A bit late posting today as I've been traveling, but wanted to weigh in on Bill Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic convention. As cynical as I am about politics, there's always a part of me that respects the all time greats - the politicians with a God given talent to connect with voters and convey their ideas with clarity and vision. Bill Clinton is one of those politicians, and last night, he put on a great, great performance. Clinton's folksy charm literally oozed onto the audience and they lapped it up.
Clinton reeled off facts about the economy, facts about jobs, facts about healthcare, facts about the military, facts about infrastructure, facts about Republican math and facts about Democratic math, weaving a compelling narrative about the choice voters face this election. Clinton laid out the differences between the two party's philosophies and accused the Republicans of going completely off the rails with their militancy. He presented Obama as a unifying President and the only serious candidate this election. Clinton paid homage to Obama's consistent attempts to reach out to Republicans and slammed the Republicans for doing the opposite.
Clinton summed up the Republican argument for a Romney President as follows: "We left him a total mess, he hadn't cleaned it up fast enough so fire him and put us back in."
Clinton retold the history of Obama's Presidency thus far, arguing that he faced one of the worst economic situations any President has in history and has responsibly tried to get the country back on track. While Clinton admitted that the country was far from OK, the evidence was clear that the country was in better shape now than when he first got into office.
Clinton's defense of Obamacare was also compelling - he praised the President for passing a comprehensive health care package, detailing the enormous benefits people would gain from it, then ripped into Republicans for their promise to repeal it once in power. The former President talked about the real world effects of destroying the progress on healthcare and argued that it would have disastrous effects on the poor.
It was of course a political speech - one sided and inherently dishonest as all political speeches are, but it contained a very basic truth - that it would be madness to vote out a President who still believes in the power of government to do good and elect a business man whose sole aim would be to destroy what is left of government.
The choice to have Clinton speak so prominently was a wise decision by the Democrats. While Obama is a better speaker than Clinton, he doesn't quite have Clinton's ability to connect with regular people - and that is exactly what the President needs right now. The entire Democratic convention has stood in stark contrast to the Republican one. The Republicans presented a cold, soulless vision for America based on individualism and fantasy economics, while the Democrats have presented a inclusive vision for the country based on sound math and good government. "We simply cannot afford to give the reins of power to someone who will double down on trickle down," said Clinton.
And therein lies the argument.