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Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Quotations



William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (born 19 August 1946) US politician, 42nd President of the United States; husband of Hillary Clinton.

Pre-Presidency

  • I feel your pain.
    • Response to AIDS activist Bob Rafsky at the Laura Belle nightclub in Manhattan (27 March 1992)


  • It is time to heal America. And so we must say to every American: Look beyond the stereotypes that blind us. We need each other. All of us—we need each other. We don't have a person to waste. And yet for too long politicians have told the most of us that are doing all right that what's really wrong with America is the rest of us. Them. Them, the minorities. Them, the liberals. Them, the poor. Them, the homeless. Them, the people with disabilities. Them, the gays. We've gotten to where we've nearly "them"ed ourselves to death. Them and them and them. But this is America. There is no them; there's only us. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all.


  • When I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two—and didn't like it—and didn't inhale and never tried inhaling again.
    • Television interview (March 1992), quoted in the New York Times (31 March 1992) realone audio file

Presidency


  • Posterity is the world to come; the world for whom we hold our ideals, from whom we have borrowed our planet, and to whom we bear sacred responsibility. We must do what America does best: offer more opportunity to all and demand responsibility from all.
    • First Inaugural Address (January 20, 1993)

  • You know, we can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans to legitimately own handguns and rifles—it's something I strongly support—we can't be so fixated on that that we are unable to think about the reality of life that millions of Americans face on streets that are unsafe, under conditions that no other nation—no other nations—has permitted to exist. And at some point, I still hope that the leadership of the National Rifle Association will go back to doing what it did when I was a boy and which made me want to be a lifetime member because they put out valuable information about hunting and marksmanship and safe use of guns. But just to know of the conditions we face today in a lot of our cities and other places in this country and the enormous threat to public safety is amazing.

  • Let me tell you something—wait a minute. You know one thing that's wrong with this country? Everybody gets a chance to have their fair say—my budget did more to fight AIDS than any in history, and we're having to put up with this. Tell them to let me talk. If you want to give a speech—go out there and raise your own crowd. We'll be glad to listen to you. So there were those—I'll make you a deal. I'll ignore them if you will.


  • African-Americans watch the same news at night that ordinary Americans do.
    • White House interview with Ed Gordon, correspondent for Black Entertainment Television (2 November 1994)

  • The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth.
    • Remarks at dedication of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut (October 15, 1995). ibiblio.org

  • Shalom haver. Goodbye friend. In Hebrew: שלום, חבר.

  • Our rich texture of racial, religious and political diversity will be a Godsend in the 21st century. Great rewards will come to those who can live together, learn together, work together, forge new ties that bind together.
    • Second Inaugural Address (January 20, 1997)

  • Abigail, do you favor the U.S. Army abolishing the affirmative action program that produced Colin Powell? Yes or no? Yes or no?

  • I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm gonna say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never. These allegations are false, and I need to go back to work for the American people.

  • Next, we must help parents protect their children from the gravest health threat that they face -- an epidemic of teen smoking, spread by multimillion dollar marketing campaigns. I challenge Congress -- let's pass bipartisan, comprehensive legislation that will improve public health, protect our tobacco farmers and change the way tobacco companies do business forever. Let's do what it takes to bring teen smoking down. Let's raise the price of cigarettes by up to $1.50 a pack over the next 10 years with penalties on the tobacco industry if it keeps marketing to our children.
    • 1998 State of the Union Address

  • No one wants to get this matter behind us more than I do—except maybe all the rest of the American people.

  • It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the—if he—if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.
    • Grand jury testimony (August 17, 1998)

  • Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action.

  • All of you know I'm having to become quite an expert in this business of asking for forgiveness. And I ----. It gets a little easier the more you do it. And if you have a family, an Administration, a Congress and a whole country to ask, you're going to get a lot of practice. But I have to tell that in these last days it has come home to me again, something I first learned as President, but it wasn't burned in my bones -- and that is that in order to get it, you have to be willing to give it. And all of us -- the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the desire for recrimination against people you believe have wronged you -- they harden the heart and deaden the spirit and lead to self-inflicted wounds. And so it is important that we are able to forgive those we believe have wronged us, even as we ask for forgiveness from people we have wronged. And I heard that first -- first -- in the Civil Rights Movement. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

  • Whether our ancestors came here on the Mayflower, on slave ships, whether they came to Ellis Island or LAX in Los Angeles, whether they came yesterday or walked this land a thousand years ago our great challenge for the 21st century is to find a way to be One America. We can meet all the other challenges if we can go forward as One America.

  • A hundred years from tonight, another American President will stand in this place and report on the State of the Union. He—or she—(applause)—he or she will look back on a 21st century shaped in so many ways by the decisions we make here and now. So let it be said of us then that we were thinking not only of our time, but of their time; that we reached as high as our ideals; that we put aside our divisions and found a new hour of healing and hopefulness; that we joined together to serve and strengthen the land we love.
    • State of the Union Address (January 19, 1999)

  • We want to live forever, and we're getting there.

  • You know, if I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That's a good-looking mummy.
    • Looking at "Juanita," a newly discovered Incan mummy on display at the National Geographic museum

  • Yesterday is yesterday. If we try to recapture it, we will only lose tomorrow.
    • President Clinton's sixth State of the Union Address
    • This quote was later used as a sample by electronic duo Cosmic Gate in their track "Tomorrow"

  • When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly…

  • History has shown us, that you can't allow the mass extermination of people, and just sit by and watch it happen.

Post-Presidency

  • Because Israel believes, when it comes right down to it America is the only big country that cares whether they live or die. That's why I can say, give up the West Bank, because the Israelis knew that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan river, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die, and I would.
    • At a benefit dinner hosted by the Canadian Jewish Congress in Toronto, Ontario, 2002 CNN Transcript

  • You should have disagreements with your leaders and your colleagues, but if it becomes immediately a question of questioning people's motives, and if immediately you decide that somebody who sees a whole new situation differently than you must be a bad person and somehow twisted inside, we are not going to get very far in forming a more perfect union.

  • And I think America, if we're ever going to truly defeat terror without changing the character of our own country or compromising the future of our children, has got to not only say, "Okay, I want to shoulder my responsibilities, I want to create my share of opportunities" but we have to find a way to define the future in terms of a humanity that goes beyond our country, that goes beyond any particular race, that goes beyond any particular religion.
    • Statement (May 21, 2004)

  • I felt like a pickle stepping into history.
    • During the unveiling of his official portrait in the East Room of the White House (June 14, 2004)

  • People like you always help the far-right, because you like to hurt people, and you like to talk about how bad people are and all their personal failings.
    • On the emphasis in the news media on the Starr investigation and the Lewinsky affair (June 22nd, 2004) Panorama interview

  • You know, I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over. I don't believe he went in there for oil. We didn't go in there for imperialist or financial reasons. We went in there because he bought the Wolfowitz-Cheney analysis that the Iraqis would be better off, we could shake up the authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East, and our leverage to make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis would be increased.
    • Interview with Time Magazine, June 2004

  • Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.
    • In support of John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention, Boston, MA, July 26, 2004

  • What are the needs of the world? What can I do that won't be done if I don't do it?
    • ABC Primetime Live interview during opening of his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., November 2004

  • What we have to do now is not to forget these people and places when all the cameras are not there. I think that’s the most important message I can say to the American people right now.
    • While touring tsunami-devastated areas with his presidential predecessor, George H. W. Bush, February 2005

  • We need a steady stream of cash. The American people have been uncommonly generous.
    • While touring tsunami-devastated areas with his presidential predecessor, George H. W. Bush, February 20, 2005


  • If ever there comes a time when everyone you vote for wins and they do everything you think they should do, there will still be a gap between what is and what ought to be.

  • So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted. So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. ... And you've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.

  • The problem with ideology is, if you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up. You know all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time. You tend to govern by assertion and attacks.
    • At an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress, October 18, 2006

  • I learned a lot from the stories my uncle, aunts, and grandparents told me: that no one is perfect but most people are good; that people can't be judged only by their worst or weakest moments; that harsh judgements make hypocrites of us all; that a lot of life is just showing up and hanging on; that laughter is often the best, and sometimes only response to pain.
    • My Life (2004), page 15






  • I just love that rug.
    • Small chatter with George W. Bush in the Oval Office

Newsweek magazine

Attributed


Quotes about Clinton



  • Then the big white whale, Clinton. What about someone who is a war criminal, a taker of bribes from foreign dictatorships, almost certainly a rapist (plausibly accused, anyway, by three believable women, of rape), executed a black man (Ricky Ray Rector) who was so mentally retarded that he was unable to plead or to understand the charges — You're against all that, right? But you're for it when it's someone who you think is a "New Democrat".
    • "Conversations with History: A Dissenting Voice" Christopher Hitchens, interview by Harry Kreisler (2002-04-25)

  • This whole thing about not kicking someone when they are down is BS. Not only do you kick him, you kick him until he passes out — then beat him over the head with a baseball bat, then roll him up in an old rug, and throw him off the cliff into the pound[ing] surf below!!!!!

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