Bill Clinton Makes The Case For Barack Obama

Last night, Bill Clinton hit one out of the park for the President Of The United States.

Thousands of column inches have been written since the 2008 Presidential election about the rivalries and resentments between President Obama and the Clinton camp, specifically former President Bill Clinton. By most accounts, and although he never expressed it publicly, the former President was reportedly miffed by the attacks that came at him as he campaigned for his wife, especially during the South Carolina Primary that year when Clinton was nearly accused of racism on more than one occasion. After Obama won the White House, the rumors of bad blood notwithstanding Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State continued and, in the middle of a lame duck session that followed an historic mid-term election defeat for the incumbent party, Clinton famously took over the White House Briefing Room in a scene that made some wonder if it was 1996 all over again. More recently, Republicans have tried to use nostalgia for the Clinton years against the incumbent President, which is ironic considering the partisan wars of the late 1990s.

When was announced as the person who would give the nominating speech for the President, some pundits thought the party was taking a risk. Clinton was never a man known for sticking to a script, after all, and there were questions about whether he’d use the opportunity to promote the President, or promote his (and Hillary’s) own vision of a Democratic Party run by them. Indeed, this week there were reports that Clinton was behind in getting a final draft of his speech to convention organizers and campaign officials, although that’s not all that surprising given that as President Clinton had a reputation for changing speeches virtually up until the time of delivery. When he arrived on stage last night to the sounds of the song that defined his 1992 campaign, though, Clinton delivered possibly the best case for the re-election of the President that anyone has done to date:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama hugged onstage Wednesday night after Mr. Clinton delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Mr. Obama’s re-election, the 42nd president nominating the 44th to a second term with a forceful and spirited argument that Democratic values would restore the promise of the middle class.

The former president delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made during the Republican National Convention last week, warning against Republicans taking back the White House and declaring, “We can’t let it happen.”

He offered an equally detailed affirmative case for the re-election of Mr. Obama, saying there was no question the country was in a better position than it was four years ago.

“We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double down on trickle down,” Mr. Clinton said, repeatedly bringing the crowd at the Democratic convention to its feet. He added, “I love our country so much and I know we’re coming back.”

Mr. Clinton drew sharp lines between the choices facing voters in November. He made the case in a deeply personal way, sometimes articulating the argument for Mr. Obama more forcefully than the president has done throughout his race with Mitt Romney.

“We believe ‘we’re all in this together’ is a better philosophy than ‘you’re on your own,’ ” Mr. Clinton said.

(…)

In the 45-minute speech, Mr. Clinton paid tribute to a spirit of bipartisan political cooperation that he lamented was now missing. He characterized Mr. Obama as a president who wanted to bring that spirit back, noting that the president appointed Republican cabinet secretaries and former political rivals like Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Clinton’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The relationship they built, he said, sent a signal abroad.

“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport,” Mr. Clinton said. “It can be an honorable enterprise.”

The arrival here by Mr. Clinton had the feel of a valedictory, particularly as Mr. Obama arrived on stage at the end of the speech, while thousands of Democrats here thundered their approval. It was, perhaps, a capstone in the political career of Mr. Clinton, who was delivering his eighth speech to a Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Clinton offered a comprehensive, even exhaustive, assessment of Mr. Obama’s first-term priorities, from the auto bailout to the health care law. Brandishing statistics with a familiar vigor, he laid out a case that each of Mr. Obama’s initiatives had met the Republican litmus test: leaving Americans better than four years ago.

“Is the president satisfied? Of course not, but are we better off than we were when he took office?” Mr. Clinton said, pausing as the crowd roared in approval. He added, “The answer is yes.”

Mr. Clinton used the successful economic record of his presidency to offer an illustration of the magnitude of the problems Mr. Obama inherited when he took office in 2009.

“President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did,” Mr. Clinton said. “No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, could have repaired all of the damage he found in just four years.”

Following the speech by Michelle Obama on Tuesday night, the appearance of Mr. Clinton was the highlight of the convention’s second night and underscored the tight nature of the presidential race. He was invited by Mr. Obama himself, who asked him earlier this summer to become more involved in his re-election campaign.

It was in many ways a poignant evening, in part because it marked the full reconciliation of the two most popular Democrats of the past 30 years, but also because Mr. Clinton has been increasingly talking about his own mortality.

Not for the first time at a Democratic Convention, Clinton’s speech went far longer than it was planned, and, at some point, he went so far off the prepared text that the “as delivered” version of his remarks ended up about 2,700 words longer than the prepared text released to the press. Unlike the last time that happened in 1988, though, when the words “in conclusion” were greeted with wild cheers from the crowd, this time there was no sign that anyone in the Time Warner Cable Arena really cared. The Bill Clinton of 1988 was some wet behind the ears Governor from Arkansas. The Bill Clinton of 2012 is, and I don’t think this is an exaggeration, the Democratic equivalent of Ronald Reagan in terms of the enthusiasm he has long been able to generate in the base. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup poll, Bill Clinton has a 66% favorability rating, the highest that number has ever been since he first became President some 19 years ago, among Democrats that number is at 90%.  I suspect Clinton could’ve spoken for a full hour, or longer, and nobody in the hall would’ve minded.

Looking out on the blogosphere, the reactions are about what you’d expect based on the writers political preferences.

Joe Klein at Time was impressed:

I can’t think of any politician who talks as good as Bill Clinton. Certainly, no politician has ever been able to unpack and explain dry, complicated policy nuances in as juicy and entertaining a manner. The folks at Fox were speculating that the speech was overly wonky and maybe a lot of people got bored and turned off their televisions. Wishful thinking, no doubt. That’s what they always said about his epic State of the Union filibusters-and they were always wrong. People like listening to this guy. He’s informal, and informative, in a way that Obama, sadly, has never been able to be-otherwise the folks would have known all that good stuff about the health care plan, and the stimulus plan. But then, Obama’s in good company: as I said, Clinton’s the most compelling policy wonk I’ve ever heard. And there is no second place.

As was Michael Tomasky:

Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.

On the other side of the aisle, there’s Jennifer Rubin: 

Bill Clinton, don’t get me wrong, was the best speaker Wednesday night. But that is largely because the rest of the evening was atrocious. Clinton was hoarse, and he seemed to holler for no reason at all. He decried those meanie Republicans of today (the favorite ploy of partisan Democrats is to praise every Republican no longer in office), and he repeated the tropes that Republicans want you to be on your own, want a “winner-take-all” society and want to help only the rich. Yawn.

At times his defense of President Obama strained credulity: Obama, he said, is bipartisan because he hired Republicans in government jobs and he is willing to work “cooperatively.” The Obama record is so obviously at odds with that sentiment (unilateral action on immigration and on welfare and the refusal to make a deal entitlements or address the fiscal cliff) that Clinton’s argument seemed unserious.

At his most effective, Clinton said that no president could have fixed in four years the economy that Obama inherited. And he extolled the belief that America “always comes back.” Unfortunately, Obama promised to fix the economy in his first term. And the Obama recovery is the weakest in history. The comparison between the two presidents’ records was obvious, leaving one to consider if Clinton’s mere presence was a reminder of Obama’s weaknesses.

Byron York also pointed out that Clinton’s standard is different from the one Obama set for himself, but not everyone on the right was doing whatever they could to discount the impact of Clinton’s speech. Consider the words of former Romney adviser, and long time GOP strategist, Alex Castellanos:

Appearing on CNN shortly after Clinton finished, Alex Castellanos, a longtime cable commentator and former aide to Mitt Romney, spoke in awe of the 42nd president’s address.

“I would recommend to my friend Paul [Begala] here, tonight when everybody leaves, lock the doors. You don’t have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done,” Castellanos said. “This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama. Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party once, it was going to far left, he came in, the new democrats took it to the center. He did it again tonight.”

This is somewhat of an overstatement, of course. The election is far from over and much can happen between now and November 6th that could change the course of the race, not the least of them being next month’s debates. Additionally, it’s hard to say how much impact one speech at a convention is going to have on the race, especially given the fact that ratings are likely to be down as they have been throughout the convention season and last night’s NFL opening game. Nonetheless, there’s plenty in that speech that can be cut into 30-second ads for the campaign, and it’s likely that Clinton is going to be spending the next two months campaigning in many crucial parts of the country, including the swing states where the independent voters that Clinton likely appeals to are located.  In a race where the outcome of a single state could decide the election, and the outcome in a single state could be decided by tiny, tiny, margins, there’s no doubt that Clinton could help Obama there, and that the GOP really doesn’t have anyone capable of equaling him.

Say whatever you will about Bill Clinton, and I’ve noticed in the past 12  hours or so that many on the right have chosen to respond to the former Presidents speech by bringing up everything from Gennifer Flower to Kathleen Wiley to Monica Lewinsky to impeachment, but you cannot discount his political skills and his ability to connect with voters. It’s the reason he won an election that, by all logical evaluation, he should’ve lost in 1992 when the revelations about his past came out. It’s the reason that he survived the disastrous outcome of the 1994 elections after overreaching in the first half of his first term. It’s the reason he survived impeachment, and the reason that, after 12 years out of office, he’s become an elder statesman of the Democratic Party and one of most popular former Presidents in recent American history. Last night, he used all of those political skills to make a case for President Obama’s re-election that was, quite honestly, more eloquent than anything we’ve seen so far from the President himself or any of his surrogates. I don’t know whether or not this will be the moment that we can say Obama won the election, quite honestly I considered him the favorite before Clinton spoke, but if I were a Republican I’d be just as concerned about Bill Clinton as I was in the 90s. They still haven’t figured out how to beat him, and it looks like he’s back in the game.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. G.A. says:

    Comment deleted on account of it being stupid and adding nothing to the conversation. – JHJ

  2. Beyond all that, it surely registers with voters at some level why George W. Bush can’t or won’t make the same appeal.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    I haven’t watched any of the convention stuff (I hate political theatre in all its forms, and don’t listen to speeches and whatnot. I care about policy, and I can read instead of listening), but it appears based on the excerpts I’ve seen (I may read the whole thing at some point, but then Bill threw a curveball by ad-libbing), Clinton did what needed doing, and actually got into some detail about policy, which is nice. Whether it has any real impact on the public, I don’t know. I’m skeptical of these things in general, because seriously who stays up late on a Wednesday night to listen to politicians? I grant the possibility that this is a “nobody like me” thing in which the fact that I’m not normal comes into play. 😉

    It’s funny. Back in the 90s, I found that if I read a Clinton speech, I liked it. But I simply could not listen to him. Could. Not. Stand. Him. This ties back into me not being normal, I guess.

  4. Fiona says:

    The Big Dog was masterful last night both in eviscerating Romney-Ryan for their lies, and in reminding Democrats the values their party, at it’s best, stands for. He was clearly in his element, setting out the case for Obama in a detailed but folksy manner like only Clinton can. Obama will have a hard time topping that speech.

  5. Clanton says:

    Obama’s problem is now that Clinton will get all the press and attention. Clinton would be way ahead in the polls: independents and many Republicans would want him back.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    The speech had the added benefit of being…you know…TRUE.
    (No matter what fiction hyper-partisan hacks like Rubin and York try to spin)
    Also ADP is out with a promising jobs report this AM.
    This is just one more week that Romney has lost to Obama…although it was to be expected during the DNC Convention…I doubt anyone suspected he’d be tagged in the jaw this hard.
    Very little bump from naming Ryan.
    No bump from the RNC Convention.
    Seemingly the only positive thing the Republicans have going is an ad that is a blatant lie.
    Time is getting short for the whiney-assed-titty-babies.
    However Romney is going on MTP this weekend…it’s not like Gregory is going to ask any hard questions. So he has that going for him…which is nice.

  7. MBunge says:

    I don’t wish to diminish Clinton’s political skills. Dude can obviously connect with folks and does have a conversational grasp of policies that few politicians, including Obama, ever master. But he does mightily benefit from the irrational happenstance of fate. Pretty much everything policy-wise liberals complain about with Obama, Clinton is even more guilty of. Heck, even some of the stuff they blame on Bush II has Clinton’s fingerprints on it. And politically speaking, Bill Clinton was the worst thing to happen to the Democratic Party since before FDR. The best you can say for him is he simply accelerated certain electoral trends that were going to happen anyway. But because he beat the Republicans not once, not twice but three times when that was the only thing Democrats and liberals cared about doing, he gets a pass for all that.

    Mike

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @G.A.: “And I should know! Cause I am one!”

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @ Rob…
    The entire Democratic Convention has been far heavier on policy than the Republican Convention was. Of course Romney is commited to not telling us specifics until after the election. I suppose because if he did…no one would vote for him.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    “I would recommend to my friend Paul [Begala] here, tonight when everybody leaves, lock the doors. You don’t have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done,” Castellanos said. “This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama. Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party once, it was going to far left, he came in, the new democrats took it to the center. He did it again tonight.”

    I don’t think that last night, Bill Clinton saved the Democratic Party from going too far left. Rather what he did was give Obama and the Democratic Party a lot of reflected light and warmth, which contrasts greatly with the image of the GOP.

    And let’s be clear, although polling shows that the public ‘likes’ Obama, it is generally not said that he’s warm, he’s not a schmoozer and not a ‘retail’ politician. Clinton put the Party in the best possible light considering how difficult these 4 years have been.

  11. Rob in CT says:

    @Clanton:

    The funny thing is that on substantive policy, I don’t see all that much difference between Obama and Clinton. A lot of the supposed Republican nostalgia for Clinton is BS or simply based in a vague fuzzy feeling about the late-90s economy. In the 90s, Republicans *hated* Bill Clinton. [Indeed, the best argument against hatred of Obama being primarily driven by racial animus, rather than partisanship, is to recall the Clinton Presidency]

  12. Jr says:

    @Clanton: This sounds more like GOP desperation. Clinton did what the President has always had problems doing by explaining what has happened the past 3 years to masses. He utterly destroyed Romney/Ryan in less then an hour.

    This isn’t the final nail in the coffin, but the outlook is looking grim for Mitt.

  13. mattb says:

    @Clanton:

    Obama’s problem is now that Clinton will get all the press and attention.

    That is a possibility — though Obama’s been known to give a good speech in his time — but you have to ask yourself the following thing:

    Even though Clinton might get all the attention, what the press will be talking about (a) the strong case he made against Romney and (b) the strong case he made for Obama.

    Unfortunately for Mr Romney, after Clint Eastwood overshadowed his speech, what most people in the press were discussing was his decision to talk to an empty chair. No one could really talk about Eastwood’s attack on Obama or his endorsement of Romney, for both were tepid at best.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    It was a master class in communicating complex ideas to an audience and somehow in all the wonkery, leaving them crying and begging for more. Anyone who does public speaking (and I do a little) can only feel jealous and utterly inadequate.

    It was supernatural.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Haven’t watched it yet. I will watch it later when I have time. Like Rob, I am not much for political speeches so I may not get thru the whole thing. Unlike Rob, Clinton does not get on my nerves. But then, I am not normal either. 😉

  16. @MBunge:

    Clinton was convinced by apparatchiks that he should reduce FinReg, which was IMO an error.

    The dark geniuses from Wall Street still have too much power, but sadly no one in mainstream politics is going to focus on them.

  17. Peacewood says:

    You actually *can* talk about policy and not have to paper your speech with bland bromides!

    Whoda thunk.

  18. Stonetools says:

    In an earlier comment, I said that people might not trust their women folk around Bill, but they would be happy to listen to him talk policy. Amirite?
    Bill just took apart every argument the Republicans have thrown at Obama in the last 6 months and did it in language an ordinary person could understand.
    Ryan-Romney’s budget? Do the arithmetic!
    Medicare-Medicaid? They are lying about Medicare and they’ll gut Medicaid-and btw, they’re gutting Medicaid hurts seniors!( That master stroke ties seniors into defending health care for the poor and wrecks the Republican attempts to exploit seniors fears that the Democrats are taking from Medicare to give money to ” those ” people).
    His speech may have been too long but it was brilliant-and much better than any speech given at the RNC.

  19. LaMont says:

    Some of Bill Clinton’s remarks that I thought were great and can be used in any Obama campaign ad;

    “Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24,” Clinton said. “In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 (million).”

    “Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”

    ” In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”

    Classic!!!

  20. Rob in CT says:

    See now, folks, I think we should upvote GA. I find his comment quite helpful. It’s illustrative.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    Bigger picture…the Democrats are making the Republicans look small and petty.

  22. Rob in CT says:

    We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in

    Solid. The fuller version is “He hasn’t fixed it fast enough, despite us doing everything we can do to block him. So fire him and put us back in.” But maybe that wouldn’t have worked in a speech.

  23. Jay Dubbs says:

    The Big Dog can connect with the American people like no other living politician. It is not a coincidence that he is the only living former President or Vice-President who appeared at his party’s convention. Last night may not have been the clincher, but he made the case for re-election better than anyone before him. He also filleted the Romney-Ryan ticket with such efficiency that Tony Soprano would bow to the master.

    Now Obama needs to step up with what he will do in the next four year. It will be a big moment, but Clinton cleared the way so that he doesn’t need to spend too much time defending the past four years and he can focus on the next four.

    (And BTW does any politician seem to enjoy being in front of the crowd more than Bill? He was part preacher, part professor and loving every moment of it. He would have happily gone on for another hour.)

  24. @LaMont:

    “Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”

    I don’t know, man. “Arithmetic” might just be a dog-whistle for rational voters.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @ Rob…
    RE: GA…
    Illustrative…as always.

  26. Clanton says:

    @C. Clavin: Being true? There are many things Clinton said that just don’t fit the facts. Other times, he was exaggerating. If everything he said about the last four years was “true” as you put it, the unemployment rate would be at 4%, gas would be $2 a gallon, there would be a surplus, and Obama’s approval rating would be around 70%.
    Ol’ Bill’s still as slick as ever!

  27. Jr says:

    @Rob in CT: There isn’t which makes the whole “Clinton was pragmatic centrist, while Obama is raging leftie argument.” nonsense.

    Obama and Clinton are both moderate Democrats, and there is really nothing different between the two in terms of policy.

  28. Me Me Me says:

    @Clanton:

    Obama’s problem is now that Clinton will get all the press and attention.

    Why is it a problem for Obama that the press will be paying attention to Clinton saying that the Romney/Ryan program is a big steaming pile of lies and that nothing that the Republicans say adds up?

  29. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I missed the speech. The Giants-Cowboys game was on last night. Plus the chances of me watching a Democrat convention are about the same as the chances of San Francisco not being gentrified, which is to say none.

    From perusing the reports about the speech it’s pretty clear the media and a large segment of the chattering classes on the Internet are in full bloom of orgasmic revelry. Obviously that’s not at all surprising.

    A few comments are in order:

    – The idea of making an analogy between Clinton and Reagan, concerning pure political gravitas, laughably is preposterous. Reagan won two consecutive monumental landslides. He won 44 states in ’80 and followed that up in ’84 by winning 49 states. In both elections Reagan won majorities of the popular vote, nearly reaching 60% the second time around. Clinton won a plurality contest in ’92 with 43% of the vote and then upon reelection, during a roaring economy no less, could not muster even a bare majority of the national vote. A majority of the electorate in ’96 voted not to reelect him. Dole was a walking corpse of a candidate, but yet still won 19 states.

    These are two completely different political animals. There’s really no comparison whatsoever, whether in reference to their respective “bases” or to anything else concerning raw political weight.

    – Probably the greatest irony inherent in the left’s continued affinity for Clinton, albeit at times love-hate, is that after the ’94 mid-term wipeout Clinton morphed into arguably the best Republican president of our lifetimes, at least concerning domestic issues. From welfare reform, to tax reform, to death penalty and habeas reform, to free trade, and various arenas in between, virtually every major domestic accomplishment of his was straight out of the Republican manifesto.

    – This meme of Republican “obstructionism” is so cognitively dissonant it nearly defies words. Harry Reid has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, continuously. The Democrats controlled the entire Congress from January 2007 through January 2011, inclusive. You’d actually have to be brain dead to believe that Obama’s agenda in any material respect has been thwarted by Republicans. The Democrats for the first two full years of Obama’s term in essence had absolute power.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @ Clanton…

    “…If everything he said about the last four years was “true” as you put it, the unemployment rate would be at 4%, gas would be $2 a gallon, there would be a surplus, and Obama’s approval rating would be around 70%…”

    Please provide links ort quotes that support your statement.

  31. Me Me Me says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The idea of making an analogy between Clinton and Reagan, concerning pure political gravitas, laughably is preposterous.

    A bit of pointless blather followed by this silly strawman. I didn’t both with the rest.

  32. Moderate Mom says:

    I watched the speech on Fox and thought it was brilliant. The only off putting thing (and the fault of Fox) was the constant close ups of women in the audience watching the speech with absolute adoration on their faces. That was just a little creepy, given the Big Dog’s reputation.

  33. brutalfacts says:

    Yesterday the GOP was hoping that Clinton would veer off message and somehow damage Obama. Those dreams are crushed.

    Today, the Republican mime is that Clinton will overshadow Obama. Will not happen

    Tonight’s speech is right up Obama’s wheelhouse and set up perfectly.

    The First Lady humanizes and connects on day one. Not a tough lift. Ann Romney had a tougher job (in which she fell short) but Michelle gives a stirring speech exceeding what was needed.

    Clinton provides the background and specifics on day two. Remember when Paul Ryan was a “really serious person” and policy wonk with political chops? Well now that the master has exposed him he looks very small.

    Tonight its time for the vision thing, Obama builds on the last two days. Clinton was Clinton last night, the best political policy communicator of our time. Obama can convey vision message better than any politician out there.

    When it’s done Mitt will look microscopic. And face it Romney has had his legs cut out from under him. How does he respond? No the election is not over but it’s getting harder and harder to see Romney winning. Today he has no momentum and no message that will hold up. He has more money though the impact of that money will diminish with each dollar spent.
    I think is more likely that the down ballot GOP candidates start to distance themselves from Romney. They never really liked him anyway and if impending defeat is in the cards they will start worrying about their own skins. The question at that point is does Romney go gracefully like McCain or gin up the crazy.

    If we get the Obama I expect tonight the 2012 DNC will go down as one the great difference making conventions of the media age. It will be the template for conventions going forward. Bad news for Republicans is they don’t have a Bill Clinton, and after 2016 will not have a Barack Obama. The GOP not only has a thin bench they have nobody big enough to state their case.

  34. MBunge says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “The Democrats for the first two full years of Obama’s term in essence had absolute power.”

    Except for the whole fact that Republican escalation of filibuster abuse meant that NOTHING could pass without at least 60 votes in the Senate. I could be wrong, but I suspect that if Obama had been able to pass things with a simple majority, there’s an awful lot of stuff he would have done differently.

    Mike

  35. C. Clavin says:

    @ Tsar…

    “…Clinton morphed into arguably the best Republican president of our lifetimes, at least concerning domestic issues. From welfare reform, to tax reform, to death penalty and habeas reform, to free trade, and various arenas in between, virtually every major domestic accomplishment of his was straight out of the Republican manifesto….”

    See…finally…you are onto something. You are absolutely right. The Democrats have moved to the center and have embraced Conservative values. No one is trying to keep this a secret. The PPACA is a Republican program. As is Cap and Trade. As is the Dream Act. The only people that don’t get this are Republicans. This is because what you are seemingly incapable of recognizing is that in response to this overt Democratic evolution Republicans have veered way off to the extreme. Republicans are now the radicals. Imperialistic Foreign Policy. Clinging to failed Ideological Economic Theories. Mysogeny. Xenophobia. Rejection of Science…and as Clinton said…Arithmetic.
    Finally Tsar and I agree…Obama is the only Conservative candidate in this race.

  36. sam says:

    I think Yuval Levin over at The Corner ran up the white flag, though he would never admit it:

    Clinton argued, for instance, that Democratic presidents had seen more jobs created during their terms than Republican presidents in the postwar era, which is certainly interesting…

  37. @Tsar Nicholas:

    I know you tried to be reasonable, and I hated to down-vote you for that reason, but I did it for this lie:

    You’d actually have to be brain dead to believe that Obama’s agenda in any material respect has been thwarted by Republicans. The Democrats for the first two full years of Obama’s term in essence had absolute power.

    As others have noted, “absolute power” in Washington requires 2/3 majorities in congress and a solid majority on the supreme court.

  38. Rob in CT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I remember back in the 90s, my Republican leaning (but at the time, non-citizen) father, who listened to Rush constantly (and now claims he didn’t, or didn’t much), complaining (whining, really) that Clinton “took Republican ideas and took the credit.”

    Which, in retrospect, is pretty funny. Yay, we won on policy but a guy with a D after his name got credit for it so waaaaah.

    And I think this was interalized in a really, really unhealthy way. Hence (in part) the reaction to Obama: instant, lockstep opposition. No way was another guy with a D after his name gonna get any credit for bipartisan stuff. No way, no how.

  39. Rob in CT says:

    The Dems had the senate filibuster-free for ~7 months, IIRC. Which isn’t 2 years. Neither is it nothing.

  40. @Tsar Nicholas:

    I mean, you remember the “stimulus fight” and the “health care fight” right?

    With “absolute power” there is no “fight.”

  41. JohnMcC says:

    Back in 2001 I was watching C-SPAN. At Heritage a panel of mostly right-wing talking heads and wonks was discussing the 2000 election, Florida, Bush v Gore and such. The little conference room had — maybe — 75 or 100 people-in-suits. One speaker asked the audience a question: ‘If there were no 22d Amendment and George W Bush had run against Bill Clinton, how many here think he would have won?’

    Maybe 8 or 10 people raised their hands.

    He’s a flawed person (as we all are) but an amazing political force.

  42. anjin-san says:

    Early reports on jobs are looking very good. So much for the GOP “pray for unemployment” strategy. We can put it on the scrap heap next to pray for $6 gas.

    In other news, Clinton just crushed the Republicans last night. A master at the top of his game. I often remark that I am reluctant Democrat, but after watching Michelle Obama & Bill, I think I am dropping the reluctant part.

  43. anjin-san says:

    There are reports that conservative groups are pulling ads from Michigan & PA…

  44. marginoerra says:
  45. MBunge says:

    @Rob in CT: “The Dems had the senate filibuster-free for ~7 months, IIRC.”

    No, they still needed to get 60 votes for everything, it was just possible to get those 60 votes for some things. My point is that if it had only taken 50 votes plus Biden to get things through the Senate, it seems quite likely that a whole bunch of stuff would have made it into law which never even got proposed under the 60 vote requirement.

    Mike

  46. @Tsar Nicholas:

    The Democrats controlled the entire Congress from January 2007 through January 2011, inclusive.

    You are incorrect, because you are forgetting the filibuster.

    As I detailed in this post, the Democrats actually only had a 60 vote majority in the Senate for a very short period of time.

  47. C. Clavin says:

    Republicans pulling ads from Penn and Michigan? That makes a narrow path even narrower. How long before down-ticket Candidates start jumping ship?

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Thanks for calling back that presser where Obama basically passed the buck to Clinton and left. That was, singularly, the most unpresidential I have EVER seen a president behave in public. Obama essentially allowed Clinton to resume his presidential role in the White House, on live TV. It was surreal… and downright frightening.

  49. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So why do you think Bush is stuffed in some closet, hidden in Texas?

    It really is a biting contrast, that Obama can stand there with the last Democratic President and argue from continuity, while the Republicans are forced into a strange game: As their policies trend more and more toward those of Bush/Cheney, Romney/Ryan must keep the old crew as “non-persons”

  50. anjin-san says:

    The pretzel logic contortions of conservatives trying to find negatives in Clinton’s speech should provide some marginal entertainment. Meanwhile, the last GOP President was invited by his party to stay home and watch the convention on TV.

    For someone who is so often called a narcissistic glory hog by the right, Obama has been pretty generous spreading the spotlight around.

  51. Rob in CT says:

    @MBunge:

    Sorry, allow me to re-phrase. They had 60 votes (at least theoretically) in the Senate for a combined total of just about 7 months (split into two periods, as detailed by Doug’s old post. Ignoring, of course, the 1 day).

  52. PGlenn says:

    Doug wrote, “. . . it’s likely that Clinton is going to be spending the next two months campaigning in many crucial parts of the country.” That could be interesting. Supposedly, Clinton refuses to take any direction and/or be “handled” by Obama staffers. A 66 year old Clinton going on the road and talking off-the-cuff in the Twitter era of politics . . . careful what you wish for.

  53. Jr says:

    @C. Clavin: The insiders know unless we get an October surprise that Romney is done, money is better spent in competitive congressional districts.

  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @john personna: So why do you think Bush is stuffed in some closet, hidden in Texas?

    Bush has pretty much stuffed himself in the closet. He said he wanted out, and he got out. But he and his father were featured in a nice video at the convention.

    But you remind me… where’s Jimmy Carter?

  55. Me Me Me says:

    @PGlenn: Wow, dude, that talking point is so very yesterday.

    Tip: allowing old Hollywood star to amble up to mic with no script and a strange prop = bad planning. Deploying the most talented politician of our generation to do his thing = winning.

  56. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Awesome. Did you really mean to equate the failures of Carter and Bush?

  57. Me Me Me says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Let me remind you that Jimmy Carter is at the convention and addressed it on Tuesday.
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2012/09/04/president_jimmy_carter_addresses_the_dem_convention.html

    Even the Republican trolling is scraping the bottom of the barrel this morning.

  58. C. Clavin says:

    @ Indiana Jones…
    Carter was also in a nice video…did you have a point you wanted to make? Or were you just adjusting your fedora?

  59. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea’s Sock Puppet Jenos Idanian #13:

    That was, singularly, the most unpresidential I have EVER seen a president behave in public.

    Leaving the former president to continue talking to the press, which he loves to do, after a half hour is most unpresidential you’ve ever seen a president behave? That’s more than a little absurd.

    For me, it was when George W. Bush made light of thousands and thousands of deaths he caused by pursuing a foolish war in Iraq by making jokes about the lack of WMDs at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in 2004. But, you know, laughing about a war you started is not as bad as leaving a press conference that has gone on for a while. That’s just the worst thing ever.

  60. sam says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    It was surreal… and downright frightening.

    Imagine that. 13 having the vapors.

  61. michael reynolds says:

    Sniff. . . sniff. . . sniff. . .

    Yep, that’s the smell of fear coming from our Indiana Jones. Sorry, I mean Indiana Jones #13.

  62. For what it’s worth, I think Carter’s heart was in the right place, but “put on a sweater, turn down the thermostat” killed him. The right response to “malaise” was not muddle through, but Reagan’s “dawn in America.” Carter had to spend his years in the wilderness because of that. I think Bush’s years in the wilderness will be longer and harder. Exploding deficits and bad wars are a worse legacy than the one Carter handed to Reagan.

    It will be interesting to see, if there is a Jeb Bush 2016, how much they let George out of the house.

  63. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    @ Indiana Jones…

    I prefer to call him Mutt Williams.
    He’s no Indiana Jones….

  64. Jr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Jimmy Carter hasn’t been President in over 30 years, he is politically irrelevant……George Bush was President just four years ago and is still fresh in people’s mind.

    Jezz, talk about false equivalence.

  65. anjin-san says:

    Don’t be too hard on Indy. I have no doubt that watching Democrats present such a compelling argument about the importance of actually governing while at the same time putting forth reality-based policy is terrifying, both for him and countless other conservatives.

  66. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    They brought Clint Eastwood talking to a chair. We brought Bill Clinton talking facts, numbers and specifics to the American people.

    You want a snapshot of the two campaigns? There it is.

    They should be scared.

  67. al-Ameda says:

    Thanks for calling back that presser where Obama basically passed the buck to Clinton and left. That was, singularly, the most unpresidential I have EVER seen a president behave in public. Obama essentially allowed Clinton to resume his presidential role in the White House, on live TV. It was surreal… and downright frightening.

    What really bothers me is that lousy photo-shopped version of his birth certificate that he presented to the American public – now THAT’S unpresidential. Orly Taitz and Donald Trump think so too.

  68. Doubter4444 says:

    @G.A.:
    AWESOME response, Dr. Joyner

  69. Carson says:

    Looks like rose colored glasses were selling very well at the DNC.
    Evidently, Clinton’s getting the old campaign itch again or he’s been lighting up the cigars.

  70. anjin-san says:

    Looks like the “disillusioned former Obama supporter’ in a recent Romney ad is actually a Republican operative.

    I am shocked. Shocked, I say…

    http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/rnc-staffer-plays-obama-supporter-in-gop-ad.php?ref=fpa

  71. Gabrielle says:

    @Clanton:

    I dont thinkit matters if clinton gets more press because hes for obama and thats all that matters !

  72. The Q says:

    Tsar, yes certain things are taken for granted, reagan is a god, San Francisco is gentrified and whatever you write is worthless tripe.

    I find it fascinating when the loons on the right talk about how Clinton’s economic success was really a result of him having to cater to the Republican Congress and his move to the “right”.

    And because of this, he was one of the best “Republican” presidents. Hence the record job growth, the boost in productivity, the huge surpluses were not of his doing, but rather Clinton moderating his liberal tendencies and cooperating with the wingnut Congress.

    The absurdity of this charge is simple. What the fuckk happened to the surpluses and job growth when he left office?

    If the prosperity was really due to the wingnut Congress of 94-00, why the need to completely abandon those same successful policies when bush got in?

    The fact is NOT ONE REPUBLICAN voted for the 94 Omnibus Act which raised taxes. In fact, here is what Gingrich said at the time:

    “I believe that this will in fact kill the current recovery and put us back in a recession. It might take 1 1/2 or 2 years, but it will happen.

    Or this from dick armey:

    “this will add to the deficit and is a jobs killer”

    So, Tsar, stop with the utter nonsense you spout continuously. You’re a hack. The republicans are mindless morons, who given the change to drive the car into the ditch, will surely do so with their doubling down on the trickle down.

    Why should they care as long as they loot the treasury for even more tax cuts to the Walton family?

    Does anyone take supply side seriously anymore? Are there alchemists out there still trying to turn lead into gold?

  73. The Q says:

    Tsar, yes certain things are taken for granted, reagan is a god, San Francisco is gentrified and whatever you write is worthless tripe.

    I find it fascinating when the loons on the right talk about how Clinton’s economic success was really a result of him having to cater to the Republican Congress and his move to the “right”.

    And because of this, he was one of the best “Republican” presidents. Hence the record job growth, the boost in productivity, the huge surpluses were not of his doing, but rather Clinton moderating his liberal tendencies and cooperating with the wingnut Congress.

    The absurdity of this charge is simple. What the fruckk happened to the surpluses and job growth when he left office?

    If the prosperity was really due to the wingnut Congress of 94-00, why the need to completely abandon those same successful policies when bush got in?

    The fact is NOT ONE REPUBLICAN voted for the 94 Omnibus Act which raised taxes. In fact, here is what Gingrich said at the time:

    “I believe that this will in fact kill the current recovery and put us back in a recession. It might take 1 1/2 or 2 years, but it will happen.

    Or this from dick armey:

    “this will add to the deficit and is a jobs killer”

    So, Tsar, stop with the utter nonsense you spout continuously. You’re a hack. The republicans are mindless morons, who given the change to drive the car into the ditch, will surely do so with their doubling down on the trickle down.

    Why should they care as long as they loot the treasury for even more tax cuts to the Walton family?

    Does anyone take supply side seriously anymore? Are there alchemists out there still trying to turn lead into gold?

  74. David M says:

    I actually watched the entire speech on youtube, and it did not disappoint. I wonder how many years until George W Bush does the same at the RNC convention?

  75. anjin-san says:

    This thread is much quieter than I expected. Perhaps today is a good time for somber reflection by Republicans.

  76. mantis says:

    @anjin-san:

    Perhaps today is a good time for somber reflection by Republicans.

    This assumes they are capable of such a thing.

  77. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Whatever you think of him or his record, the guy’s a political genius. I’m constantly in awe how well he connects to people and good he is at personalizing and selling ideas. Pure poetry.

  78. Septimius says:

    It must really burn Obama that he has to rely on a former racist like Bill Clinton to carry him to reelection.

  79. jukeboxgrad says:

    doug:

    if I were a Republican I’d be just as concerned about Bill Clinton as I was in the 90s. They still haven’t figured out how to beat him, and it looks like he’s back in the game.

    Yes, the GOP tried really, really hard to beat Clinton and the Clinton machine, over a period of years, and they failed repeatedly. But do you remember who was finally able to do what the GOP could not do, and beat the Clinton machine? Obama. That’s what he did when he beat Hillary in 2008.

    So as we laud Bill Clinton for being so strong, let’s recall this bit of evidence that maybe Obama is in the same class.

    Related: in 2008 McCain beat Mitt, and then Obama beat McCain. So Obama is now running against a guy who got beaten by a guy who got beaten by Obama.

  80. al-Ameda says:

    @Septimius:

    It must really burn Obama that he has to rely on a former racist like Bill Clinton to carry him to reelection.

    If people really want one-stop shopping for racists the place to be is the current GOP.

  81. jukeboxgrad says:

    john:

    Beyond all that, it surely registers with voters at some level why George W. Bush can’t or won’t make the same appeal.

    Exactly. Clinton’s speech is a reminder that the real empty chair at RNC was the chair which did not contain GWB. He was the invisible man. In contrast, Clinton is at the center of DNC, and giving us the indelible image of being embraced by Obama. Can anyone imagine Mitt and GWB hugging each other, on stage? (I tried to find a photo of such a thing, but I couldn’t; how amusing to notice that it’s easy to find a photo of GWB hugging Obama).

    Clinton was a success; GWB was a failure. Clinton is now highly popular; GWB is not. Clinton is highly visible at DNC; GWB was the invisible man at RNC.

    To anyone watching from a distance (that is, most people), this is the message that comes across: the Dems are proud of what they’ve done in the last couple of decades, whereas the GOP is trying hard to run away from what they’ve done in the last couple of decades.

    So Gecko/Galt are the perfect GOP candidates, because so much of what they do is about running away from their own records.

  82. jukeboxgrad says:

    tsar:

    Clinton morphed into arguably the best Republican president of our lifetimes

    Next time give credit to the very prominent Republican who said that long before you did:

    I think Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we’ve had in a while

    Link, link.

  83. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Me Me Me: Let me remind you that Jimmy Carter is at the convention and addressed it on Tuesday.

    Thank you, I missed it. I do remember one year — I think it was 2004 — they stuffed Ol’ Peanut Head in a box with Michael Moore.

    I dunno who was being punished there…

  84. anjin-san says:

    @ Septimius

    It must really burn Obama that he has to rely on a former racist like Bill Clinton to carry him to reelection.

    It must really burn conservatives that this sort of pathetic tripe is all they seem to have in terms of a counterpunch…

  85. LC says:

    Clinton did last night what Obama – hailed as a speaker of exceptional gifts during his campaign – has not done in 4 years as President: sold his policies to the country.

    I noticed it most clearly during the health care debate when he sort of begged people to maybe consider that it might be a good idea to have a public option. He has been laid-back and apologetic. And he must be held responsible, in part, for the 2010 debacle because he did not come out swinging in support of what the Democratic Congress had accomplished in spite of not just a lack of cooperation from Republicans but deliberate, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate.

    It’s become a cliche to say that we faced the worst economic crisis since the Depression when Obama was elected, but it is true. We needed an FDR in office or, as we saw last night, a Bill Clinton. Obama’s “coolness” may or may not be a good attribute in a President, but we have needed a “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” President and Obama has not met that standard.

    That is, perhaps, the most important reason that I suspect many Democrats will vote for him without enthusiasm. He’s not responsible for Republican obstructionism. But he is guilty of a lack of salesmanship, of, quite simply, an ability to sell a vision and a plan to back it up.

    OT: I was utterly infuriated by all the punditocracy criticism of the length of the speech. It was not boring. It was full of content, meat, exceptionally well-delivered. (I leave fact-checking to others.) It is what we should expect from people asking us to vote for them. Perhaps it is not Americans who have a short attention span but the so-called journalists and pundits who fill the airwaves with soundbites and gossip.

  86. The Q says:

    jukeboxgrad, what beat hillary was her vote for the Iraq War….what beat McCain was the Lehman bankruptcy a month before the election.

    What got Obama elected to the presidency was a gal named Jeri Ryan, an actress, who accused her husband of being a voyeur and engaging in 3somes with her and other men.

    I am sure you remember that Obama got to run for senate against the totally brain dead dipshite Alan Keyes, courtesy of the then presumptive winner republican Jack Ryan bowing out of the race.

    For once a republican dick ruined a political career. Obama was badly trailing in all the polls and the unsealing of the divorce records of jack and jeri ryan embarrassed the repub into quitting.

    Again, Obama’s Irish luck held him in good stead.

  87. anjin-san says:

    @LC

    Republicans were, for the most part, rabidly opposed to FDR. And Clinton. And now they are rabidly opposed to Obama. I will stipulate that Obama’s political skills are not equal to FDR or Clinton’s, but who’s are? Same old GOP. Party before country.

    If telling yourself Democrats are not excited about Obama gets you through the night, go for it. This Democrat thinks you are fooling yourself.

  88. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    Don’t you fancy yourself a military buff? The man you refer to as Ol’ Peanut Head was once known as Lieutenant James Earle Carter, Jr., USN.

    What have you done for your country?

  89. LC says:

    @anjin-san:
    I hope you are right about Democratic enthusiasm, but I think of an Obama with a Republican Senate and a Republican House, and the best I can see for the next two years is a veto pen. And a profound hope that none of the liberal Justices die.

    But even if Democrats retain control of the Senate, I see an Obama presidency in which he continues to give away the store in the hope of proving that he is “bipartisan”. In short, I don’t trust him to fight.

    Yes, both FDR and Clinton faced horrific Republican opposition – but oratorical skills help (FDR was elected 4 times) and Obama’s have not been up to the job.

    Finally, it goes without question that a Romney presidency would be a disaster for the country, a rerun of Bush 43.

  90. LC says:

    @Rob in CT:
    You might want to give it a look. The video is available. You can always FF or just stop watching.

    And BuzzFeed has put together a mashup of the printed text vs. the adlib:
    Clinton’s Speech: Written vs. Presented