Former President Clinton weighed in Friday on the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, suggesting that Congress and the White House can still “get things done” and reflecting on his experience working with a divided government during a period of intense partisanship.
“The retrospective memory of my six years tends to be one that is airbrushed,” Clinton told the crowd at USC. “For this time, what you gotta have is an agenda and get things done. There’s going to be a Kabuki dance for the first few months, but we’ll see what they’re going to do.”
Clinton said the election, in which Republicans gained control of the Senate and expanded their grip on the House, “completed the process that was started in 2010.” But he suggested that such a scenario was not so out of the ordinary given that Republicans seized control of Congress in 1994 while he was president.
Clinton said that one big showdown that will take place will be seeing if Congress defunds the Affordable Care Act. He added that he hoped they would continue the bipartisan support of funding basic research.
At the event, which was aimed at USC honor students and faculty, Clinton lauded the growth in technology and innovation that is reshaping the entertainment industry and economy. Clinton said the growing interdependence of countries is at the root of many of these trends.
Popular on Variety
“You have to have an idea of what you want the world to look like,” he said.
He pointed to the innovation taking place in Orlando, Fla., known mostly as the home of Disney and Universal theme parks, to describe the intersection of the technology with other sectors of the economy.
“Most people who don’t live there think of Orlando as the home of Disneyworld,” Clinton said. “But the Defense Department and NASA spend $5 billion a year on computer simulation. It’s obvious that they need improvement in simulation to keep theme park membership. It’s also way safer and cheap to teach young military personnel how to operate or fly a tank or airplane on a simulator than the real deal. There’s just this explosive creative environment down there.”
Clinton also touched on the influence of social media in connecting people in new and groundbreaking ways.
“The Internet has done a lot of good,” he said. “It allows an 8-year-olds to get on the Internet and find out what I had to go to college to learn about.”
Since leaving office, Clinton has dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts overseas, particularly focused on improving global health and wellness and increasing opportunities for women and children through the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
The former president noted that there’s been a lot of headlines about turmoil around the globe, such as the Isis terror campaign and the deadly Ebola outbreak, but he asserted that this obscures the progress on the geopolitical front. “Though every headline in the last few months seems negative, there have been a lot of positive trend lines,” he said.
He cited the Millennium Goals set forth by the United Nations, which will expire next year, as an example, saying some of them will be reached.
“We are in the best shape of any big country in the world in the next 20 years,” he said. “No big country that is running this well is as young as we are, as diverse as we are or as technological as we are. In the next 20 years, there will be bad days, there will be bad headlines, but you can keep the trend lines positive.”
Later on Friday, Clinton was scheduled to attend an event on the Paramount lot to raise money for his foundation, with Jessica Alba and musical act Parachute on the bill.