If fact checking is put aside and we simply accept President Clinton’s speech in the moment, it was a hell of a speech, classic Bill Clinton. But as the famous finger punctuated his arguments the flash back to and reminder of his ability to parse the truth beyond recognition was unavoidable.
Opinion is rampant in terms of the effectiveness of President Clinton’s speech. This opinion is that President Clinton set out to do three things; to, once again, elevate his own status, to be seen as facilitating an Obama re-election and to clearly demonstrate his reported contention that President Obama is an amateur. This speech did those things. Clinton made the arguments on behalf of President Obama that the Obama campaign just can’t seem to make effectively.
The Obama team may have heaved a sigh of relief that President Clinton hit the menu of Obama campaign talking points: education, ‘investments’, the impact of inequality, economics etc. But Clinton made some other points as well. He urged ‘constructive cooperation’, intimating that it has been absent. He talked of ‘seizing opportunities’ for cooperation. Ironically, President Clinton made those arguments as excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book chastise President Obama for his inability to close the deal on cooperative efforts. According to Woodward in the aftermath of the 2010 election the President’s staff could not even find John Boehner’s phone number.
Bill Clinton parsed the arguments as no one else can, facts and omissions notwithstanding. In President Carter’s video Carter delivered the message about how hard it is to be President. President Carter offered an elegant argument excusing President Obama’s failures and shortcomings because it’s ‘so hard’. If you’re going for failure justification President Carter is your guy; he’s been at it for over 30 years. President Clinton also excused President Obama; “no one, not me, not any of my predecessors could have fixed this economy in four years.” That may or may not be true but the numbers say the argument does not hold water in the context that most feel the economy was made worse.
Bill Clinton promised us that we would soon ‘feel’ the impact of President Obama’s economic policy. There is that feeling thing again. He avoided the fact that we have been ‘feeling’ it for some time now and it doesn’t feel good. No mention of household income, housing values, foreclosures, unemployment, poverty and the 70% who think we’re on the wrong track.
President Clinton artfully avoided the fact that he wrote an entire book on economic policy this year that disagreed with President Obama on a fundamental level. The Big Dog parses on!
Jay Leno joked the DNC had a serious lighting problem; they could not get President Obama out of President Clinton’s shadow. The shadow grew longer last night.