wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

The Leaderboard

Most Read: National

From the Blogosphere

Jena McGregor

Jena McGregor

Staff writer Jena McGregor teases out the leadership issues in the day’s news.

Tom Fox

Tom Fox

Guest contributor Tom Fox, of the Partnership for Public Service, writes weekly about issues in the federal workplace.

Lillian Cunningham

Lillian Cunningham

Lillian Cunningham is the editor of On Leadership and writes features for the section.

Post Leadership
Posted at 10:18 AM ET, 07/30/2012

Why Bill Clinton is the best choice to nominate Obama at the convention


Bill Clinton will be the one to formally nominate President Obama at the Democratic National Convention this fall. (Pete Souza - THE WHITE HOUSE)
The news that Bill Clinton will be placing President Obama’s name in nomination at the Democratic National Convention in early September may not be traditional practice. In recent elections, it has apparently been the vice president or running mate who has that honor, giving a prime-time speech to formally introduce the candidate as the party’s representative.

Much will be made about what this says about the relationship between Clinton and Obama. Clinton supported Obama in a speech at the last convention, coming on the heels of the bitter campaign race between his wife and Obama. And after a series of gaffes in recent months that had the former president walking back his remarks and even apologizing for them, Clinton’s featured role is sure to invite more scrutiny.

Is this a sign the president is desperate to have the most high-wattage Democrat at the convention in order to draw more attention to his campaign? Or is it an olive branch to his party’s most popular figure to show there are no hard feelings, and demonstrate to the public that the Democrats stand united?

It may be a little bit of both. Most of all, however, I’d guess it’s a recognition that there is no one else who can properly articulate what it’s been like to be in Obama’s shoes the past four years. Being the chief executive of anything—much less of the United States of America—is a singularly lonely act, something that is difficult to explain and even harder for people to understand. Doing so amid the worst economic recession in decades and against the most hyper-partisan backdrop in Washington makes it even more so.

Therefore, if you’re president and you’re looking for the person who can make the best case for your candidacy, it’s the person who really knows what it’s like to be commander in chief. Biden may be able to share up-close-and-personal details about the job Obama’s done, but he’s never held the actual position himself. However loyal Biden may be, he hasn’t experienced the weight of making the final tough decisions the president of the United States must make. That experience is Obama’s and his predecessors’ alone.

Sure, Clinton loves being in the spotlight, and inviting him to make such a critical speech should help put to rest any worries about ongoing tension between the two men. And yes, Clinton’s star power is unmatched in the Democratic party and, to some extent, with independent voters. Both of those factors surely played a role in picking him for the primetime speech, but it’s shortsighted to see that as it. Rather, I’d guess Clinton’s unique perspective as the party’s only living two-term president, and the authority and credibility that brings to defending the job Obama’s done, is the biggest reason it makes sense he got the nod.

More from On Leadership:

She the People | Bill Clinton sets stage for Obama

How to completely destroy an employee’s work life

Amid Chick-fil-A uproar, Amazon CEO takes a stand

Like On Leadership? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

@post_lead | @jenamcgregor | @lily_cunningham

By  |  10:18 AM ET, 07/30/2012

Tags:  leadership, bill clinton, president obama, election 2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company