Watching Clinton speak is still a thrill


Clinton’s ability to frame the arguments and the choice in a way that treats people as adults, explains the policy stakes accessibly and then downright inspires you, remains unmatched. This blend of Arkansas boy and Rhodes scholar turned political happy warrior is utterly unique. As we all know, he’s hardly perfect, but Clinton’s persistence, his seriousness and his sheer joy in the fight — the man’s passionate conviction that politics matters, that it’s a route to improve people’s lives and to elevate our collective destiny as a people — all this redeems him and makes him a treasure.

I was lucky enough to sit as a staffer against the wall in dozens of meetings Clinton held with his economic team in the cabinet room when I worked in his White House from 1993 to 1995. Back then I told people I couldn’t imagine seeing again in my lifetime someone who combined, as Clinton does, the highest imaginable level of policy thinker and political strategist in one person. It was an education then; it remains exciting to experience, even just watching him on television, now. My wife worked in his White House in those days, too — and when we saw him come out to his ’92 campaign theme song Wednesday night, and then drank down his speech, we felt the thrill all over again. He’s grayer, he’s hoarser, and his hands are a little (worryingly) shaky. But he’s still the one.

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