Former president Bill Clinton told the March on Washington audience Wednesday that Dr. Martin Luther King “did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock.”
“Oh, yes, we face terrible political gridlock now. Read a little history; it’s nothing new. Yes, there remain racial inequalities in employment, income, health, wealth, incarceration, and in the victims and perpetrators of violent crime. But we don’t face beatings, lynchings and shootings for our political beliefs anymore,” Clinton said in his commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech on Wednesday.
“And I would respectfully suggest that Martin Luther King did not live and die to hear his heirs whine about political gridlock,” he continued. “It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back.”
President Barack Obama has repeatedly criticized political gridlock in Congress, which he blames on Republican “hyper-partisanship.”
“There’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority,” Obama said in a July interview with The New York Times. “Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency. And I don’t think that’s a secret. But ultimately, I’m not concerned about their opinions — very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers.”
During a recent CNN interview with Chris Cuomo, the president also blamed talk radio host Rush Limbaugh for frightening moderate Republicans into opposing his agenda.
“Sometimes [Republicans] say to me privately, ‘I agree with you, but I’m worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the Tea Party back in my district,’ or, ‘I’m worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio.’ And so you got to understand, I’m — it’s really difficult,” Obama said.
Clinton and Obama have had a rocky relationship since the 2008 Democratic nomination. During the primary, Clinton scoffed that Obama was “the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen.”
Although the two publicly reconciled before that year’s general election and Obama appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the two have engaged in the occasional tug-o-war. Clinton took over a 2010 joint press conference he and Obama gave on tax cuts, fielding questions from reporters with ease after Obama left the podium, and said Hillary never wanted to be Obama’s 2012 vice presidential pick.