Bill Clinton just gave the best political speech of this century, thus far

Earlier today I wrote something about the contrast that was expected between Elizabeth Warren’s speech and Bill Clinton’s. That was certainly dead on. She gave one of those speeches full of resentments and blame, the kind that makes me dislike political parties so much.

And then Bill Clinton gave a speech that, while lifting the crowd in the arena to their feet, talked right on through them and to all of America, making the case for Barack Obama as no one has ever made it before, in a way that was a feel-good celebration of politics and democracy and this country and the things that make it great.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a political speech this good. Here are my thoughts, via Twitter, as it unfolded. You can see my enthusiasm build from the moment the former president started talking. The Tweets that follow, starting at 9:29 p.m., are mine, except where otherwise indicated:

  • The most warmly positive, uplifting speech I’ve heard tonight so far was from the sister from Nuns on the Bus. It was beatific…
  • Back in the day, when there were 3 networks covering gavel to gavel, I seem to recall less gab and more voting; less show, more action.
  • Wow, they weren’t kidding about this woman [Warren]. Who wrote her speech? Huey Long?
  • amhistorymuseum ‏@amhistorymuseum Abraham Lincoln was the first presidential candidate to distribute his campaign portrait all over the country. #campaigncollecting
  • … Which you wouldn’t automatically assume would have been to his advantage…
  • Billy’s doing his duty, actually talking about Obama rather than himself. How about that?
  • Good line about “cool on the inside”…
  • “Business and government working together… ” That’s a welcome contrast to Warren’s anti-biz, populist rant…
  • He’s giving the Third Way a hard sell, and doing it well…
  • They’re not quite sure what to make of Clinton’s lauding of Republicans for the good things they’ve done…
  • The speech Bill Clinton is giving fulfills the Democrats’ best hopes (and stills their worst loose-cannon fears). This is impressive.
  • Bill Clinton is reminding American what it’s like to be a Democrat, a winning Democrat, whose politics aren’t based in resentment…
  • Maybe President Obama should let Bill Clinton do the speech TOMMOROW night, too…
  • He may have lost weight, but he hasn’t lost his touch. The Comeback Kid still has it. Maybe some of it will rub off.
  • No, Bill! Don’t say “listen to me…” Shades of the Lewinsky denial. You’re on a roll! Don’t go off course…
  • When Bill Clinton’s talking, it almost sounds like it would be fun to be a Democrat…
  • Warren Bolton ‏@BoltonWarren If nothing else, this will have Obama juiced for tomorrow for sure. Can he deliver?
  • I don’t know, but Bill sure is teeing it up for him. The key to what he’s doing is the confidence, and the sheer joy.
  • He [Obama] just needs to come out cool on the outside, and burning inside for America…
  • Bill is the first person speaking positively to independents tonight — except for maybe Sister Simone…
  • I’ve never heard anyone make the case for Barack Obama this well.
  • The thing about Clinton is, he convinces you he really understands the wonkish details (mainly because he does), and is really INTO them.
  • “It takes some brass.” His second best line of the speech. The best was the “cool on the outside” thing…
  • He knows he’s got them. He can feel it. He can slow it down, or speed it up, and they’re right there with him every second…
  • John O’Connor ‏@johnroconnor I really only needed Clinton 101, not 201 and 315
  • This is the graduate seminar course. This is Bill Clinton under a yellow sun, with all his powers.
  • One of the many things Bill Clinton understands is the importance of talking to the millions of us who are NOT in that room.
  • Bill knows how to tear the Republicans a new one — or two — without making you think he hates them…
  • Warren Bolton ‏@BoltonWarren This is where the preacher, with the congregation firmly in his hands, says “I’ about to take my seat.” Then 15 minutes later …
  • Now he’s schoolin’ ’em on ‘rithmetic…
  • No, don’t shake your finger at us, Bill. It evokes bad stuff. Stick with the good stuff…
  • This speech is the most generous and selfless thing that Bill Clinton has done in his whole life.
  • Bet on America… we always come back… Man, he’s hitting every note, and hitting it just right…

It was amazing. He’s just that good. And I say that as the editor who presided over an editorial board that was tied as first in the country to call on him to resign after he admitted lying to us. But he was always really, really good at this, and I don’t just mean in ways that were good for him. It’s actually good for the country to hear a speech like this. So much of politics these days is depressing, dispiriting. We all needed a lift like this.

Some were complaining that the speech was too long. No. Bill Clinton has given some of the longest, most tedious speeches most of us can remember. But tonight he wasn’t indulging himself. Tonight he was giving.

45 thoughts on “Bill Clinton just gave the best political speech of this century, thus far

  1. Russell Dee

    As far as I can tell that speech by Clinton was the best political speech I’ve ever heard in my life. It was amazing. I would go so far as to say the greatness of that speech was of historical importance.

  2. bud

    Clinton’s speech was very good. He hit all the right points and described how the GOP has changed so radically from one of cooperation and putting country above party to where it is now with all the pure partisanship they throw out. How can a party that states its number 1 goal is to defeat Obama be taken seriously? But Clinton did get a bit wordy and probably should have cut his speech down by about 15 minutes. Still, I’d give Clinton a solid A. If the American people were listening this election should be over.

    As for Elizabeth Warren. I just love her to death. She is so intelligent and thoughful. Sure she threw some red meat to the base but seriously we do need a level playing field and that needed to be mentioned. And you certainly won’t hear that kind of truth from the GOP. Go get em girl. Not sure why she trails in the polls against the pandering Scott Brown. Hopeful her nice speech will turn that around.

  3. Maggie

    I agree with Matt Latimer, ex-Bush aide: “Here’s why I think Bill Clinton’s speech was successful. For all of his tortured arguments and wonky, ponderous asides, Bill Clinton made a substantive case. He dealt with facts and statistics. He made points and then explained why he made them. He had details. Boy, did he have details. In short, he did what almost no one at the Republican convention tried to do, what few conventions bother to do anymore. He treated the American people like thinking human beings.”

    I’m not sure it was better than candidate Obama’s speech on race, though. That one will go down in history.

  4. Brad

    It is a mystery to me how anyone can find both Bill Clinton’s and Elizabeth Warren’s speeches appealing. And in that mystery lies the reason why some people can be Democrats, and I cannot.

  5. bud

    Somebody had to say the things Warren said. Others spent tons of time on the various social issues; important as they are the real issue today is the economy. Do you not think the playing field should be level? Do you not think that the wealthy have a huge advantage? Perhaps suggesting the system was rigged overstated the situation a bit. Still, I find it astonishing that in 2012 income inequality is so extreme. Elizabeth Warren communicated the need to do something about that. That’s why I found her speech so moving and important.

  6. Phillip

    Here’s a fun parlor game, guess which quote from last night’s speeches is Bill Clinton’s and which is Elizabeth Warren’s?

    A.”I’m grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country.”

    B. “The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made…We think “we’re all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your own.””

    C. “I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better.”

    D. “The faction that now dominates the Republican Party…thinks government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.”

    E. “Small business owners… don’t resent that someone else makes more money. We’re Americans. We celebrate success.”

    F. “They want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids.”

    G. “[Obama] believes in a country where…anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family.”

    H. “[Romney] wants to…give the money back to the insurance companies…and force seniors to pay more for drugs…But it gets worse. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming decade. Of course, that will hurt poor kids…I don’t know how those families are going to deal with it. We can’t let it happen.”

    I. “That’s how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity.”

    J. “You have to decide what kind of country you want to live in. If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket.”

  7. bud

    For a bit of contrast, let’s go back a week to the foolishness of the GOP in Tamapa. They should have called that the ME convention given that most of the speakers spent more time reciting their autobiography than they did promoting their party’s candidates for POTUS and VP. Then we had the real crazies. First there was Paul Ryan whose speech was a marathon of mendacity. And it seemed as long as the 4+ hours it took him to run the 26.2 miles 20 years ago.

    Then there was the weirdest moment in convention history – Clinton Eastwoods conversation with a chair. And finally we had Romney. Did he really say anything worth remembering? I guess he did put a human spin on his otherwise robot personna. Still, not much of speech to kick off the fall campaign season. Let’s see what the POTUS does tonight before we can declare the Dems the convention victors. But the bar is set pretty low.

  8. Brad

    Phillip, I’ll give it a shot, although you’ve picked quite a few items that either could have said. I didn’t say there were no commonalities. I could probably compile a list of statements that could have been in either Ms. Warren’s or Mitt Romney’s speech. There are certain civic pieties everyone gives a nod to.

    The contrast between Warren and Clinton did not lie in every word they said; it lay in the general thrust and tone. It lay in the most memorable things they said, and the degree to which those things exemplified what they were trying to say.

    But to oblige you, here goes:

    A.Could have been either, but I’m going to say Warren. It would have been a logical thing to say just before bemoaning how those oligarchs have taken away the America we loved.

    B. Clinton. In keeping with his “we’re all in this together” theme.

    C. I don’t know, but maybe Warren.

    D. Clinton. He made that point, whether those were the words or not.

    E. Warren. It was one of those “now don’t get me wrong” attempts to deflect criticism from her overall thrust.

    F. Clinton. I say that because of “pesky” and “poor kids.”

    G. Don’t know, but I’ll guess Warren.

    H. Clinton. I remember it.

    I. Warren, although Clinton said similar things different ways.

    J. Definitely Clinton. It was toward the end.

    How did I do?

  9. Brad

    And in response to Bud’s allowing that “Perhaps suggesting the system was rigged overstated the situation a bit…”

    Indeed it did. Although she didn’t “suggest.” She asserted it was so, quite positively. I almost pictured the little Monopoly guy with his tux and tails and top hat.

  10. bud

    One more thing about Clinton’s speech, even with all those statistics and claims it was largely accurate. USA Today reports:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former president Bill Clinton’s stem-winding nomination speech was a fact-checker’s nightmare: lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about.

    Republicans will find plenty of Clinton’s scorching opinions objectionable. But with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out.

    By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

  11. Phillip

    100%, Brad. Obviously I stacked the deck by picking Bill’s more “attacking” points and Warren’s more positive, non-Huey-Long-sounding passages, but my larger point is that given the conditions Romney/Ryan wish to create, there really is not that much difference between what Clinton and Warren believe. An easier way to summarize their differences is that Warren emphasized the negatives of the radical-right’s agenda while Clinton emphasized the positives of sticking with Obama, which is what you want to do when renominating the guy. (And he’s a natural politician, while she is not.)

    And is the image of a “rigged game” really THAT off the mark? Study after study has been released in recent months and years giving clear evidence that A) the extremes of wealth and poverty are growing at both ends; and B) class mobility is rapidly vanishing in this country. If the increasing inability of people from poorer classes to rise to the middle class and from the middle class to the upper class isn’t evidence of the game being increasingly “rigged,” then I don’t know what is. We shy away from speaking blunt truths about the health of our democracy at our national peril.

  12. Brad

    I sort of thought I’d gotten them all, but I had my fingers crossed. And I promise, I didn’t look up a single one of them. Of course, you almost threw me by alternating them perfectly. That made me suspicious; I doubted you would have made it that easy. But I still went with what I thought were the right answers.

    And yes, the idea that America is “rigged” is very much off the mark.

    I get really offended by both simplistic views of the world: The GOP notion that good people who try hard succeed (so if you’re not succeeding, you’re a worthless leech), and the Democratic notion that all the good people are victims of those horrible people out there (picture white men dressed like the Monopoly guy) who are holding them down, and are helpless to enjoy the good things of life with the party’s wonderful programs.

    When the party people on either side talk like that, they play into the worst stereotypes that the opposite side paints. They become offensive caricatures.

    What Bill Clinton does when he’s at his best (and last night was the performance of his life) is say look, folks, we’re all in this together. So let’s WORK together to do the commonsense things that experience has shown us work, to the benefit of all of us. And let’s not waste time on the nonsense that gets in the way of doing that.

    In other words, he talks like a spokesman for the UnParty.

  13. bud

    Phillip, while I found the tenor and scope of Elizabeth Warren’s speech both important to the thrust of the Democrats efforts against the GOP and inspiring I found the term “rigged game” a bit off the mark. Sure the Romney kids have a much easier time going to college than mine but “rigged” makes it sound impossible for someone of modest means to succeed. Maybe I’m splitting hairs but I would have used a different term.

    To illustrate the difficulty of college kids from modest means parents my daughter cannot fully devote her attention to studies but is instead distracted by the stress of worrying about money. That in itself makes it more difficult than a Romney or for that matter an Obama child to do well in college. Fortunately I think she’s up to the task.

  14. Brad

    To not have to think about money — there’s a consummation devoutly to be wished!

    I HATE thinking about it, in any way, shape or form. Which is why I’m not good at acquiring it. There’s the maddening contradiction — people who love thinking about money tend to make a lot of it, so they don’t have to think about it anymore. Those who hate thinking about it don’t make much, and therefore have to keep thinking about it…

  15. Brad

    No, no, no, Burl. I didn’t hear her talking tough, did you?

    I think that’s one of the great canards of feminism. When a woman is criticized for the way she speaks, it is said a man would be allowed to speak that way. And whenever someone says that, I think yep, he’d be allowed to speak that way, just as the woman is. But I’d think he was at least off-putting, and at worst a total jerk, if he did.

    We hear that nonsense a lot with reference to the “b” word. If you’ll excuse my language, the only difference is that when a man speaks the way a woman does when she’s called a bitch, then we look upon him as an asshole. That’s been true in every case in which I’ve heard that asserted.

  16. Juan Caruso

    If undecided voters agree most of the kudos accorded above to Clinton (et al) are credible, that could advance Obama’s chances.

    If, following the disappointing spectacles of unpopular “plank corrections” and ‘weather-ordained’ venue change (ridiculed by today’s Arial cartoon) even more folks are going to be wondering how such a dysfunctional bunch could hope to manage the massive Obamacare (DNC approved name) program.

    I gave up on Obama when his January 2010 State of the Union message failed to clarify a national vision acceptable to the majority of Americans. Instead, we got a very lengthy, Carter-like malaise speech.

    Giving Obama the benefit of the doubt once more, he had better lay out a vision most Americans can accept this time.

  17. bud

    Are you better off today than you were four years ago. Hell Yeah!! This is the ultimate hanging curve ball over the middle of the plate. And yet the Democrats somehow manage to whif it. Here are 10 headlines from September 2008:

    STOCK SHOCK FELT ROUND THE WORLD. Gets ‘nasty’ as Lehman tanks, Merrill vanishes, AIG wobbles [New York Daily News, September 16, 2008]

    Depression Coming? Boil Some Beans; Ladies Who Quilt Give Tips On Surviving Tough Times [Albuquerque Journal, September 21, 2008]

    One day on the brink On Wednesday, it seemed U.S. economy might collapse [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 21, 2008]

    ‘Great Depression’ closer than U.S. admits, report finds [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 27, 2008]

    Will Bush become the new Hoover? [Politico, September 19, 2008]

    Developers bend under housing meltdown [Colorado Springs Gazette, September 27, 2008]

    Depression seen possible [Florida News-Press, September 27, 2008]

    Wall Street Meltdown Continues [CNN, September 17, 2008]

    Is It Really the Next ‘Great Depression’? [NPR, September 19, 2008]

    Behind Closed Doors, Warnings of Calamity [The New York Times, September 20, 2008]

  18. Brad

    I wouldn’t be those convention organizers for anything. I just checked my Weather Channel app. There’s a 30-40 percent chance of thunderstorms today and into the evening. But then it drops to zero percent, precisely at 10 p.m. Which of course was unknowable yesterday when the decision was made(and could be wrong today).

    Expect to see live video images of a rain-free, empty stadium broadcast just before the president starts his speech.

  19. bud

    Juan, the whole “vision” thing is highly overrated. Presidents inevitably must deal with events as they come. LBJ did give us the great society but ultimately his “vision” was blurred by Vietnam. Bush Jr. had visions of sugerplumbs (ie tax cuts, SS reform) dancing in head until 19 hijackers with box cutters swept those fantasies away. Bush got his tax cuts but it’s not what he’ll be remembered for. SS reform bombed.

  20. Bart

    Before the swooning over Slick Willie’s speech stops, you might want to check a story on Yahoo! news that actually fact-checked many of the claims in Clinton’s speech.

    Just to be sure everyone understands, the fact-checking was done by the AP, Matt Arruzo and Tom Raum. AP is most certainly not Fox, Rush, Hannity, or close to any resemblance of a right wing news organization.

    1. Gridlock, cooperation, bipartisanship:

    THE FACTS: From Clinton’s speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.

    One of the more high-profile examples of a deal that fell apart was the outline of a proposed “grand bargain” budget agreement between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011.

    The deal would have required compromise from both sides. It slashed domestic spending more than most Democrats wanted and would have raised some taxes, which most Republicans oppose.

    Boehner couldn’t sell the plan to tea party factions in the House or to other conservative activists. And Obama found himself accused of going too far by some Democratic leaders. The deal died before it ever even came up for a vote.

    In another instance, Obama appointed a bipartisan group, known as the Simpsons-Bowles Commission, to recommend ways to fix major fiscal problems like Social Security and Medicare. The commission issued its recommendations but fell three votes short of formally endorsing them. And Obama mostly walked away from the report. He later incorporated some of the less contentious proposals from the report into legislation he supported.

    But that ensured the tough compromises would not get made.

    The problem with compromising in Washington is that there are few true moderates left in either party. The notion that Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of compromise is inaccurate.

    2. Healthcare cost:

    CLINTON: Clinton suggested that Obama’s health care law is keeping health care costs in check.

    “For the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4 percent, for the first time in 50 years. So, are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.”

    THE FACTS: That’s wishful thinking at best. The nation’s total health care tab has been growing at historically low rates, but most experts attribute that to continued uncertainty over the economy, not to Obama’s health care law.

    Two of the main cost-control measures in Obama’s law — a powerful board to keep Medicare spending manageable and a tax on high cost health insurance plans — have yet to take effect.

    Under the law, Medicare has launched dozens of experiments aimed at providing quality care for lower cost, but most of those are still in their infancy and measurable results have yet to be obtained. Former administration officials say the law deserves at least part of the credit for easing health care inflation, but even they acknowledge that the lackluster economy is playing a major role.

    Meanwhile, people insured through the workplace by and large have seen little relief from rising premiums and cost shifts. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for job-based family coverage rose from $13,375 in 2009 when Obama took office to $15,073 in 2011. During the same period, the average share paid by employees rose from $3,515 to $4,129.

    While those premium increases cannot be blamed on the health care law — as Republicans try to do — neither can Democrats claim credit for breaking the back of health care inflation.

    3. The economy:

    CLINTON: “I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. … I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.”

    THE FACTS: Clinton is counting on voters to recall the 1990s wistfully and to cast a vote for Obama in hopes of replicating those days in a second term. But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term and the role his policies played in the setting the stage for the historic financial meltdown of 2008.

    While the economy and markets experienced a record expansion for most of the rest of Clinton’s two-term presidency, at the start of 2000, there were troubling signs. Then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned in February 2000 that “we are entering a period of considerable turbulence in financial markets.”

    Sure enough, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average both peaked in March 2000. The bursting of the high-tech bubble dragged down the economy and markets through the rest of the year. From September 2000 to January 2001 when Clinton left office, the Nasdaq dropped 46 percent. Even now, in 2012, the Nasdaq has not returned to its 2000 peak. By March 2001, the economy toppled into recession.

    Also, as president, Clinton supported the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law dating back to the Great Depression that separated banking from high-risk financial speculation. Robert Rubin, who had been Clinton’s first treasury secretary, helped broker the final deal on Capitol Hill that enabled the repeal legislation to pass. Some financial historians say the repeal of the law paved the way for banks to invest in risky investments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations that played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown.

    3. Fact Checking:

    CLINTON: “Their campaign pollster said, ‘We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.’ Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself — I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.”

    THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were “legally accurate” but also allowed that he “misled people, including even my wife.”

    I think the most telling of all the fact-checked elements of his speech is the one about the economy and how everyone on the left is trying to lay it at the feet of GWB. No, it should be laid at the feet of all politicians who participated in government over the past 50 years because that is how long it has taken to tear it down to the point it is now. The last vestige of stability was taken away when Glass-Steagal was repealed with an almost 100% bipartisan effort. And, Bill Clinton signed Gramm-Bliley-Leach into law.

    Clinton can deliver a great speech and he is absolutely convincing because he has the one element of delivery Obama does not possess. Clinton believes every word he is saying and it shows. Now, that is a good, no, great speaker/communicator.

  21. Brad

    Am I better off than I was four years ago? Hell, no. But I’ve always thought that was a stupid question, that in no way bears on how I vote for president. I thought it a stupid and obnoxious question when Reagan asked it in 1980, and I think the same today.

    Of course, that’s because I find the idea of people voting on the basis of how they have personally benefited, or not, offensive. Anyone who doesn’t vote on the basis of a carefully discerned sense of the greater good of the country as a whole (to the best of the individual’s ability to see that) should have his franchise taken away.

  22. Brad

    One’s own situation is useful in making a worthwhile decision only to the extent that it can be a reliable microcosm of the overall situation. Of course, that’s a calculation fraught with potential for misperception.

  23. bud

    While I don’t do so exclusively I certainly take into account how it affects the health and welfare of me and my family and friends. If my income would be enhanced a small amount at the expense of the environment, people in other countries or even the welfare of animals I would consider the impact, certainly. Plus there’s the overriding issues of freedom and justice. But to completely discount one’s own welfare as a voting consideration is absurd.

  24. boyd summers

    Clinton is the master at building a case. Electric last night on the floor. It s been a celebration up here all week.

    Striking contrast between what we saw in Tampa last week. GOP does not appear to like like their candidate and appear motivated by hatred of POTUS.
    Dems love the Obama’s and Clinton made the case the best I have ever heard for a second term.

  25. bud

    The notion that Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of compromise is inaccurate.

    Maybe not 100% the fault of Republicans but certainly a good 90+% of the fault. Keep in mind many of the proposals by Obama had once been Republican ideas. That was their approach to healthcare reform during the Hillarycare debate. Now it’s regarded as toxic.

  26. Juan Caruso

    Juan, the whole “vision” thing is highly overrated. Presidents inevitably must deal with events as they come. – Bud

    Your dismissal of Obama’s vision may come back to haunt you, Bud. Voters (astute and pedestrian) want to adopt shared visions of how presidents are expected to deal with “events as they come”.

    Also, I specified “a national vision acceptable to the majority of Americans”. A hidden agenda clear to a select few will NOT do.

    Interestingly, you expressed no objection to the “malaise” Obama included in 2010. Will he repeat that error tonight?

  27. bud

    But Clinton leaves out the abrupt downward turn the economy took near the end of his own second term …

    George W. Bush inherited a 4% unemployment rate, low inflation and a budget surplus. No recession until March 2001 and even that would have likely been a mild one without the clumsy economic policies of Bush and the events of 9-11, in large part the result of Bush incompetence.

  28. Brad

    Ummm… something just occurred to me this afternoon.

    You know how so many Democrats were worried about what Bill Clinton was going to do last night, given his iffy history with Obama? Especially since he didn’t let anyone see his remarks ahead of time? There were concerns he might hurt more than help.

    And then, he does such an awesome job, and everyone’s so impressed, and Dems are so relieved. As I said, “I’ve never heard anyone make the case for Barack Obama this well.”

    Which includes, as someone said in response to that on Twitter last night, Barack Obama himself…

    So… did Bill Clinton just set the bar so high that Obama is bound to look bad by comparison? What a way to “help” him… No one could reproach Bill for doing his very best, could they?

    I imagine the president is feeling the pressure right about now, cool as he is…

  29. Brad

    Oh, and Bud and Juan…

    I very much appreciate what Bud said, because as I’ve observed politics over the years, I have come more and more to wish that politicians would not make ANY promises or set out any plans. Just sell us on them and their abilities — stressing their past accomplishments if they have any, letting their record be a guide to how well they’ll deal with challenges in office, which are generally not foreseeable.

    People got all over George H.W. Bush about what he dismissed as “the vision thing.” And he didn’t really have one. But he did a good job in office, as I generally had expected him to do. He was a professional, with about as good a resume as you could have in applying for the job of POTUS. He had the misfortune of following (and working under) an ideological visionary, and to the extent people came to expect that in a prospective president, that worked against Bush. But he was simply a guy who was going to do a decent job with whatever came up.

    Whenever I think about running for office, I always balk at the point of trying think of what I would RUN ON. Oh, there’s no shortage of proposals I can get behind — you could put together an extremely broad and varied agenda from what I’ve written over the years. Occasionally, I’ve put them together into prioritized lists.

    But if I were a candidate, I’d hesitate to run on any of them, in terms of making promises that THIS is what I’d do. Because I think the best thing for a prospective officeholder to do is to be open to the actual challenges that will emerge, and be ready and able to meet them, without tying one’s hands beforehand by saying “I’ll definitely do this or that.”

    When I’m thinking about this, the Fremen saying from “Dune” comes to mind: “Be prepared to appreciate what you meet.”

    But I don’t think that’s a particularly compelling campaign platform: “Oh, Brad Warthen? You mean, the geek who goes around quoting science fiction?”

    I’d come across like this guy

  30. bud

    So… did Bill Clinton just set the bar so high that Obama is bound to look bad by comparison?

    Sometimes you overthink things. This particular example is off the chart. Obama is a fantastic speaker and will do great. He will probably be too “partisan” for Brad’s taste but really doesn’t he have to throw some red meat to the crowd. Personally I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t. Just make sure I get a juicy ribeye.

  31. Juan Caruso

    I have come more and more to wish that politicians would not make ANY promises or set out any plans.- Brad W

    Consider: What remains for Obama to tell us about his “abilities — stressing his past accomplishments or his record of dealing with challenges in office? I submit, he will have nothing.

    Fair enough, Brad. That seems to leave Barack with cheer leading, demonizing (like we’ve heard all week), or another malaise speech. If 25% of voters are undecided as you seem to believe, a malaise speech could kill his presidency (even if he uses updated street jargon instead of the famous Carter word).

  32. tavis micklash

    I’m one of those guys that look back to the 90s fondly.

    A vote for Obama now is in no way a vote for Clinton though.

    Listening to a little talk radio ,only about 20 minutes, I heard that Bill made a better case for Hillary last night than Obama and good luck with following that speech.

  33. tavis micklash

    E. “Small business owners… don’t resent that someone else makes more money. We’re Americans. We celebrate success.”

    Sounds very similar to something the First Lady said. Councilwoman Devine pointed that out to me yesterday.

  34. Bart

    “So what plans, exactly, did the GOP lay out at their convention? None.”…Kathryn

    Can’t disagree with you at all. Why? Because I didn’t waste my time watching the RNC nor have I watched the DNC. If you haven’e made up your mind by now, a rah! rah! feel good gathering won’t make a difference.

    Both parties could have used the money to help those in need instead of spending millions on another boring and useless waste of air time.

  35. Ralph Hightower

    I will have listen to Clinton’s speech later to see if it compares to Kennedy’s speech to Rice University.

    I will withhold judgement on Clinton’s speech until then.

  36. Steven Davis II

    Wow, should anyone be surprised that the Democrats here are wetting themselves over Cigar Bill’s speech and still blasting any speech at the RNC? Did I see either, nope… if I want to go to a pep rally I’ll go to a high school on a Friday afternoon.

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