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Remember when the President could talk?

By Brian | August 28, 2008 | Share on Facebook

From my post yesterday:

President Bill Clinton speaks tonight and is a) looking for something to talk about and b) quite adept at drilling down into policy points.  His job tonight, in my opinion, is to provide the “why” to Hillary’s “what.”  If he succeeds in that regard, then Obama can accept the nomination and segue right into a policy-rich speech that tells America what he’d do as president, in more specific terms than “hope” and “change.”

Well, it’s good to see that the Clintons read my blog.  Bill Clinton did exactly what I described – he went into significant detail about why Obama is stronger on the key issues of the day than McCain.  He used terms like “torture” and “foreclosure.”  And he did it in a way that only he’s capable of – without talking down to the people.  Definitely playing to his strengths.  Also, he had the best line of the convention so far, IMHO:

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

In a less media saturated world, I think that line is right up there with “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  But maybe that’s just me…

Clinton also did the requisite “cheerleading” that the punditry demanded of him – unequivocally endorsing Obama and reinforcing Hillary’s admonishment to her (their?!?) supporters to vote for him.  So he can check that box, I guess.

I only had two problems with the speech.  First, he tried to mitigate concerns over Obama’s experience by pointing out that Republicans called him (Clinton) too young and inexperienced when he was elected in 1992.  A very clever technique, but I think trying to paint Obama as experienced enough to be President (especially against John McCain) is a losing battle.  They’re better off talking about Obama’s strengths in areas like problem solving and critical thinking, and emphasizing the strength of the people that Obama is surrounding himself with (like Joe Biden, for instance, who continued Clinton’s detailed assessment of the policy issues that Obama will be stressing – a perfect setup for tonight’s mega-speech at Mile High Stadium Invesco Field, if you ask me).

My other problem was actually not with the speech, but with the introduction.  Representative Kendrick Meek of Florida said this:

President Clinton presided over the longest economic expansion in American history.  That meant more than 22 million new jobs; higher incomes at every income level; the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years; the lowest poverty rate in 20 years; the lowest crime rate in 26 years; the smallest welfare rolls in 32 years and the highest home-ownership in history.

This is a summary of the introduction Bill Clinton received when he gave his “farewell” speech at the 2000 convention.  It stuck in my mind because that “highest home-ownership in history” claim is precisely what we’re struggling with right now – many of those people bought homes they couldn’t afford, using sub-prime mortgages they never should have signed up for.  I’m surprised no one has tried to lay this crisis at Bill Clinton’s feet in recent months, and very surprised that Rep. Meek chose to repeat it in last night’s introduction.


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