Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain: Bill Clinton spoke at a Harlem church on Sunday and used the killing of Eric Garner to rewrite history.
No disrespect to Bill Clinton, but before the former president starts using the murder of Eric Garner to help his wife get elected, he should remember that he was the architect of the very policing that led to the killing.
The 42nd president’s latest attempt to both burnish his White House legacy and start his wife’s is an appalling attempt to distance the couple from its role in the overly punitive 1994 crime bill that even supporters admit led to America’s current mass incarceration disaster.
Yes, there was Bubba telling Harlem churchgoers that Garner’s 2014 death at the hands of cops reflected a chasm between police and the community.
Left unsaid was this: Bill Clinton created that chasm!
His law did lead to reductions in crime and funded tens of thousands of more beat cops — but also had the anything-but-unintended consequence of locking up too many low-level criminals and unshackling too many overzealous, undertrained cops under the guise of saving communities from those non-violent, overwhelmingly minority perps.
And Hillary Clinton supported the bill every step of the way — until it was no longer politically expedient.
We know what’s happening here: Bernie Sanders is not only trouncing his Democratic rival across the country, but also has the support of Garner’s daughter.
So as she has done so many times before, Hillary trots out Bill as part of her campaign’s naked attempt to suggest it has softened its stance against the wholesale locking up of black men.
“We overdid it in putting too many young nonviolent offenders in jail for too long,” Bill Clinton said on Sunday in Harlem. “Let these people out of jail. Give them education, training.”
He can’t breathe: Eric Garner is killed by police in 2014. His death is now being cynically used by the Clinton campaign.
Hillary has other surrogates trying to rewrite history for her, too. David Yassky, a former City Councilman who helped write the 1994 crime bill when he was a staffer in D.C., penned his own second draft of history in the New York Times on Sunday.
But even he admitted that the 1994 law “inflicted grievous harm on African-American men and their families,” led to far too many “unconstitutional or inappropriate stops by police officers” and put an “unacceptable number of Americans are in prison” because of “broken windows” policing.
Like Clinton, Yassky wants us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, arguing instead that “what’s really at stake is the future of crime policy,” not the Clinton legacy. But he and Bill Clinton and other revisionists want it both ways: “Aren’t we great for reducing crime, even though we did something we shouldn’t have done — so let’s talk about undoing whatever parts will get Hillary Clinton elected.”
For her part, Clinton talks in platitudes about crime.
“We need to reform police practices so police don’t reach for their guns as the first choice,” she told the Daily News last week. “Some of the issues that need to be addressed result from what we did predominantly after 9/11, where there was a lot of concern about homeland security and a lot of military equipment was shared with and sent to local police departments, including small places.”
Perhaps, but stop-and-frisking innocent black men had nothing to do with 9/11 — and choking a cigarette seller to death with one’s bare hands had nothing to do with selling military surplus to Peoria.
In her stump speech, Clinton says she’ll “end the era of mass incarceration (because) our criminal justice system is out of balance.”
Guess who put it there.