Last night, Elizabeth Warren spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The Massachusetts Senate nominee was quite a speaker—her invective against the Republicans was strong, and her impassioned support of the middle class moved the audience.
But she had nothing on Bubba.
You might be too young to remember why everyone loved Bill Clinton. It had something to do with the economy, sure—but the man is an exceptional speaker. He’s possibly the greatest orator of his generation: his speech last night felt like he was talking to you one-on-one. Not only that, but he spoke for 48 minutes about some really complicated substantive policy, and the audience was hooked. If any one speech will re-elect Barack Obama—and it won’t—Bill Clinton’s came the closest. Check it after the jump:
(Here’s glorious HD.)
The rest of the day was hit-or-miss. DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, responding to GOP pushback, moved to vote in a clause into the Democratic party platform that specified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was basically a non-issue—despite huge Republican uproar, Obama is an arguably strong Israel supporter (though feel free to disagree in the comments), and the party platform is utterly meaningless—but Villaraigosa made everyone look dumb by surprising the convention, then basically passing it himself:
Not the Democratic Party’s best logistical moment. Whatever your feelings on Israel are – unanimous support, right? – that was a lame move by a party chairman, and he got booed accordingly.
There was also this beautiful piece, in which a Representative ventured into preacher territory:
But then Clinton closed the night and sealed the deal. In his speech, which made bipartisan support seem totally in line with beating the Republicans in November, he articulated every single piece of policy with which the Republicans were using against themselves. He was able to balance extreme empathy and unprecedented explanatory ability. “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did,” Clinton drawled, combining colloquial familiarity and pithiness to basically state the whole “Republicans are lying” slogan better than anyone else. Because with that line, he made the idea that an entire party is cynically lying to win sound perfectly reasonable- he made that line palatable to moderates, which is something Warren will never do.
Clinton spoke twice as long as he was given, spending lots of his time on potentially dreary subjects like welfare statistics. He even slipped in a line about voter suppression, his words to accuse an entire party of unethical electoral practices so casual they will never start controversy, and meanwhile, kept the focus entirely on Barack Obama. His speech was not balanced; really, it’s just as partisan to criticize an entire party platform as it is to be criticized by it—but it contrasted the substantive policy issues of both platforms, and that’s more than supposedly-”wonky” Paul Ryan ever did in his speech. Bill Clinton is the master, and we’re just excited that Hillary may run in 2016 just so he can give another stump speech.
In a virtuoso performance, Clinton effortlessly outlined three main horror-movie scenarios in case the Republicans won, based on his “arithmetic ” of the Republican plan:
- The Republicans pay for tax cuts with eliminating tax deductions that will hurt you and your family.
- The Republicans pay for tax cuts by slashing all of your favorite programs (national parks, Pell Grants, EPA, infrastructure).
- The Republicans just explode the debt, just like they’ve always done.
Your Latin teacher was crushing hard during that dude’s peroration, when he spat out:
“I love our country – and I know we’re coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we’ve always come out stronger than we went in. And we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor – to form a more perfect union.”
To top it all off, the President surprised the crowd with an impromptu walk-on hug to Clinton. And they actually don’t like each other that much! Adorable!