Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Can Obama Top Clinton's Tour de Force?: UPDATE

President Bill Clinton's speech last night was declared a "tour de force" by Steven Benen on The Maddow Blog. He "sizzled" according to Jason Easley at Politicususa.  "It was bipartisan — a bit like giving someone flowers at the same time you're taking a scalpel and dissecting them," according to former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

One GOP strategist even remarked that Clinton's speech was the "moment that probably reelected Obama." Matt Lattimer writes:
Here’s why I think Clinton’s speech was successful: He did what almost no one at the Republican convention tried to do, what few conventions bother to do anymore. He treated the American people like thinking human beings.
Squirming like a snake in a pit, a Romney campaign spokesman spoke with forked tongue, or double speak, or whatever the hell you call their gibberish:
"Bill Clinton worked with Republicans, balanced the budget, and after four years he could say you were better off," Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams wrote. "Barack Obama hasn’t worked across the aisle – he’s barely worked with other Democrats – and has the worst economic record of any president in modern history.
"President Clinton’s speech brought the disappointment and failure of President Obama’s time in office clearly into focus,” Williams continued.
Huh? Were they listening to the same speech the rest of the world heard?

What can I say? I thought the man hit the ball out of the park and sent it sailing around the world in high speed definition. Stunning. Stupendous. A real slam-dunk -- right into the laps of the GOP.

And after it was over, a tender moment:

And tonight?

Their deliveries are very different. Maybe after all the obstructionism, lies and ugly racist and personal attacks over the last few years, Obama would be justified in coming out slinging -- except that's really not his style, whether we agree with him or not. He's more the "walk the high road" type, I think.

Clinton delivered one of the best nominating speeches I've ever heard -- taking down the GOP talking points, point by point and lie by lie. I think Obama will probably focus on the future, playing on peoples' hopes instead of their fears, playing on their humanity and not their hate, and moving forward, not backward.

Rather than making comparisons, maybe we should just recognize the fact that Clinton and Obama compliment each other very nicely at this time in our history.

Of course, Republicans really want to move backward -- not just to the 1950s but all the way back to the days before talking movies and videos, especially after something like this surfaces.

I think Obama will probably focus on the future, playing on peoples' hopes instead of their fears, playing on their humanity and not their hate, and moving forward, not backward. (see above)
Obama succeeded in doing just that. Even though I asked if he could top Clinton, I don't think it's the right question or even a fair question. The President's speech and Clinton's were, as predicted, two entirely different speeches with different styles, different messages, and different objectives and goals.

I don't even think it's fair to compare Obama's 2012 DNC speech to others he's made. The man is only human and he can't just go on topping himself speech after speech. He's damn good but he ain't that good.

He sort of stumbled coming out of the gate before hitting his stride, but once he was off and running, it was sheer beauty in motion. Still, it wasn't as fiery as his 2008 speech. Instead, it was more subdued, more reflective and more measured in tone and delivery. Maybe it wasn't a home-run as speeches go, but I think it showed a man who has grown and matured over the last four years, a man who has the strength to look at his weaknesses and mistakes, reassess them and make the necessary corrections.

Most importantly, his speech highlighted the vast differences not only between the two parties but how the two choices will impact on the future of our country.
On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America.
No, it wasn't a great speech but it was a vitally important one.


  1. I absolutely loved Bill's speech. I also loved Al Al Sharpton's comment that both Elvis and Bubba were there last night! LOL

    This has been one of the best conventions I can remember!

  2. Castellanos may be only slightly exaggerating. It will be very interesting to watch the polls, not so much after the convention itself, but after the Democrats start using parts of Clinton's speech in ads. He seems to have provided a counterpoint for just about every lie and distortion and obstruction in the Republicans' arsenal.

  3. Your analysis is spot on. Bill was definitely a hard act to follow. Obama's speech was good, but did not pack the punch that Bill's did. Obama's speech almost reminded me of his inaugural speech 4 years ago.

  4. Thanks for all the excellent comments. I'm getting ready to update this just slightly, so will refrain from adding anything for the moment. Wow. This was the week that was, though, wasn't it?

  5. Stating the obvious here but Obama didn’t really need to top Clinton’s speech.

    A lot of people are nostalgic for the relative prosperity of the 90s and Clinton spoke to that. Most of his speech was aimed at bread and butter issues and GOP falsehoods and obstructionism and set the tone of staying the course. He did what we down under call ‘the head-kicking’. He was saying ‘look at what a bunch of loons these people are’ which then set the stage for Obama to come on looking exactly what he is - a moderate – while at the same time putting forward the idea of ‘mutual obligation’.

    And, Leslie, I was smiling while I wrote that because that phrase is actually a CONSERVATIVE credo here.

    Obama did the social stuff, the warm voice, the vision of plurality and as I noted on Green Eagle’s blog he was very emphatic about women having the right to make their own choices… about the A word and the C word… and left anyone not irredeemably Right wing in no doubt that the other side does not represent the best interests of women.

    It was a relay event and they did it to perfection.

    1. The whole show was a home run. As I've said on FB and elsewhere:

      "Instead of a sea of white with a few symbolic African Americans, aka tokens, a few bought Latinos, there is real diversity: men and women of ALL shades, of ALL ages, of ALL races, of ALL faiths or not, of ALL economic backgrounds - students, housewives, farmers, factory workers, businessmen and women, teachers, firemen, veterans, etc. This is what it's ALL about."

      The DNC galvanized Democrats. No longer can the MSM refer to the enthusiasm gap. You can see this in the increase of volunteers coming forth to work phone banks, getting people registered and whatever else. I think it was the shot in the arm we needed. And the debates will be the final nail in the GOP's coffin.

    2. Exactly!!!! I'm working on the Obama campaign here and everyone is working very hard. It helps that this is probably the best and most considerate campaign that I've ever worked on -- my email is flooded every day with "atta girl" notes! It keeps me going. Yesterday I was signed up for three hours of data entry and wound up at HQ for five hours because I was needed. I only went home because burnout was setting in. Bottom line is that I like and need my Social Security & Medicare & can't risk losing them.

    3. "Atta girl," Kay. Keep up the good work. It's folks like us who do the grunt work who can make a difference.

  6. For the uninitiated, the buzz phrase for the Obama campaign is
    : Fired up!!! Ready to go!!! It's usually uttered at top volume.

  7. "Were they (Republicans) listening to the same speech the rest of the world heard?"

    So many of them are steeped in their culture of anger, resentment and paranoia, their perception of reality so skewed by being steeped in their own propaganda that they probably didn't hear the same speech.

    In the late 1950's someone wrote a revealing article about one the reasons it was so difficult to deal with the Russians: perceptions. Russians' perceptions had been warped by decades of propaganda, to the point where when our diplomats and negotiators used certain terms, what registered in Russians' minds was something quite different from what our people thought they were communicating.

    For example, the term "free society" was perceived by Russians as meaning one in which people were free to be as reckless and irresponsible, even criminal, as they wished. And, just enough news of crime and movie stars having adulterous affairs, of swindlers and such was allowed in Russian media to substantiate those notions.

    Given decades of right-wing noise machine and Republican Party propaganda so many on the right are steeped in, a lot of right wingers probably took much of what Clinton and Obama had to say as code for all sorts of devious and bad things.

    1. "Given decades . . ." I have to hand it to the fright-wingers. Their well financed and well organized propaganda machine has, to the detriment of the country, been amazingly successful. Only during the last couple of years are we really beginning to see the fruits of their labor. Worst of all, even if Obama manages to win, it's just going to get worse -- and not just because of the propaganda. We're dealing with people who know no bounds, people who will go to any lengths to win, people who want absolute control -- and they will stop at nothing to get it. It's discouraging and frightening because I don't know how we can effectively or successfully counter it.

  8. That's a very interesting comment, S W Anderson.