Bill Clinton, President for Eight Years, Still Not Totally Familiar With Filibuster

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks to the audience at the New York Historical Society November 8, 2011 in New York. Clinton was interviewed by his daughter Chelsea Clinton about his latest book, Back to Work. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
This was not Bill Clinton’s biggest mistake. Photo: DON EMMERT/2011 AFP

In his new book, Bill Clinton writes, as Politico puts it, that he was “mystified that Democrats last year would have agreed to Republican demands to extend the Bush era tax cuts without insisting on a simultaneous increase in the federal debt limit.” That Obama — what an amateur! But yesterday, Clinton recanted his criticism, telling an audience at the New York Historical Society, “I was wrong.”

Clinton — being interviewed by his daughter Chelsea Clinton — said he recently received a clarifying email from Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling, who also worked in the Clinton White House. Sperling, Clinton recounted, assured him that, “Oh, we tried.” The Democrats’ efforts, according to Clinton’s account of what Sperling told him, were thwarted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who threatened to filibuster the entire package if an increase in the debt limit was included. Clinton said he incorrectly believed that Senate rules would not have allowed a filibuster of this type of fiscal measure.

Usually this is something you would try to find out before penning a criticism of a fellow Democratic president. Bill, you’re worth a bazillion dollars — maybe spring for a research assistant next time. (Or just Google it.)

Bill Clinton Not Informed on Filibuster