:23 AM

And there are still people who think this twit was a good president? I wouldn’t trust him to serve me a burger at McDonalds.

theholyhermit on September 27, 2006 at 1:29 AM

Wow, he reminds me of Joel Osteen in this vid.

BillLalor on September 28, 2006 at 11:20 AM