Last night, Democrats and the nation at large were treated to a virtuoso performance by one of the world's most admired and adored leaders. President Bill Clinton brilliantly made the case for re-electing President Barack Obama.
The speech ran 48 minutes. Everyone in my living room (all three of us) was glued to the television. Even when President Clinton delved into the intricacies of national health care and budgetary policy, he managed to distill his words such that they conveyed the essence of the issues without overwhelming his audience. That's one of his great strengths as an orator.
There were a couple parts of the speech in particular that resonated:
Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.Here, President Clinton addresses the ugliness roiling within the Republican party. He used the word "hate." I've found that this is the best way to deal with bigots: cast aside the euphemisms and snide comments and call them out. They never know how to respond when you do that and it exposes them as the fearful nothings they are.
By invoking the names of Republican presidents, President Clinton reminded his audience that the GOP was once a proud and noble party, but that now it is something else.
They hated Bill Clinton, too. But they hated Clinton because of his policies and because he bested them in everything. They hate Obama not only for his policies, but because Obama is an affront to their tribal sensibilities. How else might we interpret the constant questioning of Obama's legitimacy, of his citizenship, of his faith? As President Clinton points out, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Republican Party.
(I'll admit, when he invoked Junior's name, I felt my gorge rising. Junior is beyond redemption.)
In order to look like an acceptable alternative to President Obama, they couldn’t say much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years. You see they want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to increase defense spending two trillion dollars more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend the money on; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids. As another President once said – there they go again.Here, President Clinton channels Ronald Reagan to point up the vacuousness of the policies advocated by the GOP. That's gotta sting.
At the end of the speech, President Clinton summed it all up with this advocation.
If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility – a we’re-all-in-this-together society – you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.It's now apparent why Mitt Romney baffled everyone by dropping out of sight in the interval immediately after his "night of triumph" in Tampa last week. That warmed over hash he offered up looks pretty darn unappetizing after the steak dinner President Clinton served last night.
There are some things that non-delusional humans know never to do. Never argue the meaning of a word with Gabriel García Márquez. Never challenge the wisdom of Oprah Winfrey. And never engage in a political debate with Bill Clinton.