In the Arena

The Clinton Speech

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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 on Wednesday night. He held it to the light of the facts. And it crumbled, as those of us who follow these things knew it would. After all, we’ve had 30 years of data: supply-side economics doesn’t work, tax cuts for the wealthy are more likely to encourage the purchase of dressage horses than the creation of new jobs.

He did Barack Obama a service on Wednesday, but he also did the country a service by making crystal clear the baloney slicing at the heart of the Republican argument. Where to begin?

(MORE: Bill Clinton Makes His Case for Obama)

Well, I was watching Fox News for a bit afterward, and those guys just didn’t know what to say. Brit Hume went back to Monica Lewinsky. Steve Hayes said the fact-checkers would be working all night on the speech. He was being a bit disingenuous: Steve’s a good reporter, and he knows that every last statistic in the speech was accurate. We all know the numbers. We all know the facts. Paul Ryan did indeed propose the same Medicare savings that Obama included in the Affordable Care Act. Obama did indeed grant waivers to Republican governors to find better ways to increase employment among those on welfare — and promised to rescind the waivers if they didn’t produce results. We also know — and Clinton didn’t bother to go here — that Mitt Romney enacted the same sort of individual-mandate health care system that Obama did, and that it’s working very well, thank you, in Massachusetts.

If there is a controversy about the speech, it will involve this statement:

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.

I believe that with all my heart.

That is a matter of opinion rather than fact. But here’s a hunch: the American people will trust Clinton on this one, just as they stuck with him during the Lewinsky scandal (and the scandalous Republican impeachment attempt that followed). They’ll trust him because he always had their back, because he produced prosperity — while raising taxes — and balanced budgets. He governed as well as he talked.

(PHOTOS: Democratic National Convention 2012)

Although I must say, I can’t think of any politician who talks as good as Clinton. Certainly, no politician has ever been able to unpack and explain dry, complicated policy nuances in as juicy and entertaining a manner. The folks at Fox were speculating that the speech was overly wonky, and maybe a lot of people got bored and turned off their televisions. Wishful thinking, no doubt. That’s what they always said about his epic State of the Union filibusters — and they were always wrong. People like listening to this guy. He’s informal and informative, in a way that Obama, sadly, has never been able to be — otherwise the folks would have known all that good stuff about the health care plan and the stimulus plan. But then, Obama’s in good company: as I said, Clinton’s the most compelling policy wonk I’ve ever heard. And there is no second place.

Oh, and by the way, here’s the Romney campaign’s official reaction to the Clinton speech:

President Clinton drew a stark contrast between himself and President Obama tonight. Bill Clinton worked with Republicans, balanced the budget, and after four years he could say you were better off. Barack Obama hasn’t worked across the aisle — he’s barely worked with other Democrats — and has the worst economic record of any president in modern history. President Clinton’s speech brought the disappointment and failure of President Obama’s time in office clearly into focus. —Ryan Williams, Romney spokesman

Does that reflect the speech you heard? Does it acknowledge Clinton’s citation of Senator Mitch McConnell’s odious statement at the beginning of the current presidency that his No. 1 priority was the defeat of Obama? The reality once again is that Republicans stonewalled Clinton’s 1993 economic plan just as they’ve stonewalled Obama. That’s partly why Clinton was so passionate in Obama’s defense. The Republicans were every bit as intransigent toward his proposals as they’ve been toward Obama’s. The most disappointing thing about the Romney campaign is how often it insults the intelligence of the American people.

MORE: Smart Things Bill Clinton Did in His Speech

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JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Only President Obama and the Democrats PROTECT America's MIDDLE CLASS. VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

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life5678
life5678

I watched the entire speech live, and as an independent I have to say Clinton seemed creepy, like a used car salesman trying to sell me a lemon.  You just had this feeling he just wants to get in your pants. And I just can't get past the fact that he was impeached for lying to a grand jury about having an affair in the WH with a teenage intern. Or how he settled with Paula Jones for $850,000 to cover up his sexual harassment, or his 12 year affair with Gennifer Flowers, or the several rape allegations. I thought the democratic party stood up for women, not subject them to painful memories of a philandering pedophile megalomaniac rapist.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yes the facts and arithmetic are confusing. If Clinton is a Used Car Salesman that what is your impression of people like Romney and Ryan that just want us to purchase their lemon of a social, fiscal and foreign policy agenda without showing us the CarFax?

Educatio
Educatio

Clinton Care can make better than obama care

CurlyMoeLarry
CurlyMoeLarry

Pres. Clinton used WMD... the truth! Abit over the the top for the republicans.

LaNell McKiever
LaNell McKiever

I really don't agree with Clinton on this one because I have heard comments from him about Obama in the past, which means at one time or another he is not speaking truthfully but I guess we have heard conflicting stories from him before.  Check out my profile picture and I guess I will still have to claim him since he is from Arkansas and has done a lot for the United States and Arkansas.

Chiku Misra
Chiku Misra

Since Klein wrote a fawning book about Clinton anonymously and then lied when asked about it, it's understandable his praise of Clinton here would be over the top.  It's not that Clinton does anything so amazing;  he just happens to discuss policy over personalities.  Unfortunately, in the cesspool of Washington, that is unfortunately viewed as some sort of amazing thing.  

Clinton can't speak in terms of personalities or morality or character anyway, because the entire world knows he has no morals.  I agree he's extremely smart, and a good teacher.

max4374
max4374

Joe, I always liked you because you have mostly come across as even-handed to both sides.  But I must say thank you for finally coming out full-throated against the fallacy of equivalency.  I am glad that it took the passion and reason displayed in this convention to show you the vivid contrast between the two parties.  I hope you keep it up.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Just reported on NPR:   Markets up 244 points to 4 year highs today. Momentum is building for Obama.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

So who's going to get the blame now that Romney has been destroyed?

 

1. Tea Party 

2. Romney 

3. Ryan 

4. Limbaugh 

5. 1-4 

6. Eastwood and his chair 

7. Blacks "who block vote" (lol) 

 

I am betting the RepubliKKKrappers are going to go for 7, not willing to learn from their own mistakes.

They'll say Romney wasn't conservative enough and go full-on fascist in 2016.

life5678
life5678

 Destroyed? keep drinking the blue kool-aid. BTW the KKK was founded by democrats and is still a southern democrat organization. google it pinhead.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yep Southern Democrats who joined the Republican Party in mass, once the Democratic party championed civil rights.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Note to RepubliKKKrappers: Sorry, guys...I did my best. I searched the

internet for days and I just cannot find any report that Bill Clinton

was ever arrested, or surrendered for, or was even ever charged with

rape. Maybe that's because rape involves an UNWILLING victim...or

under age? What do you think?

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 

WHY REPUBLIKKKRAPPERS ARE

SENSITIVE ABOUT THE WORD “RAPE”

 

Republican County Commissioner

Patrick Lee McGuire surrendered to police after allegedly rmo1esting

female_adolescents between the ages of 8 and 13. 

Republican prosecutor Larry Corrigan was arrested

for soliciting sex from 13-year old female_adolescents. 

Republican Mayor Jeffrey Kyle Randall was sentenced

to 275 days in jail for rmo1esting two male_adolescents -- ages ten and 12 --

during a six-year period. 

Republican County Board Candidate Brent Schepp was

charged with rmo1esting a 14-year old female_adolescent and killed himself

three days later. 

Republican Congressman Mark Foley abruptly resigned

from Congress after "sexua!!y exp!icit" emails surfaced showing him

flirting with a 16-year old male_adolescent. 

Republican executive Randall Casseday of the

conservative Washington Times newspaper pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from a

13-year old female_adolescent on the internet. 

Republican chairman of the Oregon Christian

Coalition Lou Beres confessed to rmo1esting a 13-year old

female_adolescent. 

Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd pleaded

guilty to charges of soliciting sex from an 8-year old female_adolescent. Floyd

has repeatedly won elections for Denton County, Texas, constable. 

Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest

to fondling a 10-year old female_adolescent and was sentenced to 10 years

probation

Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo was arrested

for having sex with a 5-year old male_adolescent. 

Republican petition drive manager Tom Randall

pleaded guilty to rmo1esting two female_adolescents under the age of 14, one of

them the daughter of an associate in the petition business. 

Republican County Chairman Armando Tebano pleaded

guilty to fondling a 14-year-old female_adolescent. 

Republican teacher and former city councilman John

Collins pleaded guilty to sexually rmo1esting 13 and 14 year old

female_adolescents. 

Republican campaign worker Mark Seidensticker is a

convicted child rmo1ester. 

Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a

37-year sentence in federal prison for sexua!!y_ abusin 8- and 10-year old

female_adolescents. 

Republican Mayor Tom Adams was arrested for sending

out kiddie-porn over the internet. 

Republican Mayor John Gosek was arrested on charges

of soliciting sex from two 15-year old female_adolescents.

life5678
life5678

 And in Detroit we have Kwame Kilpatrick, Bob ficano and a bunch more, so what's your point.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

It's strange and a bit disquieting how all the usual "conservative" comentators have gone-silent in this thread...kinda like when farm animals start acting funny before a major quake (no offense to farm animals intended).  I certainly feel like last night's speech was a game-changer, but am admittedly biased. 

So, I'll ask the question again...did Clinton shoot holes through the RR platform last night (as I feel to be the case), or was he just shooting blanks?

life5678
life5678

It just took them a day to get over the shock that the democrats would be desperate enough to have Obama nominated by the only president impeached for lying to a grand jury about having an affair in the WH with a teenage intern. The one that settled with Paula Jones for $850,000 to cover up his sexual harassment, the one that had a 12 year affair with Gennifer Flowers, the one accused of several rape allegations. They thought the democratic party stood up for women, not subject them to recurring painful memories of a philandering pedophile megalomaniac rapist. Maybe you believed Clinton, but the rest of America didn't believe a word he said and for good reason. oh ya, to answer your question, by the look of Monica's blue dress, I doubt that he is shooting blanks.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 You observe that it is "strange and a bit disquieting" that all the kneejerk commentators are silent, suddenly.  The day after Clinton's articulate, fact-filled, reasoned speech.  Do you really need to ask whether he was shooting blanks?

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

I have to admit that when it comes to sucking up to Bill Clinton, Joe Klein could give lessons. Not often you see this level of bowing and scraping

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

This is indicative of the kind of critique that is coming from the right today.  Kinda like..."your car sucks because it's blue".  No substance.

gingerpye
gingerpye

What can they say? They know they were owned.

NavyMom21
NavyMom21

Their "official reaction" is delusional!  Who ARE these people?

VinceLackner
VinceLackner

I'm a big fan of Joe Klein, but the word "good" below jumped right out at me:

"Although I must say, I can’t think of any politician who talks as good as Clinton."

How about "well"? :-)