No More Drama: Bill Clinton Makes His Case for Obama

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Bill Clinton

Cover Photograph by Marco Grob / Trunk Archive for TIME

Charlotte, N.C.

Bill Clinton has given some awkward convention speeches in his day. There was his infamous 1988 keynote address, when the young Clinton had too much to prove and spent too much time proving it: “B-O-R-I-N-G! B-O-R-I-N-G!” jeered the crowd, until he declared, “In conclusion … ,” at which point it cheered. There was 2000, when Clinton’s presence at Al Gore’s coronation so soon after his impeachment was a garish distraction. Eight years later, Democrats chewed their nails as Clinton spoke on behalf of Barack Obama, the man who had just defeated the 42nd President’s wife in a battle whose wounds were still raw. It is a measure of how much doubt there was about Clinton’s support for Obama that his speech that August night featured several variations of the phrase “Barack Obama is ready to lead”; Clinton, after all, had just spent the better part of 18 months arguing otherwise.

Democrats close to Clinton and Obama say that on Wednesday night, there is no reason for awkwardness. Although tensions remain between the current and former Democratic Presidents (and their allies), Clinton no longer needs to convince people that he believes Obama can do the job. On Wednesday, his mission will be to explain to voters why Obama’s policies will do more than Mitt Romney’s to improve their lives.

(Download: The CNN-TIME Convention Floor Pass Mobile App)

Clinton will do so in methodical, even wonky terms. At age 66, he is less an impassioned rabble-rouser anyway; he has evolved into a grandfatherly, almost professorial figure. And he’s most comfortable when he’s describing complicated ideas in simple terms. “It won’t be red meat,” says a former Obama White House hand who has ties to Clinton’s circle. “It will be an almost prosecutorial case.”

There could be no greater testimony to Clinton’s exalted ex-President status than the fact that both the Democrats and the Republicans have featured him in their ads. Romney invokes Clinton’s record of reforming welfare to attack Obama for supposedly weakening the work requirements, as if he has somehow failed to honor the New Democrat theology; Obama, meanwhile, has featured Clinton in multiple ads and a campaign documentary narrated by Tom Hanks.

(MORE: The Presidents Club)

Democrats say Clinton has already previewed Wednesday’s message, both in private fundraising appearances with Obama and in the recent television ad he taped for the President. (Title: “Clear Choice.”) At the heart of the case is Clinton’s own legacy. Obama represents the promise of returning to the good old days of the 1990s, when Clinton was in the White House, the economy was booming and Americans of all classes were reaping the benefits. “He speaks to the economic prosperity America enjoyed when Democrats were last in charge,” says one Obama-allied Democratic operative in Charlotte. “He is uniquely positioned to talk about the prosperity we had in the ’90s.”

Clinton and Obama’s shared vision of that prosperity is based on balancing the budget through higher taxes for the rich, while sparing the middle class and the poor from deep cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The 1990s economic boom, which began soon after Clinton signed a budget that Republicans blasted for enacting “the biggest tax hike in history” has always been one of the left’s most effective retorts to conservative warnings that higher taxes suffocate economic growth.

(MORE: Obama on Partisanship and Getting Things Done in Washington)

Clinton will also remind voters of what came after him. He often reminds his audiences that he left a budget surplus for George W. Bush, which soon became a massive deficit. Stepping off a plane in Charlotte on Tuesday, the party’s 1988 nominee, Michael Dukakis — arriving without an entourage after sitting in coach near the back of the plane — may have previewed the case that Clinton will make. “We don’t want to elect a Republican ticket that wants to go back and do what Bush did that got us into this mess in the first place,” Dukakis said. “The last thing in the world we need is more tax cuts for the wealthy and vouchers for Medicare. This is Herbert Hoover economics all over again.” Dukakis said Clinton is “much admired and respected by Americans” and that his support for Obama would be “an enormous asset for the campaign.” Dukakis, who has not exactly been embraced by the party since his defeat, will not be speaking at the convention this week.

If, as expected, Clinton celebrates his record from the 1990s, it will be quite an irony. Obama’s 2008 primary campaign was predicated largely on the idea that Clinton’s presidency had been a disappointment — too little real change, too much work left undone. Clinton found the critique maddening. In May 2008, Clinton groused that Obama “has said for months and months … that really there wasn’t much difference in how America did when I was President and how America’s done under President Bush.”

How times have changed. On Wednesday, Bill Clinton is likely to make virtually the opposite argument. And no one will applaud him more than Barack Obama.

MORE: Secrets of the Presidents Club: How Bill Clinton Learned to Salute

72 comments
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Williams Jackson
Williams Jackson

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Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

What is there to be praised? During the Obama administration, Americans have experienced deep economic recession and widespread unemployment. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, is not going to save American economy. He didn't see the last financial crisis coming, and even after things started falling apart he continued to insist that housing prices would not go down and that Americans would not have a recession. In handling foreign policy, Obama is a total failure. Taking advantage of Obama’s weakness, Putin is trying to revive the former Soviet Union. He has the temerity to send the Russian sub to the Gulf. Clinton intervened in Serbia in spite of opposition by Beijing and Moscow. Obama is mainly responsible for the bloodbath in Syria. If he is hesitant to intervene directly due to the opposition of China and Russia, he could have armed Turkey and the rebels. Cameron and Serkozy boldly intervened in Libya and saved several thousand lives. Obama has allowed the terrorist group, Muslim Brotherhood, to flourish both at home and Egypt. Obama has given several billions of dollars as loan to Egypt, while America itself is reeling under heavy loans. Egypt is now evolving into another Iran and Mursi another Khomeini. Already under President Morsi's first two months, Islamists have become more emboldened—whether by pressuring women to wear the hijab, by killing a Muslim youth for publicly holding hands with his fiancée, or by disseminating flyers that call for the total genocide of Egypt's Christian Copts. The flyers include the names and contact points for those Muslims who wish to collect their rewards for killing Christians. Another term for Obama will be disastrous for America and the world. He will destroy Israel by having surreptitious dealings with Iran. 

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Big daddy Bill put his nearly hour long blessing for Barry and Barry's polices to date.

Basically, a bigger badder more crushing debt laden government.  Never mind that during Clinton's years the government was drastically scaled back.  That doesn't matter now.  

Now we can let the fact checkers do their work.  I'm betting nearly half of what Bill said were simply LIES.  But, in order to back a failed Presidency, Billy didn't have any other choice.  

The day that Bill will carry this country "forward" will be the day he11 freeze over.

MACV
MACV

Here is what truly amazes me. A Democrat, President Clinton brought prosperity and fulfillment to America.  We then turned around and put a "dimwit" Republican into office and he almost destroyed our country. In fact he pushed America to the point where "we would rather have a black man as President."  

What in the world is happening to Americans? Almost half of us want to allow a Republican back into the Presidency TO FINISH THE DESTRUCTION OF AMERICA !

I have my passport and if this election "goes south", I going overseas and keep Mitt Romney's money company ...

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Don't let the door kick you in the arse on the way OUT

paulejb
paulejb

MACV,

Bye! Have a nice trip.

18235
18235

Bill is looking more and more like w.c. fields.

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull---w c fields

paulejb
paulejb

Before the folks get all starry eyed and high on hopium listening to the ol' Horndog wax eloquent about the good old days, before Monica's dress got stained, lets look at the record courtesy of Charles Gasparino.

"Bubba amp; the housing bubble"

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/o... 

Bill Clinton's fingerprints are all over the mortgage meltdown of 2008.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Yes they are, together with the GOPers that made it happen.

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

It was GWB and John McCain who attempted to put the brakes on, but it was too little, too late.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Not really - they we're not going to do anything about the legislation passed that caused the majority of the problems. Subprime mortgages was but a small part of the issue.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

I don't think even Bill Clinton can help Obama in this race.

Very Interesting

 

5 Toss Up or leaning Obama States Now Moving Towards Romney according to RCP.

 

Electoral College 9/5/2012

 

Obama – 221---- Toss Ups – 126 --- Romney – 191

 

Winning possible combinations

 

Obama 171

Romney 161

Tie ………32

 

Comparing changes from May 9, 2012 to Sept 5, 2012

 

………..5/9/2012…………………..9/5/2012

 

NV -- leaning Obama……………Toss Up

AZ –- Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

MO –Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

WI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

MI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

 

Good trend for Romney. Bad trend for Obama.

 

http://www.realclearpolitics.c...

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

Bill doesn't like Obama or his polices very much.

He will be the good solder and do his part as a loyal democrat but I think he could care less if Obama win re-election. Actually I believe he would  not mind seeing Obama lose.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Gee, God makes a miraculous return to the Democrat's platform.

Make no mistake,this is just a ruse and sham by the leadership of this EVIL political party.

annevincent
annevincent

"Slick Willy" Clinton did more to upend Democratic principles and causes than any other President in modern history. It is infuriating that so many Democrats (and other Americans) don't get it. Is the memory that fragile and fleeting? Are the media so intent upon fantasy and feel-good nonsense that they continue to insist upon feeding us a constant diet of revisionist history? Where is the context of what NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall did to us?  Where is the honest representation of this uber lobbyist with his mansion in Dubai, and his mega-millions of "speaking and consulting" fees  obtained while selling out our government to the highest bidders? This placement of Clinton onto the platform of political deities is utterly revolting, and the product of "spin" and media hype.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Anne

You will never convince the liberal media. In their world someone as disgusting as Bill Clinton is a God

apr2563
apr2563

https://twitter.com/Adenovir/s...

Take a look at this chart to learn which party has had more success with the economy.

More charts:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/...

"...when it comes to which political party is best for the American economy, it's not the GOP. It's not even close."

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

When you add up all the debt it is BOTH parties who are at fault for this economy. Barry had his 4 years, it is time for new leadership

apr2563
apr2563

Amusing.  Pundit gossip that echos through the beltway.  Clinton-Obama have tense relationship.  How do they know?  Those anonymous sources.

Also, you have to know the hypocritical Reps don't admire Clinton.  They spent 8 years trying to bring him down. 

filmnoia
filmnoia

The only person that the Reich Wing hates more than the Clintons is Obama, only because of his darker complexion. Of course, it's in Bill's best interest to do what  he can with white working class voters (the  Hillary  08 voters) to get Barack re-elected. An outreach to those voters now will prep them for Hillary in 2016.

f_galton
f_galton

Clinton is exceptionally good at lying, so he's the obvious choice to defend Obama's record.

Kevin Groenhagen
Kevin Groenhagen

So the Dems are going to allow a serial adulterer and rapist to speak? So much for the GOP's war on women.

filmnoia
filmnoia

You're just jealous of his popularity with the voting public, and the fact that you are friendless.

apr2563
apr2563

This is what any notable Dem does to the rw.  The vile starts spewing out.

paulejb
paulejb

apr2563,

I like Bill, sure he's a lech, but he's not the first lech to occupy the White House.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

As Bill descends upon the DNC Convention tonight.  Here is a little video reminder for those who have not yet been brainwashed.  Please turn off your TV's.  Play a game with your children.  Take a nice walk.  Read a good book.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

kms123
kms123

In November the voters have a clear choice: Democracy or Plutocracy. Take your pick.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Bill should come out in a nice blue dress in Drag.  That would get this crowd going!!

Dean_Martin
Dean_Martin

And if the truth will set us free, Bill why don't you come clean on the instrumental role you played during your administration in killing the last provisions of the Glass Steagal act allowing the banks to speculate on another one of your policies of increasing home ownership ( incorrectly claimed by Bush) to those who couldn't afford the payments by subsidizing fannie and freddie mae....

I don't we are going to hear that one are we, Bill.....

superlogi
superlogi

If you want to know which direction a person is heading, just look where he came from.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 Says the unemployed accountant who confuses book-keeping with economics.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

I agree, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama worked hard their whole lives to get where they are.  Mitt Romney was born into wealth and had his life handed to him, just like he thinks he deserves the Presidency.

superlogi
superlogi

Frankly, I don't believe either Clinton or Obama worked.  What they did was act and it shows.  However, I was discussing the economy and the direction the country was heading under the present leadership.  But, I'm glad you brought up their work habits, since it appears Romney's were much more stringent.  At least, as far as we know.

What is a vulture capitalist other than a term coined by a witless moron?

A witles moron produced enough wealth that his investors decided to reward him with a quarter billion in wealth. The guy has produced more jobs and productivity than the big eared buffoon can even promise. Good by now collectivists. You are a boring bunch. My only suggestion is, you learn to count. After that, we maybe able to have an intelligent conversation.

filmnoia
filmnoia

Actually you just insulted the voters of Texas, who elected the witless moron who used the term - Rick Perry. You and Perry are birds of a feather.

Eric Hauptman
Eric Hauptman

A "vulture capitalist" is one who produces nothing, makes a nice profit, and leaves behind nothing but the bones and rotted corpses of formerly successful businesses and their workers.  It seems a very apt term.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Yeah, being a vulture capitalist is the very definition of stringent.

teedoffwithObama
teedoffwithObama

Obama is no Clinton Hillary would of fixed Bushes mess Obama accelerated our countries woes.

Diecash1
Diecash1

 Brilliant commentary [/snark].  Your proof for such a ridiculous assertion?  Oh, that's right.  You don't need any proof, just outlandish and unfounded assertions.

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

I have met a novelty.  A liberal (???) with right wing logic and thought processes.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Or a 'Winger with the ability to lie shamelessly... who'd have expected THAT?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Since she's in his Cabinet, isn't that precisely what she's doing?

teedoffwithObama
teedoffwithObama

No but if she would of won in put Obama in her cabinet would of been more precise.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 Reading your posts, I would not have thought that precision was of much concern to you.

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

"Are we better off today?"  Actually we are far better off than we were with Bush-Cheney who stubbornly catered to the 1% and arrogantly took the 99% for granted ... and that is what they actually want to return to.  Bush-Cheney and the Republican / Tea Party took us to the crisis point in several areas as they belligerently focused on serving only the few and just giving the majority subterfuge to rationalize and deceive, literally taking the people for granted as if "pawns" to be manipulated at their will.  Today the Republicans are teamed with "big money's" power, influence and financial support and being emboldened by past successes they are cocky confident in their ability to deceive, to control and sway voters, to first, fault Obama for all problems, second, to have acceptance for their goals which deceptively always benefit only the few and last, to support a return to "more of the same".  Can we really endure "more of the same", Bush-Cheney style?

This list is just some of the deceptions included in "more of the same", without elaboration, and simply assuming that the arrogant and insulting, grossly self-serving and belligerently dishonest nature of the issues will be remembered.  Remember: the multiple tax cuts heavily weighted for the wealthy; Global Warming stated as not a problem; private accounts recommended for Social Security; the actual minimized/ignored warnings before 9/11 while concentrating on Iraq; trumped up justification for attacking Iraq; abandoned effort in Afghanistan; Afghanistan presented as secure; the false coalition with America paying 95%+; Iraqi oil money never paying for the war as was proposed; pressure put on the intelligence community for finding justification; including the authorized departure from Geneva Convention rules; frequent misrepresentations to manipulate public opinion; no bid contracts ($100B's) to favored vendors; responsibility for port security offered to Dubai Ports; always excusing the growing deficit and unfavorable trade deficit in serving only the interests of "the money"; the apathetic reaction to the hurricane Katrina aftermath; blocking bringing less costly American drugs back into the US; vengefully exposing the CIA agent's identity; squelching the "wiretapping without court order" story; falsely raising the security threat level before 2004 election; 

.... the excessive deregulation and lack of any responsible oversight favoring the few and resulting in unchecked greed, gross dishonesty and criminal self-indulgence eventually bringing down the financial industry; encouraging the deportation of American jobs and taxes; the policies greatly favoring the oil companies; the sociopathic GWBush falsely presented as a "born again Christian";  ... and then after Bush-Cheney: the Republican's concentration on their political ambitions above all else; stubbornly obstructing and faulting all efforts to address problems; irresponsibly withholding any bipartisan cooperation; aggressively intimidating and coercing their own representatives to force unity; supporters organizing, directing and funding the Tea Party movement, like the "Swift-boat" propaganda and the manipulation of the conservative Christian all aimed to deceptively excite and sway public opinion; the constant catering to the interests of "the money", no matter what it costs the people; the absence of a conscience or real support for women's rights; the presenting and backing of Ryan's budget heavily favoring "the money" and costing the majority; ... continuing on and on, without any conscience and always aimed to benefit only the few, their supporters and controllers, while insultingly taking the people for granted as just "pawns" to be used and abused.  

It isn't a difference in philosophies.  The real deception is in their concentration on serving only the few while taking the majority for granted.  These elections are not about Republican versus Democrat, they are not about "conservative" versus "liberal", they literally are about "the money" versus the people, about whether the voters will be conned, used and continually be abused when giving "the money" the control they seek in electing their "puppet" politicians ... or will the people be strong enough and with the clear vision to cry out "no more" and reject the propaganda aimed to control them, reject the "puppet" politicians who will only serve their own ambitions and "the money's" interests and thus firmly reject the control "the money" has over government.  Today the Republican / Tea Party, in alliance with "the money" as their masters, is steadily pushing for this country to be a two-class society with the 1% competing in having it all while the 99% continues to struggle.  It is really up to the voters.  Can they see through the mega-bucks being spent to con and control them or will they be manipulated into supporting "the money's" interests against their own interests?  We will have to wait and see but just as "you can't get blood from a turnip", because there just isn't any there, all that is there in today's Republican /Tea Party is what is listed above.