President Bill Clinton gave a well-received speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina that will probably go down as one of the best speeches of a former president at a national convention. The speech went a bit long at around an hour in length – certainly no one ever accused President Clinton of being succinct – but he gave an impassioned defense of President Obama, a critique of the Republican misinformation machine, and the case for four more years.
Photo by Robyn Beck of AFP
While Michelle Obama’s job last night was to reach female voters, President Clinton was tasked with shoring up undecided and apathetic working class white voters. Perhaps he more than any politician in either party has credibility on economic issues. The 1990s saw the largest economic expansion in American history. That made his job all the more important to remind voters that four years ago when President Bush was in office the economy was bleeding nearly a million jobs a month. This year it has been adding around 150,000 jobs a month on average. Private sector job growth over the past two years alone has been robust at over 4.5 million.
His job wasn’t only to defend President Obama’s record on the economy. It was also to argue that Mitt Romney’s economic plan is just a rehash of the same trickle down economics that got the country into the Great Recession in the first place. He then mocked the fact that the Republicans are proposing $4 trillion in tax cuts in their plan to cut the deficit. As President Clinton pointed out, it goes against the laws of arithmetic. You would either have to cut spending to the bone, putting at risk everything from national defense to Medicare, or you would simply just explode the deficit.
Then President Clinton ripped into Republican claims that President Obama stole from Medicare. As the former president pointed out, Paul Ryan’s own budget would keep the cuts in waste, fraud and abuse that Obama signed into law. But by repealing Obamacare in its entirety, as Romney and Ryan have proposed, they would undo the savings and extended life of Medicare, as well as the thousands of dollars in savings that seniors now enjoy thanks to the closing of the donut hole for prescription drugs.
The only negative – if you want to call it that – of Michelle Obama and President Clinton’s speeches are that it will be tough for President Obama to upstage either of them. Both the First Lady and former president put on dazzling performances that will rally the Democratic base and persuade moderate voters to choose the Democratic Party over the extremist positions of the Republican Party. If President Obama can manage to do just that, you might as well book your tickets for the inauguration.