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September 06, 2012

Reactions to Clinton's Speech

Bill Clinton gave an extraordinary speech at the Democratic National Convention last night. If you missed it, the Daily Beast has clips of the five best moments.

Joe Klein: "I can't think of any politician who talks as good as Bill Clinton. Certainly, no politician has ever been able to unpack and explain dry, complicated policy nuances in as juicy and entertaining a manner. The folks at Fox were speculating that the speech was overly wonky and maybe a lot of people got bored and turned off their televisions. Wishful thinking, no doubt. That's what they always said about his epic State of the Union filibusters-and they were always wrong. People like listening to this guy. He's informal, and informative, in a way that Obama, sadly, has never been able to be-otherwise the folks would have known all that good stuff about the health care plan, and the stimulus plan. But then, Obama's in good company: as I said, Clinton's the most compelling policy wonk I've ever heard. And there is no second place."

Andrew Sullivan: "I never liked Clinton but it is now pure churlishness to cavil at his remarkable skills. He is able to reach middle class voters with clear argument, grasp of detail and narration of history that very few others can. If Obama has said that his main failing in this campaign is that he hasn't told the story of the past few years well enough, then it is surely fitting that it was the husband of his former rival and former president Bill Clinton who finally told that story."

Joshua Green: "But Clinton's true purpose was to serve as attack dog, explainer, translator, and above all validator of Obama's presidency and fitness for another term. With party icons such as Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton absent or departed, Bill Clinton's presence here looms even larger than it did four years ago, when his endorsement of Obama, delivered to the party faithful in Denver, healed the bitter divide between his wife's supporters and those of the man who had just bested her."

Howard Kurtz: "Whether out of conviction or political convenience, Clinton demonstrated anew a skill that Obama barely possesses, to translate complex policy arguments into simple human terms. And his starpower also guaranteed maximum media attention on the evening after Michelle Obama drew praise for her highly personal speech."

Will Wilkinson: "As for form, no living political figure can match Mr Clinton's rhetorical ear, improvisational lability, or daemonic audience connection. As for content, Mr Clinton's typically overstuffed address packed in more policy detail than the entire GOP convention, all while maintaining a coherent narrative thread. A few tendentious points aside, it was a masterful speech which redeemed an otherwise embarrassing night for the Democrats."

Chris Cillizza: "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. But, if you are a student of campaign politics -- like we are -- what you watched tonight was the work of someone with massive natural ability in the political arena."


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