Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought their “An Evening with the Clintons” speaking tour to a close Sunday at the Park Theater in Las Vegas, touching on political polarization, Russian influence in the 2016 election and the Mueller report.
“Having this conversation is a conversation of a lifetime,” said former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst, the event’s moderator, during her introduction.
The crowd, sans one heckler touting conspiracy theory websites, was a solid blue group, and the Clintons’ points triggered applause throughout the night. President Donald Trump was frequently featured in the discussion, whether outright or implicitly. Las Vegas was the final stop in a 10-city tour for the conversation series.
Hillary Clinton said Attorney General William Barr, who released a summary of the Mueller report criticized by many as omitting context and key findings, had ceased acting as the country's chief law enforcement officer and had taken up the defense of the president.
“I think that we saw very clearly when Barr testified that he has assumed the role of the president’s defense attorney, not the attorney general for the entire country, and I think that is incredibly dangerous” Hillary Clinton said. “He said many things that I thought were untrue — legally untrue.”
She went further than that — and further than some Democratic lawmakers have gone — in saying the report showed the president obstructed justice.
“This president obstructed justice,” she said. “He tried to interfere with that investigation.”
Bill Clinton said the rise of quick, social communication over the internet has allowed fringe views to come to the surface more easily. He also brought up the lack of agreement on certain fundamental facts that people have started to confuse with opinions.
“A lot of you have young children. We can have a fascinating debate about what’s the best way to teach mathematics to young kids. Hillary and I, we’re interested in that because we’ve got young grand kids,” he said. “But we can’t have a conversation if we don’t agree that two and two is four. And you can say, ‘I’m sorry, that’s just my opinion,’ as if an opinion and a fact is the same thing.”
Hillary Clinton spoke along the same lines, saying that consumption of partisan media can create a disconnect between people of different political beliefs on key facts.
“If you’re getting your news primarily from channels that already agree with you, then you see the world differently than somebody who is getting his or her news from a channel that agrees with them already,” she said. “And it’s really difficult to have a conversation when people are already in their little bubbles.”
Bill Clinton agreed and called for a less vitriolic form of politics.
“Every day you’re mad, you belong to somebody else,” he said. “Every day you stop thinking, you’ve given your brain to somebody else.”