Given the circumstances, no other three-word combination would have sufficed: “How Dare You?”
That was part of the response from former President Bill Clinton, when confronted by hecklers at a Hillary 2008 fundraising event in Minneapolis.
The story went like this: after making a late start with what turned out to be his approximately fifty-minute speech, Clinton was rudely interrupted by several hecklers in the audience who began shouting at him, and over him, and claiming that the terrorist attacks of 2001 were a “fraud.“
Even if you haven’t seen the video, it’s not difficult to imagine how this could have played-out. Our former President could have easily ignored the hecklers, or could have easily remained silent for a second or two, and allowed them to be cleared away by security officials - - and then could have continued right along with his remarks.
But instead, President Clinton chose to confront the hecklers head-on.
In the face of the “fraud” claim, Clinton confronted them directly. “A fraud?” No it wasn’t a fraud!” he shot back, as the crowd began to cheer him on. “I’ll be glad to talk to you” Clinton stated, trying to bring closure to the interruption, “if you shut up and let me talk.”
As he then attempted to continue with his address, another heckler shouted at President Clinton, claiming that the terrorist attacks had been an “inside job.”
“An inside job?” Clinton retorted, with indignation in his voice. “How dare you. How dare you! It was NOT an inside job!”
After these brief few moments, the hecklers were indeed escorted from the facility, and President Clinton continued with his speech. But by choosing to confront the malcontents, rather than ignoring them, Clinton accomplished something noteworthy.
In a matter of a few seconds, former President Clinton used a spontaneous moment with rude people in his midst to communicate to a fearful, skeptical American people. What was the message he conveyed? That the worst suspicions about our country and government are not to be tolerated, and certainly not to be believed.
To the skeptic who suggested that the terrorist attacks of 2001 were somehow phony, Clinton made it clear that there was nothing phony at all about “Nine-Eleven.”
To the selfish individual who thought nothing of interrupting an American President for his own personal agenda, Clinton said “shut up and let me talk.”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.