Thank you, Bill Clinton.
I sat on my couch transfixed by the man last night. I found myself leaning toward the television listening, as Bill spun his web and captured millions of people– if Twitter is any indication– with not only his endorsement of President Obama, but the repudiation of not only the policies of the GOP, but the hatred of the President that emanates from the right that controls the Republican party.
And that energized me. Clinton’s acknowledgment not only of the hatred which comes from that party, but that the hatred is not only absolutely unnecessary but completely unproductive.
There are millions of us wandering around the country, who feel politically homeless. We are for balanced budgets, more fiscal restraint and identify with Republicans on those points. However, we don’t feel comfortable with less government that means jettisoning the elderly or the disabled, but just enough government to regulate what people do in their homes, and what women choose to do with their own bodies. Those people feel middled. We’re not comfortable with the right– foaming at the mouth against all things Obama, which makes them seem, well, crazy. The right that confuses jingoism with patriotism, to steal a phrase from Eric Zorn. And we’re unsure about the spending of the left. Can we afford to do that? Where do we go?
Clinton’s speech attempted to bring those people in. His speech went back to his days in the Democratic Leadership Council, his days as the leader of the New Democrats. The days when he attempted to redefine the Democratic Party as one that was fiscally responsible while progressive socially. A party that believed in the safety net and wanted to strengthen it, but did not intend that net to become a hammock.
He resurrected his New Democrat themes and spoke to people who like the President as a man, but have been pummeled with fear and hatred from the right so long that it starts to resonate– at the very least through osmosis. The millions that don’t hate Obama, but are unsure about him because we are in fear of the future.
And Bill Clinton spoke to those people last night. He told a story and did so in a way that only Bill Clinton can. Although he was in a room speaking to thousands of people, hundreds of miles away from my couch, I felt like I was on a porch in Arkansas, in a rocking chair with lemonade, and this former president was talking directly to me.
And here’s what he told me: Brian, I know you’re upset with the president. Your friends and neighbors– hell, America– lives in fear. Fear of the unknown in terms of where this economy is and where it is going. But Brian, it’s better than four years ago and I’m fixin’ to tell you why.
But Brian– don’t live in fear. You can’t give in to what the Republicans are selling: fear and hate. You are right, the economy is doing so much better than it was when President Obama took office. Remember all the bank failures, the question of whether the American auto industry – not only Detroit, but auto parts makers around the country that need Detroit– would survive? 750,000 jobs lost a month? Remember that? You really think this job growth and expansion– albeit slow– is worse than that?
Brian! Wake up! Republicans admit that the last president royally messed up the economy. Now they are mad at the president for not cleaning up the mess fast enough! And their plan to clean it up is to go back to the policies that got us there! That takes some brass!
Brian! They are lying to you and they admit it! They run a campaign that will not be encumbered by fact checkers! At least in one instance, they are telling the truth! Don’t give into lies and hate.
After his speech, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of pity for Republicans. Because in his speech, President Clinton clearly defined his legacy. Can you imagine George W. Bush speaking to the Republican National Convention for 48 minutes? Would you want to sit though that? Bill Clinton might be the best speaker since FDR and he certainly used his skills to the direct benefit of President Obama last night. He energized the base and probably had some of the undecided voters out there nodding their heads. It was an excellent speech, not only for the content, but the folksy manner in which it was delivered. It wasn’t eloquent, it wasn’t preachy, but it was honest. His honest assessment of the choice before us in November.
He had me questioning the wisdom of the 22nd Amendment last night. I don’t think I was the only one.
Filed under: National Politics