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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in East Timor, watching former President Bill Clinton delivering keynote at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in East Timor, watching former President Bill Clinton delivering keynote at the Democratic National Convention.
Negative responses to Bill Clinton's speech in Charlotte Wednesday night were few and far between in the traditional media and major on-line media. Some got in some digs at President Obama by saying some version of the idea Clinton made a better case for Obama than Obama himself has done. The Washington Post collected numerous responses from its staff, including opinion writers in a section headlined: Say What: Bill Clinton makes case for Obama. Among the details:

Dan Balz and Philip Rucker:

Former president Bill Clinton delivered a spirited defense of President Obama’s handling of the nation’s struggling economy here Wednesday night, criticizing the agenda and philosophy of Mitt Romney and accusing the Republican Party of ideological rigidity and an unwillingness to compromise. [...]

Clinton said the most important question voters should ask is what kind of country they want in the future. “If you want a winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own, you should support the Republican ticket,” he said. “If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility — a we’re-all-in-this-together society — you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Naturally, Mitt Megaphone Jennifer Rubin found nothing good in the speech (though she admitted it was the best of the evening) and spouted remarkable claims such as:
No empathy or bitten lip is shown for [people in poverty], or for the more than 8 percent of unemployed Americans (and millions more underemployed or who have stopped looking for work).
Under the headline of Bill Clinton: Trust Me, the Jobs Are Coming, Josh Barro at Bloomberg wrote:
Bill Clinton offered a brilliant and detailed defense of Barack Obama’s record on economic policy tonight. The speech was long and had almost bizarre levels of detail on job training, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare reform, and most every other major area of the federal budget. [...]

The conventional wisdom is that Medicaid is a losing issue for the Democrats. But Clinton’s case for Medicaid is succinct, sympathetic and persuasive, and I expect to start hearing it more often.

At Politico, John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin wrote How Bill Clinton does it:
Some of the effective elements of Clinton’s address were impossible to miss—his ease on stage, the sheer theatricality of the performance. But Clinton scored in Charlotte for reasons that go beyond superficial style and reflect the essence of the Clinton political brand.

The speech was a vivid illustration of why Clinton survived so many disasters in office, and, even 12 years out of power, remains more effective than most politicians of the succeeding generation.

At the Weekly Standard, beneath the headline Clinton Delivers Bang-Up Address, Fred Barnes wrote:
In his fondest dreams, President Obama couldn’t have imagined getting any more from Bill Clinton than he did last night at the Democratic convention. Rather than pull Obama toward his centrist policies, Clinton embraced Obama’s hyper-liberalism—at least for one night.

Despite his well-known differences with Obama, Clinton made a stronger case for the president’s reelection than either Obama or his campaign have been able to muster.

Joe Klein at Time on The Clinton Speech:
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 tonight. 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 don’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 tonight, but he also did his country a service by making crystal clear the baloney-slicing at the heart of the Republican argument.

In a round-up piece headlined Democratic National Convention Night 2: Winners and Losers, Chris Cillizza at The Fix:
He was the explainer-in-chief without seeming too preachy. He was full of Southern aphorisms without being hokey.  And, perhaps most importantly of all, Clinton was quite clearly having a very good time — and he let it show. He adlibbed. He played with the crowd. He smiled and laughed. And, yes, he went on a little too long.

Aaron Blake wrote Bill Clinton: The smiling assassin:

Littered throughout Clinton’s speech were sharp jabs at the GOP. And each one of them was delivered with an easy smile on his face that belied the stark charges.
At The New Republic, Tim Noah noted under the headline, Clinton is Better Than Obama at Explaining Why Obama is Better Than Clinton:
The underlying awkwardness here is that Obama, even if he never gets re-elected, has already achieved more--simply by passing Obamacare—than Clinton did in eight years. In his speech, Clinton waited too long to make the health care argument for Obama's re-election, but when he made it, he made it intelligently and forcefully.
Bill Clinton Forms Barack Obama's More Perfect Union wrote John Nichols at The Nation:
It was a remarkable performance by a political wunderkind turned senior statesman. And it provided a powerful reminder that in the ex-president competition—and there is an ex-president competition—Bill Clinton has defeated George Bush, overwhelmingly.

Where two weeks ago, Bush was the former president whose name dare not be spoken at his party’s national convention, Clinton was more than a revered elder returning to the warm embrace of his party’s convention: he was a defining figure.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 07:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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