James Carville calls Bill Clinton a political thoroughbred, and the former president ran flat out tonight. With expectations high for his speech, Clinton laid another brick in the foundation for Obama’s re-election. As predicted, Clinton delivered a powerful, if long, case for a second Obama term.
“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s reelection was pretty simple,” Clinton said. “We left him a total mess, he hasn’t finished cleaning it up yet, so fire him and put us back in. I like the argument for President Obama’s reelection a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy; put a floor under the crash; began the long, hard road to recovery…”
The president continued with another great summary of the Democratic message: “we are all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your own.” And by praising Republican presidents, from Eisenhower’s intervention to integrate Little Rock’s schools to George W.’s funding for AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa, Clinton drew in a strong contrast with the current crop of Republicans who see compromise and bi-partisanship as a weakness.
He then went on to defend the president effectively on Medicare and Medicaid, getting wonky but in a plain-spoken way; and clarified with authority the Romney distortion on Obama’s record on welfare.
Bill Clinton is a bridge orator; he spans the skill set of the country politician who knows how to whip up a crowd, and the most effective modern politicians who employ a more modern, intimate, and conversational style.
One nit: as in 2000 when Clinton spoke on behalf of Al Gore and introduced himself with a long walk complete with graphics superimposed on the screen describing his accomplishments, the former president once again couldn’t resist a long introductory prelude which featured his laudatory work with the Clinton Foundation. And, of course, Clinton bragged on himself with frequency in his speech. But in the end, tonight wasn’t about him; it was about Obama and a more “perfect union,” and it was good.