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Bill Clinton Just Defended His–and Hillary’s–Record to Black Lives Matter Protesters

You may have noticed by now that while running for president Hillary Clinton sometimes has to gently distance herself from her husband’s policies, especially that crime bill she once supported so ardently as First Lady. (A First Lady who had involvement in policy matters.)

In South Carolina in February a Black Lives Matter protester interrupted Hillary Clinton at her own fundraiser to request an apology for the then-First Lady’s use of the term “superpredator” in 1996.

Clinton tried to play it cool and debated the woman a bit before letting her be dragged off by security to applause from the crowd. However, Clinton’s current platform on criminal justice reform is not something she would have been touting when standing by Bill’s side in the 1990s. Back then, tough on crime was in, and it was bipartisan. Now Clinton has to accept the changing times and the changing rhetoric. She does so because she is that kind of politician.

Her husband, it seems, is feeling rowdier and more willing to rhetorically brawl. He has nothing to lose except his wife’s presidency. At a Hillary Clinton rally in Philadelphia this afternoon protesters interrupted Bill to scold him for his policies on crime and welfare reform, as well as, again, Hillary Clinton’s use of the word superpredators.

Bill Clinton’s massive 1994 crime bill made good political sense at the time when everyone was terrified of “superpredators,” even though crime had peaked three years before. Now, however, that lens has shifted, and people have noticed both the war on drugs and overcriminalization have hurt a lot more people than they have helped.

As bad as Clinton’s defense of his clunky crime bill is, and how myopic his comments are (talking about the worst of the worst gang members and his wife’s vocabulary choice is not answering for a ginormous bill), it’s always amazing to see a moment of actual annoyance and passion from a politician.

Bill could have done the smile, the free speech platitude, and the curt nod to security as the protesters were booted. That isn’t usaully his style, however. And today he was feeling especially scrappy. So instead he decided to defend his legacy, and to try and secure his wife’s.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for Twitter: @lucystag.

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