A compilation of analysis and reaction to Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention.
Joe Klein was seriously wowed:
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.
Scott Galupo calls Clinton’s speech “yet another virtuoso performance from a man whose political talents, however at times infuriating and mendacious, you can’t help but wish were deployed on your side’s behalf”:
Earlier this week, I argued that former President Bill Clinton would aim his convention address primarily at fence-sitting whites. I was wrong. He did more than that. He did everything, and he arguably did it better than President Obama has ever done in his own right. … Clinton’s wasn’t just a speech aimed at wavering whites — although it certainly was that (many g’s were dropped, and the president referred to himself as a “county boy” at one point). It was aimed at seniors, women, and young people, and, with its riffs on voter ID laws and Medicaid, immigrants and minorities and people with disabilities.
Will Wilkinson applauds:
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 admires Clinton’s political skills:
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.
Michael Barone hopes the speech will overshadow Obama’s:
The Obama campaign in giving Clinton such a lead role risks making Obama look small by comparison. But evidently the campaign strategists think there are some serious weaknesses they need to shore up.
Holy smokes. That was the best political speech more or less ever. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t touch on, and there wasn’t a thing he didn’t just blast out of the park. His carriage and delivery nailed it for partisans and for persuadables. He hit Republican obstructionism. He slammed the Romney and Ryan plans on virtually every point they’ve raised in the last six months, from the welfare ads to the tax cuts to the Medicare “cuts” to so much more, and he did it in detail.
Andrew Sprung sees the purpose of the speech:
Well, it took Bill Clinton a long time to get to the heart of his speech. But what a mighty heart it proved to be. What a giant enterprise. He set himself singlehandedly to counter a billion dollars in attack ads, to break through the core Republican lies and obfuscations. …The written speech is tighter than the spoken one. But when he got to Obama, he delivered a more robust and detailed litany of his accomplishments in office than any prior speaker. And when he got to the GOP proposals and attacks, he spoke as if his own legacy, and the country’s future, were on the line.
And Ed Kilgore thinks small:
If nothing else, this speech should convince Team Mitt to take Clinton’s image out of their mendacious ads.