Last night, Former President Bill Clinton nominated Barack Obama for president and addressed the Democratic National Convention. For 48 minutes. It was an exceptionally long speech, but he had a lot of ground to cover.
Full disclosure: I'm not a fan. I harbor lingering resentment of President Clinton for his efforts to avoid military service and for his treatment of women in his personal life, including his wife. But over the years, I have gained a grudging admiration for the many ways in which he has served (and continues to serve) his country.
So it was somewhat of a surprise to me to find that I was genuinely interested and attentive throughout his speech. I may not be moved to throw my panties at him, but I was moved by his inclusiveness and the spirit of cooperation he espoused.
President Clinton is more effective than most politicians when it comes to getting into the policy weeds. He cited compelling facts and figures with ease, illustrating where President Obama and the Democratic Party have succeeded -- and where Republicans have failed. For example:
[S]ince 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 [million].
The recovery act saved or created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people.
[M]ore than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents’ policies can cover them [due to the ACA].
Republican economic policies quadrupled the national debt in the 12 years before I took office [in 1992] and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left [2000-2008].
The Fact Checker at the Washington Post refutes some of President Clinton's arithmetic ("arithmetic" trended on Twitter during his speech, which generated over 22,000 tweets per minute at its peak) and two other Post writers sort fact from fiction on the economy and Medicare, but by and large there wasn't much to factually correct. Pretty impressive for a 48-minute speech in which substance far outweighed rhetoric and platitudes.
Wonkiness aside, President Clinton's speech made me feel as if there's hope for Republicans and Democrats to resume cooperation. He spoke highly of Presidents Eisenhower, Bush 41, and Bush 43 -- and elicited applause for Bush 43's support of PEPFAR and their work together in the wake of natural disasters.
Let me repeat that -- President Clinton had an arena full of Democrats cheering for President Bush. That's a testament to the inclusiveness of the party and its commitment to cooperation, and it's something you'd never see at the Republican National Convention (and I suspect Republicans are proud of that).
image via CNN