In the second-day Charlotte convention gathering of Democratic political connoisseurs, it was imperative that the speaker selected to enter Barack Obama’s name into nomination for a second term hit just the right notes. The most obvious and appropriate selection was the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton. The former wunderkind boy-governor of Arkansas and President Emeritus has recently surged in popularity in his mid-60’s and has aged into just the right vintage for this gathering of newly-confident Democrats.
Vintage Clinton’s speech was most like a 1946 Rose’. A subtle mix of scold, sass and olive branch, with the taste being just the right blend of acidity and moderation. His illuminations were an aromatic bouquet of optimism and dare I say, “Hope and Change.”
To say Bill Clinton delivered a barn-burner or stem-winder of a speech on this night would be doing his address an understated injustice. In his long political career, he may have equaled this speech, but there was no way he could have surpassed it. In the artful TV panning of the audience, it was like the observers were enraptured…especially the women. They were in the moment in love with this man. For all his relationship shortcomings with the opposite sex, it’s always been this way.
Clinton has had this Casanova-like connection with women that goes well beyond the physical. For all his faults, women trust Bill Clinton and they believe Bill Clinton. And when Bill tells them to vote for Barack Obama, these women will vote for Barack Obama. It’s the same with minorities. He connects with blacks and Latinos at the deepest levels, again based on trust. You may say that both women and minorities were going to vote for Barack anyway and in large measure you would be right. Where the Clinton speech was at its most vital was in what politicians call GOTV; “Get Out The Vote.” It’s irrelevant that support for Obama is guaranteed within certain voting blocs. If they don’t go to the polls, Obama loses. Clinton will get these people to vote on November 6th.
Clinton was a combination teacher and preacher Wednesday night. His dissection of the health care plan was masterful. It was explained in layman’s detail where there could be no mistaking that it’s repeal would be a supremely ignorant move and devastating to the population. Clinton pointed out that’s just what Mitt Romney intends to do. The former President’s breakdown of current and past employment numbers was equally impressive and he did what should have been done in bold capital letters a long time ago. He gave the Republicans full credit for the mess they created, largely by comparing Bush economic numbers and ‘accomplishments’, and emphasizing the fact that the rebuilding process was a two-term job. He handled other major issues like Medicare and Medicaid with equally definitive élan.
In addition to Clinton’s masterpiece, Sandra Fluke gave a wonderful, albeit short, address on women’s reproductive rights and Elizabeth Warren talked as well. I’m a huge fan of this accomplished woman, but her speaking skills fell short of the very high bar set in this convention. This shortcoming at the podium could be troublesome in her senatorial race with empty-suit incumbent, Scott Brown, who already leads by 5% in the latest polling.
At the end of Bill Clinton’s phenomenal effort, the President made an appearance and hugged the husband of his Secretary of State. Clinton had made a special point of Barack Obama appointing Hillary to the position in spite of their acrimonious primary battles.
If you’re keeping score, Clinton has given the speech of the convention, followed closely by Michelle Obama. I’d put Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick in third. For his closing night acceptance speech, Barack Obama faces that convention speech high bar, but you can bet he’s more than up to it.
So let us raise our Clintonian glasses high – “Here’s to November 6th.”