Okay, I’m ready. I’ve got my cat next to me, my laptop fired up and my hand on the pause button so I can blog as we go…. bring it on!
Firstly, yes, there are just as many boring speakers at the DNC as at the RNC last week. Yes, their ideas are more in line with my views generally, but if I’m being honest, these conventions are really tedious, far too predictable and far too carefully scripted. Except for Bill Clinton.
Hold that thought. We’ll come back to that.
If you were watching CBS or ABC you would have missed one interesting thing: Sandra Fluke’s speech. It’s a not-funny non-irony, because as you might remember, she was the Georgetown Law student who was prevented from testifying on the importance of birth control to a House committee. You know, the woman Rush Limbaugh labeled a “slut” for speaking up about how insurance companies need to cover birth control.
After Sandra, there are a few more good, but not notable speakers. And then, Elizabeth Warren–yes! You know why I love this woman? Because she’s PROGRESSIVE and not apologetic about it. There are days I want Obama to be so much more progressive, days when I want Dems to stand up and yes, have a frickin’ backbone. And on those days, I watch the YouTube video of Elizabeth Warren going off, just to make me feel better, to remind me that I ain’t so crazy, and that there are leaders out there who are share my lefty-liberal, socially responsible viewpoint.
Warren’s speech isn’t a barn burner, but she makes a lot of good points and she doesn’t sound like a crazy person. Nice and calm. I can appreciate that after listening to people shout into the microphone all night.
But now… it’s time for Bill Clinton. Everyone sit up, grab your drinks and pay attention. This–THIS is what we’ve been waiting for. Freakin’ brilliant. I’m thinking it’s one of the best speeches we are going to see here in Charlotte and wondering if Obama can top that. Of course, I thought that same thing back in 2008 too.
As I’m watching it, I’m looking at the transcript, meaning his prepared remarks, and noticing the little differences, the extra facts that he sprinkles throughout brilliantly. I love his digression from the text to talk about National Security and Hillary’s work as Secretary of State. Man has a mind like a steel trap. As Huffpo says, Bill kills it.
Here are some of my “Thank you!” lines–you know, the ones where you slap the couch and shout, “Thank you! Finally someone said it!”:
I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.
The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made. One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.
Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!
I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it. I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.
There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.
When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget. [Then Clinton ad libs] You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.
People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.
Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left, because it defied arithmetic. [and he ad libs]It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was a country boy from Arkansas and came from a place where people thought two and two was four.
Clinton has always had this uncanny ability to make complicated policy stuff comprehensible, he can make people LOVE hearing budget numbers. At 48 minutes, he runs overtime by about half an hour, and nobody even cares. He must be the only politician I’ve ever seen who can keep an audience in rapt attention while quoting jobs figures to them. How does he do it?? The spell he has over the crowd is awe-inspiring. Paula Poundstone tweeted, “I want a Bill Clinton backpack, a Bill Clinton lunchbox, Bill Clinton toothpaste, Bill Clinton curtains, and a Bill Clinton beach towel…” (Paula, let me know where I can order those–call me!)
Oh, and after a three-day GOP convention in which everyone tiptoed around the very mention of any Bushes, how ironic is it that the only shout-out heard in either convention comes from Bill Clinton at the DNC? Hah.
Says US News &World Report: “Clinton’s mournful recounting that extremist elements of the GOP had driven “two distinguished Republican senators” out of office was also not in his prepared remarks. It was part of a brilliant riff where Clinton adopted a post-partisan tone—speaking fondly of GOP presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Reagan, and even both Bushes—while effectively doing the very partisan work of demonstrating that the Republicans have become hostage to rigid and uncompromising ideologues.”
Joe Klein at Time Mag says, “Bill Clinton talks about policy–about the substance of governing–better than any other politician I’ve ever heard. He keeps it simple and he keeps it accurate. He can make Medicare as dramatic as warfare. He did a major demolition job on the Republican Party’s economic policy tonight. He held it to the light of the facts. And it crumbled, as those of us who follow these things knew it would.”
And Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast is equally enthusiastic: “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.”
Even Scott Galupo at American Conservative says, “The case he made against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan was devastating. The speech was chockfull of soundbite-ready takeaways: “There they go again.” “We can’t afford to double down on trickle-down.” “One word: Arithmetic.” And there were substantive segments on Medicare, welfare, student loan reform, energy policy, etc.”
And Andrew Sprung at xpostfactoid offers what I can only hope is a truth: “What a giant enterprise. He set himself singlehandedly to counter a billion dollars in attack ads, to break through the core Republican lies and obfuscations.”
Anyway, after Bill’s speech, I quietly turn off the TV to absorb. And then I turn it back on and rewind it to watch again. It’s just that good. Go on. Watch it again.
Notes from elsewhere
And in the “Are You KIDDING ME?” Department, this from HuffPo: “On December 10, 2010, Ryan penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to recommend a grant application for the Kenosha Community Health Center, Inc to develop a new facility in Racine, Wisconsin, an area within Ryan’s district. “The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote. The grant Ryan requested was funded directly by the Affordable Care Act, better known simply as healthcare reform or Obamacare.”
Yeah. Uh-huh. Ad that to the list of hypocrisies.
And in other fascinating news, Gallup reports that Mitt Romney got almost no “bounce” from last week’s convention. Which either says that there’s no shifting to be had, or that was a pretty sucky convention. Guess which one I think is the case….
“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”