PHILADELPHIA — There’s a difference between a long-winded speech and a long-winded toast. Bill Clinton’s speech at the second night of the Democratic National Convention fell into the second category. Below is a transcript of his remarks, loosely translated.
BILL CLINTON: (steps to the microphone and exhales, like he can finally breathe again) Hello. I have been married to Hillary Clinton for more than four decades. My task tonight is to make you feel like you were there for all of them, or at least for an equivalent length of time. Buckle in for an exhaustive recounting of our marriage that, depending on who you are, is A Filibuster-esque Wedding Toast or A Forty-Two Minute Assortment Of Curated Personal Anecdotes That Will Serve To Humanize The Candidate.
In the beginning, I was born. Nothing good or important happened in my life until I met Hillary, or, as I liked to call her, as sort of an affectionate, casual nickname, Madam President. She was at Yale in a class about civil rights, a subject about which she has always been passionate. I cannot guarantee, but would guess, that her next class was History, followed by Foreign Policy, Economics, and Common-Sense Solutions That Bridge The Gaps Between People. Those just have always been her interests.
I knew immediately that I had to court this woman and make her mine. Not yet knowing the ways of courtship, and not being in a position of power that I could exploit to bypass them, I was at a loss. Keep in mind that I had a giant beard, shaggy hair, and looked like a partially shaved wookiee.
First, to woo her, I tried staring at her across the library. Amazingly, this kind of worked. Next, I tried trickery. I pretended to sign up for classes that I was not signing up for. I told her that my dorm room was full of common-sense policy solutions. When she arrived she was suspicious. “Where are the common-sense policy solutions you promised?” she asked. “All I see is a saxophone and a big pile of something green labeled ‘DON’T INHALE.'”
But I knew: This was someone I wanted to stand next to while she made great strides in policy for the rest of my life. It turned out that she felt the same way. This was fortunate, because that was the way it wound up happening.
My first proposal needed work. “I love you,” I said. She blinked at me. “Hillary,” I tried, “I want to make common-sense policy solutions beside you for the rest of my days.”
“Ah,” she said. She conferred with her staff, which at that time consisted of two socks whom she made talk to each other behind her thick pile of law books. “I have consulted with my team,” she announced, “and we have reached the decision that this cannot take place at this time.”
Next I tried reverse psychology. “Don’t marry me!” I told her. “I know that your first love is always going to be Making A Difference In People’s Lives and Fighting For The Little Guy. But if that ever changes, I’m here.”
Finally I bought a house, and once real estate was introduced into the bargain, I knew that she would accept me. The next years were just a constant parade of strengths. Mostly Hillary’s strengths, not mine. Through some horrible misunderstanding, the people of Arkansas elected me governor, not her. I spent my entire two-year term going on an abject, groveling apology tour across the state. Every time I arrived and a crowd saw that I was not Hillary, it booed. She was the one. She was always the one.
Then her water broke. Yes, that’s right. That’s the first time anyone has ever said that at a convention about a presidential nominee, except for one very confused man who panicked in the middle of introducing Herbert Hoover. Also, it has been twenty minutes and we are still in the 1980s.
I lost the next election.
Then I was elected governor again, but it was entirely Hillary’s idea. She is the brains of this operation. I am nothing. I am a shaved pig in a business suit. I can barely walk on two legs. I disgust myself. When I think of Hillary and her shining perfection, and then I see myself, and I have to stand next to her, I want to sink beneath the earth and stay there forever. LORD, HOW COULD YOU CREATE TWO SUCH DISPARATE BEINGS?
All I have ever done is watch the Police Academy movies, all six of them. That was a good time. Hillary did not understand what I was doing, because it wasn’t Listening To People’s Problems or Crafting Policies To Solve Them. Those are her two favorite hobbies, although Being A Mother And Role Model is a close third.
Whenever I hear Hillary’s resume, my heart swells with love. And I didn’t just read it, I lived it! I’m going to read it to you now, in the hopes that your heart will do the same. She fought for civil rights. She registered hundreds of voters. Her big blue ox, Babe, created the great lakes we enjoy so much today.
She gave millions of kindergartners bright futures. You might be one of those kindergartners. You might not even KNOW it.
WE DON’T DESERVE HER! NONE OF US DESERVES HER, ESPECIALLY ME.
Once I confronted her about creating a program to help thousands of children get back on track. “Who would be crazy enough to try that?” I asked. “It’s impossible.”
“I already did it,” she said. “Ten minutes ago.” With her heel, she extinguished not one cigarette, but every cigarette.
The one gift that God gave me and forgot to give her was the gift of actually enjoying public speaking. I have loved all of the approximately 90 minutes I have spent with you, whereas Hillary would prefer to be given a root canal by an unlicensed dentist on a wildly rocking boat.
What else? Let us pass quickly over the 1990s. Hillary did some great things in those years. That is the takeaway from those years, I think — don’t you? And then, in 1997, Chelsea went to college. I stood there staring out the window. Hillary unpacked every single one of Chelsea’s boxes, lined her drawers, saw a small inequity in the higher-ed system, and reformed it. That’s what she does in an afternoon. What have you done with your ENTIRE LIFE?
Aristophanes had this theory about love that said that people were originally whole, then they were divided, and they would spend the rest of their lives roaming the universe seeking their missing parts. I have the part of Hillary that loves retail politics. She has literally everything. I am nothing, a mere worm. She has made peace in the Middle East. She repaired America’s image in the world. And she wasn’t even President then. I can’t wait to see what she will do if actually elected.
Anything good I have ever done was Hillary. Anything Hillary has ever done wrong was me. Please elect her president now or both of our lives will be a lie. Thank you.
And then Hillary Clinton burst, Kool-Aid-Man-style, through a screen with pictures of all the presidents on it and it went CRASH TINKLE TINKLE like a PowerPoint sound effect. One of those pictures was of Bill.