DNC, Day Two: The Big Dog

Ken AshfordElection 2012Leave a Comment

In case you missed it:


Almost universally, this speech was praised.  Even conservative Rich Lowry at NRO wrote:

I suspect the most effective part was near the beginning when he said no president could have turned around in four years the economy that President Obama inherited. He’s a great political litigator and although the speech went on way too long and was misleading on key questions, I like the instinct to make a wonky case for the president on substance (or at least to make a wonky rebuttal to the case against Obama on substance). I wish someone had given this sort of speech at the Republican convention, although shorter and more disciplined. 

It was indeed a very wonky speech.  It was supposed to be 28 minutes long; it went 48 minutes.  Clinton addressed, point by point, the Republican lies and defended Obama, pointing out that Republicans got us in this economic mess, and that nobody (including himself) could get us out in four years.

I didn't care for Clinton's speech, mostly because of his delivery and attitude.  He was all like Moses coming down from the mountain, a self-appointed deus ex machina.  He punctuated his points with phrases like, "Now, listen to me.  You gotta believe me…".  I recognize that he has been resurrected in the public's mind, but still… when someone says "you gotta believe me" so much, I tend to think that person a liar.  And Clinton, as we know, had a liar problem at one time.

But he left no stone unturned.  And he wasn't mean-spirited about the people.  He spoke well of Romney as a person.  He spoke very highly of both Presidents Bush — in fact, he praised them more than all the Republicans at the entire GOP.  But he simply pointed out the lies and fallacies that are the centerpiece of the Romney-Ryan campaign and commercials.

And he went off his prepared text…. a LOT.  You must look at the redline comparison done over at the Atlantic, contrasting Clinton's prepared remarks from what he actually said.  He riffed a lot.

But he was the Clint Eastwood to the DNC in a way that the actual Clint Eastwood was not.  Consider this:

Bill Clinton’s Top 10 Best Ad Libs From His D.N.C. Speech

Those of you familiar with social media might have heard tell that former president Bill Clinton’s 48-minute-long speech was about fifteen percent ad lib. For media members with copies of the prepared remarks, the address was something epic fight between the former president and the TelePrompTer, which, per design, stop rolling text whenever Clinton went off script. The machine simply refused to cede any ground to Clinton. Would it skip over paragraphs? Would it replace all his text with a frowning emoticon? The suspense was exhilarating! Below are man’s top ten triumphs over machine: Clinton’s most daring ad libs—phrases he inserted completely out of the blue.

10. “Are you listening Ohio and Michigan?”
9. “This Republican narrative, this alternate universe. . .”
8. “It passes the arithmetic test and more important, it passes the values test.”
7. “We gotta deal with this before it deals with us.”
6. “Democracy does not have to be a blood sport.”
5. “The old economy is not coming back.”
4. “Now you’re having a good time but this is getting serious and I want you to listen.”
3. “This is personal to me.”
2. George Washington was accused of being a “surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth.”
1. “You got to admit, it takes some brass to attack a guy for what you did.”

That's vintage Clinton.


So now we have two successful night, and Obama is sure to get a huge bounce from this convention.  Some pundits, after hearing Clinton, were ready to state that the election is over.  I wouldn't be so sure — the GOP has lots more money, and they'll get more disingenuous as they get more desparate.

But as for tonight, I don't think Obama has to clear the bars set by his wife and Clinton.  He just needs to get near them, an easy task for such a skilled orator.  And THEN maybe I'll say, the game's over.

UPDATE: FWIW, fact-checkers today are calling Clinton's many facts and statistics generally accurate.