Bill Clinton on shutdown: 'politics is not theology'

Bill Clinton on shutdown: 'politics is not theology'
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POSTED: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 9:09pm

UPDATED: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 9:10pm

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in Monday on the legislative impasse at the heart of the government shutdown, admonishing the "constant conflict" that has come to define American politics.

Speaking at a convention of the National Community Pharmacists Association in Orlando, Clinton said he liked the crowd because of the practicality of their profession.

"I worry that our politics has gotten impractical. That's about the nicest word I can think of," Clinton said.

Convictions are a good thing, Clinton said, as are political beliefs and support of one policy over the other.

The comments are some of the first Clinton has made on the spat over government funding, debt and Obamacare since before the partial shutdown took effect October 1.

In an interview with ABC at the end of September, Clinton took a hardline approach to the looming shutdown, calling on President Barack Obama to call a congressional Republican "bluff" on defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Obama could have stopped the shutdown, Clinton said at the time.

"But the price of - the current price of stopping it is higher than the price of letting the Republicans do it and taking their medicine," he said.

Clinton on Monday was far less confrontational and far more the elder statesmen who has seen and done it before, having been President during the last federal government shut downs in 1995 and 1996.

Instead of conflict, Clinton urged cooperation.

"Nobody's right all the time. And the more complex problems are the more you need people to work together," he said.

But politics is often a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers and especially in Washington, working together is often far less attractive than some notion of winning.

"Constant conflict is actually often good politics. Because the more you can inflame your supporters the more likely they are to show up at election day," Clinton said.

"And if they're more inflamed than the other side, even if the other side has more people agreeing with it, you'll win because your crowd will show up."

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