Democratic demi-god Bill Clinton brought the house down Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention. And, despite concerns to the contrary, he managed to redirect the spotlight onto President Barack Obama. For the most part. Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Brought Back Fleetwood Mac
Clinton was introduced with a video backed by “Don’t Stop” (Thinking about Tomorrow), the tune he and Al Gore grooved out to back in the day. He walked on stage to the same song, and it came back on at the speech’s conclusion. It felt like 1992. And 1977.
2. He Looked Good
Man, the new Vegan Clinton is so much skinnier than the red-faced fatty he used to be when he was president. If you haven’t seen him in a while he looks like a new man.
3. He Focused on Obama
From the get-go, Bubba talked about Obama and set the stage for the speech as a nomination first and foremost. “We are here to nominate a president. And I’ve got one in mind. … I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside. … I proudly nominate him to be the standard bearer of the Democratic Party.”
4. He Has His Eye on Michelle
“I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama,” Clinton said. (Pan to Michelle, grinning uncomfortably.) Don’t get any ideas, Bubba.
5. He Settled the (Jobs) Score
In the last 52 years, Clinton said, the record for job creation (based on president in power) is:
• Republicans 24 million
• Democrats 42 million
“It turns out advancing opportunity and economic empowerment” is both morally right and economically sound, he said.
6. He Likes Ike
Contrasting his cooperative spirit with the current partisan Republican climate, Clinton cited his appreciation of Republican deeds, including Eisenhower’s dispatching of troops to integrate the high school in Clinton’s native Little Rock, Arkansas. He said he’s been honored to work with both President Bushes on natural disaster relief. “What works in the real world is cooperation,” he said. “One of the main reasons we should re-elect Obama is he is still committed to constructive cooperation.”
7. He Plugged Hillary
Continuing on the cooperation kick, Bubba referred to Obama’s appointment of several cabinet members who had supported Hillary in the primary. “Heck, he even hired Hillary!” And Clinton dropped her name a few more times: “I am very proud of her. … I’m grateful for the relationship (she developed with Obama) and the signal that sends to the rest of the world … (that) Democracy … can be an honorable enterprise that advances the world interest.”
8. He Evoked Reagan
Clinton totally pulled a “they’re they go again” Reaganism when talking about the Republicans’ plans.
9. He Answered the Big Question
The GOP has been having a field day with “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Clinton brought it up and hit it head-on. He said when Obama took over “The economy was in freefall, losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes.” He continued, saying “no president, not me or any of my predecessors, could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. … He has laid the foundations for a new, modern successful economy, a shared prosperity. … You will feel it. … I believe it with all my heart. I believe it.” (Earlier, Clinton, famous for “It’s the economy, stupid,” described the Republicans’ position on Obama thusly: “We left it a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough so fire us and put him back in.”)
10. He Talked about Paul Ryan’s Balls
He cited Ryan’s attacks on Obama’s Medicare savings and noted that Ryan has a nearly identical dollar-amount of savings in his budget: “When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as a ‘biggest coldest power play,’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.” But, he said, you gotta give Ryan one thing: “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
Below is the transcript of Clinton’s speech, as previously prepared. The real speech was much longer. Clinton often went off-script and spoke for a whopping 50 minutes! It was waaaay long, and Obama had to kill some time behind the curtain waiting for Bubba to wrap it up.
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