Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quick Thoughts on Bill Clinton

I don't have time for a full post today, but wanted to provide some quick thoughts on last night's Convention.

Bill Clinton said everything that Barack Obama couldn't say.  The entire speech seemed like a textbook Closing Argument for the Defense (to pick up my analogy from last week).  Rebut the arguments from the other side while reasserting your strongest points.  Tell me Clinton didn't look like an "Old Virginia Lawyer" to you last night.  All he left out was "Well I'm just a poor Country boy from Arkansas, but even I can figure this out."

I thought the speech was very effective at getting to the nuance that President Obama's team wants to explain when telling the American public "We accomplished more than the Republicans would have you believe."  Democrats have been ignoring the "Stand on Your Record" approach and have instead gone full barrel attack on Mitt Romney, which is a strategy doomed to failure.  Anyone who has read any books about the last 20 years of Democratic politics will note that it is often Bill Clinton who will be the one to say "You're doing it wrong."

So what did he say?  He noted the areas that the Stimulus worked and why it was necessary.  He parsed down the GOP's attacks regarding Medicare and explained, in concrete arguments rather than fluff, how the $700 Billion "cut" to Medicare would not endanger Paul Ryan's Mom or any other Senior.  Most importantly, he explained why Government is not the enemy as the only person that has taken a stage over the past two weeks that has presided over a Budget Surplus (apologies if Clint Eastwood feels that he may fit that description as well).

Bill Clinton, and everything he represents, is something the Republicans will have a hard time responding to in the context of this election.  Everything they say they want to do (balance the budget, create jobs, spur economic growth), he did.  The Republican resume does not include the words "Balanced Budget" or "Surplus".  Only their cover letter.  Bill Clinton had many faults, and it was risky to have Slick Willie tell the American Public what's "true and not true", but he was a fiscal steward worthy of respect.  There are many responses and critiques of such a position, but those wishing to do so will either credit the previous administration(s) or Congress, which then brings on the question of who is to blame for the current state of things in America.

Convention speeches are too late and too long to have much of an effect on the public at large.  Last night competed with September baseball and Wednesday Night Football (Dear NFL - women are going to revolt if you keep moving these games further into the week).  But if this Convention is indicative of how the Obama campaign is going to design its message, the Democrats have strong footing for the next six weeks.