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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 1, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Clocking in at nearly two hours, former President Bill Clinton gave the first in his new lecture series at Georgetown University yesterday in a speech that meandered from terrorism to public service.

Clinton said this century “requires every thoughtful person to try to do some public good.”

“Most people get in real trouble and abuse power when they forget that the purpose of their power is not to impose their will on others but to let other people be empowered to live their own lives better,” he said. “Or as I always say, have better stories.”

He spent much of his time sharing stories of poor relatives growing up in Arkansas and said “it’s a mystery” how he ever became president.

“When I was born in Arkansas at the end of World War II, I think our per capita income was 56 percent of the national average. Only Mississippi was poorer. No one in my direct family had ever been to college,” Clinton said.

“And I’m not trying to romanticize poverty,” he said after singing tales of his uncles and grandparents. “I like everybody who gets rid of it. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get you not to belittle people who know less than you do, have less than you do, are less credentialed than you are.”

“…Don’t ever romanticize poverty. It’s way overrated. But don’t denigrate the people who live in it because there is a mountain of evidence that there is a lot of dignity there. And I saw those stories when I was young.”

Clinton also related a tale of a Catholic priest asking him in college if he’d ever thought about becoming a Jesuit.

“And I asked him if I had to become a Catholic first,” he said. “And he said ‘what do you mean?’ I said, ‘I’m a southern Baptist. I’m not eligible.’ He said ‘I read your test papers. It’s not possible. You think like a Catholic.’”

“But nonetheless I was who I was and I didn’t become a priest. And I think life worked out pretty well for both of us,” Clinton added.

The former president claimed there’s just “one remaining bigotry in America.”

“I mean, the people are organizing massive living patterns in this country around being with somebody that agrees with them,” Clinton said. “…So do I think it matters what purposes there are to your politics and what policies you adopt and how you conduct politics in or out of the public arena? Oh, I think all that matters. But you have a much better chance of living both a successful and a rewarding life of service if you begin by finding something to learn from everybody you run into. If you begin by believing there is a certain inherent dignity to people who will never be on television, never be in a newspaper article, are just a statistic to most people who talk about politics.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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It's a "mystery" how he ever became president? Oh, please. In the second grade, he would go around the schoolyard to kids he didn't know, stick out his hand and say, "Hi, I'm Bill Clinton." What kind of second grader does that?! His teacher claims that on observing this behaviour, she knew he'd be president someday.

He was a born politician and had a natural talent for it. And Arkansas, as a very small pond, was the perfect place for a super-sized frog. Had he been born in a more populous state where there was a lot more competition for things like Boy's State and Rhodes, chances are we might never have heard of him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A priest!! Can you imagine! Not a single female parishioner would have been safe!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I didn't know the cult of Dionysius was still around. Or maybe he was considering the Elogabulus route? Seems to be working for Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can just picture it now.

Father Clinton - "I did not have sexual relations with that altar boy"

I've had the chance to meet a number of Rhodes Scholars like William Jefferson Clinton. My advice? Count your fingers after shaking their hand.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly wouldn't object if the current Democrat in the WH were a bit more Clintonesque. His narcissism drove me up the wall but it came from insecurity, something most of us can relate to, and made him very human. He was a political pragmatist, flexible, and the country was better for it. Obama is so convinced of his own god-like powers that he is rigid, without soul or creativity or compassion. He is a nightmare of self-adoration and his hubris is going to destroy all of us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Given the bad news of late relative to the Catholic Church, he might well have fit in perfectly with his own beliefs being as corrupt as they are. (No offense intended to honest, straightforward Catholics).

Nothing like a former politician praising himself for his honest ways and benevolent attitude toward life and others. He hasn't changed a bit over the years; he is still shoveling the sh*t into his neighbor's yard.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wow. Imagine the kind of bad press the Catholic Church would be getting if that happened...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Clinton celibate?

Bwahahahahahahahahaha!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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