Thursday, September 06, 2012

"Big Dog" Bill Clinton knocks one out of the park

I can only join in the general appreciation on the Democratic side for Bill Clinton's convention address in Charlotte last night. Al Gore commenting immediately afterward on Current TV said he thought it was the best Clinton speech he'd ever heard. And that's saying a lot.

I especially like the part where he defends Medicare and Medicaid and refuted the Romney-Ryan-Republican lie about how Obama's projected savings of $716 billion from benefit enhancements amounted to theft from the Social Security Trust Fund. Defending Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are the strongest issues the Democrats could use against the current Republican ticket, and Clinton on Wednesday showed them how.

I've gotten to the place where I cover my face with my hands whenever I hear a Democratic politicians start talking about The Deficit. And last night's Clinton speech was no different. But he gave about the best case I think anyone could while defending the Obama Administration's position on the deficit and debt. He focused on ridiculing Romney's phony "deficit-reduction" plan and pointing out that the more seriously they take the cuts, the more damaging they would be.

It's part of the general failure of our political elites - and those in the European Union - that during this depression they are committed to essentially conservative, austerity-oriented economics. But, as Clinton pointed out so well, putting the Republicans back in the White House would mean a return to the very policies that produced a lackluster jobs picture in the 2000s and were the immediate prelude and cause of the crash of 2007-8.

David Dayen was impressed (Bill Clinton Manages to Trust America to Listen to 46 Minutes of Policy 09/05/2012):

He also said something I’ve been screaming about, the fact that, if Romney-Ryan give back the $716 billion to subsidies for providers and insurance companies, then Medicare goes insolvent by 2016. This is a very nuanced argument that no Democratic politician has picked up on really at all. It happens to be true. And the consequences are that Romney and Ryan would have to make cuts to current seniors on Medicare, and the only ones they’ve outlined would be explicit cuts to benefits.

And Clinton also laid forth on Medicaid, in very clear language, explaining the importance of the program and the big difference between the two parties on this, with Democrats wanting to expand it as part of the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans wanting to block grant it and cut it by at least one-third. ...

Bill Clinton's not perfect, and the person he spent 46 minutes nominating is not perfect. That justification isn't perfect – there are in fact ways to have spurred better economic performance than we got, for now and for the future. Hint: it has to do with the banks.

And I could point-by-point a lot more. But I want to say this. The legacy of clear, explanatory information about policy, about what people sent to Washington do, how they do it, and what it means for you, should not end with Bill Clinton. It’s important for engaging people with their government.
So was Charlie Pierce (Bubba Breathes the Convention Floor Like Oxygen, and the Democrats Make Their Case Not-Quite-Crystal Clear Esquire Politics Blog 09/06/2012):

Number One: Bill Clinton. At least 300 electoral votes. Against anyone. Tomorrow.

Number Two (and I say this as delicately as I possibly can): I would crawl on my knees naked through four miles of crushed glass just to listen, on a bad radio, to a debate between Bill Clinton and the zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan.

Number Three: Any reporter who complained about the length of that speech has no soul. There weren't four non-media people in the hall who wouldn't have sat there for another 15 minutes. I even didn't object — much — when Clinton started talking about The Deficit and shilling for the non-existent "Simpson-Bowles Plan." (There was no plan, I tell you!) There was as complete a merger of speaker and audience as you are ever going to see. More than any politician of the age, Bill Clinton inhabits a room and, at the same time, envelops it within himself. He breathes it in like oxygen.
Digby, who has been focused as well as anyone - better than pretty much everyone else, actually - on Obama's commitment to the Grand Bargain to cut benefits on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in exchange for essentially symbolic concessions from the Republicans strikes a more skeptical note in Tax collectors for the austerity state Hullabaloo 09/06/2012: "President Clinton's biggest dud of an applause line last night was when he mentioned Simpson-Bowles. It was stone cold silent in the room." That's really good news that not even the convention delegates in the middle of a world-class speech by the Big Dog were pretending to want to hear about that travesty of an austerity plan. "This won't win any votes outside the Village," she says, and she's dead right about that.

She also writes in The seductive referee Hullabaloo 09/06/2012:

But what's really made [Clinton] that "referee" figure is the fact that the right wingers have rehabilitated him as a way to show contrast with Obama. It's been hilarious to watch them fawn over a man they impeached and then sit in stunned disbelief when he once again comes out on top. It's been the pattern with him from the beginning and it's what drives them nuts. He seduces them too.

And, I confess, I have a soft spot for him for that reason. He provokes them so much and yet they can't help but fall under his spell. Watching Fox News pundits have apoplexy last night after they spent the past week cynically building Clinton up was undeniably enjoyable.
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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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