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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

The best Clinton speech ever; Gov. Markell says Mitt Romney has said he LIKES to fire people: Totally False, according to Politifact

Considering I usually get up for work around 3:45 or 4 in the morning, I often fall asleep before the big acts at political conventions get on the stage. Of course, these days, I can later retrieve clips -- or entire speeches.

But, I sometimes have a knack for waking up - or staying up - when memorable political moments occur on the tube. An example I'll always remember goes back to when Senator Edward Kennedy was challenging Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Roger Mudd asked the Senator from Massachusetts, "Senator, Why do you want to be President?", and Kennedy stammered and basically found himself unable to answer the question. I was suddenly wide awake and listening to every word. (This is also the classic textbook example in the art of the interview: Sometimes the most basic questions are the most difficult questions)

Fast-forward to Wednesday night. I stayed up to watch at least the first few minutes of Bill Clinton's speech. (Incidentally, this was the first time in U.S. political history that an ex-President nominated a President for re-election. This attests to Mr. Clinton's heightened popularity.)

Only a few sentences into the Clinton speech, I could tell I wouldn't be shutting off the TV. This speech was going to be exceptional, the absolute prototype for the extraordinarily delivered political speech. Plus, it was loaded with content. Even wonkish. Mr. Clinton was clearly enjoying himself. And typical for Mr. Clinton, it went too long.

But I agree with the pundits and analysts of Right and Left: The former President delivered a more effective, spirited defense of the Obama Presidency than any other Democrat - including Mr. Obama himself. This is going to be interesting, since Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have often assailed President Obama by comparing him to Bill Clinton: The former Arkansas governor was the "good", bipartisan President in contrast to the current one. (No matter that Kentucky's Senator Mitch McConnell famously declared very early that "Making Obama a one-term President is my single most important political goal.")

Mr. Clinton didn't get into the culture wars and feminist issues that preceded him. Point by point, the former President delivered a scathing critique of Republican talking points. Early on, Mr. Clinton tried to separate recent Republican Presidents and G.O.P. leaders from the current Romney--Ryan ticket and current G.O.P. Congressional leaders. Indeed, Mr. Clinton extolled the virtues of reaching across the partisan aisle. The underlying conclusion: Today's Republicans, forced further Right by the forces in their own party, are far removed from that tradition. No more Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil schmoozing after hours and finding common ground. Indeed, that seems like so many moons ago.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr. Clinton - or falls somewhere in between - you had the finest recent example of high political oratory. Bubba magic.

Even Fred Barnes at The WEEKLY STANDARD writes:

"In his fondest dreams, President Obama couldn't have imagined getting any more from Bill Clinton than he did last night at the Democratic convention. Rather than pull Obama toward his centrist policies, Clinton embraced Obama's hyper-liberalism -- at least for one night.

Despite his well-known differences with Obama, Clinton made a stronger case for the President's re-election than either Obama or his campaign have been able to muster. And some of the claims Clinton made for the Obama presidency go beyond what even the White House has asserted -- well beyond."

But Barnes later asks whether Mr. Clinton "actually believes half of what he said." Barnes also argues the pro-business, moderate and conservative Clinton wing of the Democratic Party has all but evaporated.

I happen to think Mr. Clinton was most effective refuting Republican claims that President Obama robbed Medicare to pay for his health-care overhaul.

And on the grand economic debate of our times: "No President -- not me or any of my predecessors - no one could have fully repaired all the damage in just four years."

Not that many people pay very much attention to platforms, but Democrats cleaned-up two platform controversies that had already provided fodder to the Republicans: Convention delegates reinserted a reference to God, and okayed changes declaring Jerusalem as the preferred capital of the State of Israel. However, convention chair - L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - had to call for a vote three times before he could rule the Jerusalem platform language had passed. (It's an open question whether they booed because they disagreed with the Jerusalem language itself, or whether they objected to muscular tactics from the convention chair.)

Finally, let's talk about Governor Jack Markell:

I always pity the politician who lands a speaking slot after another popular speaker. In this case, our Governor followed a nun, Sister Samone - leader of the nuns on the bus who have targeted Romney-Ryan for projected cuts in the social safety net. So the cable networks (the broadcast networks, pre-10 p.m., were still broadcasting their regular entertainment shows) went to commercials and their pundits. I had to "search" for Governor Markell, and ended-up on C-span. A safe bet: Even most of the political junkies outside Delaware missed Governor Markell's speech.

Predictably, Governor Markell characterized himself a "proud, card-carrying capitalist". The Governor declared former Governor Romney's kind of business experience didn't qualify him to be President. But Markell also declared that when it came to jobless workers, "Mitt Romney likes to fire people". I winced. You can fault Mitt Romney for seemingly paying little attention to the human cost of cutbacks at companies commandeered by Bain Capital. You can suggest that safeguarding jobs is hardly the objective of a private equity firm. It is what it is. But suggesting Mitt Romney has said he LIKES to fire people? The Pulitzer-Prize-winning Politifact fact-checking website declared that 100% false.

Before someone comments that Romney once said, "I like being able to fire people"- indeed, an unfortunate construction - one must recall the context, which is absolutely vital.

Here's the full Romney quotation, from BUSINESS INSIDER:

"I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don't like what they do, you could fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone isn't giving the good service, I want to say, 'I'm going to go get someone else to provide this service to'."

(Some Romney critics still argue a person would never say "I like being able to fire people" in this context, UNLESS they were psychologically comfortable with saying that... that indeed, firing people was their M.O. If you decided not to renew an insurance plan, cable service, magazine subscription, etc., you'd probably say you had dropped it, stopped using it, etc., but NOT say you had "fired people" at that service!)


This column from The WASHINGTON POST beautifully captures President Clinton's speech; the practical function of such speeches; and one particular political debate -- about tax cuts and deficits....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/the-big-dog-shows-how-its-done/2012/09/06/0455d90e-f7d9-11e1-a93b-7185e3f88849_blog.html


Another interesting analysis, this time from Timothy Noah in The NEW REPUBLIC...


http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/106965/clinton-explains-why-obamas-better-better-obama-can


Posted at 8:37am on September 6, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

EarlGrey
Thu, Sep 6, 2012 10:58am
I watched some of former-president Bill Clinton's speech...and yes he is a great speaker but I would love to hear what he honestly thinks about the current president (especially after what Obama did to Hillary in '08 and what he has now done to Bill's welfare reforms)

Before someone comments that Romney once said, "I like being able to fire people"- indeed, an unfortunate construction - one must recall the context, which is absolutely vital.
Thank you for once again being a fair/balanced newsperson Mr. Loudell :)

EarlGrey
Thu, Sep 6, 2012 11:07am
"...but Democrats cleaned-up two platform controversies that had already provided fodder to the Republicans: Convention delegates reinserted a reference to God, and okayed changes declaring Jerusalem as the preferred capital of the State of Israel. However, convention chair - L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - had to call for a vote three times before he could rule the Jerusalem platform language had passed. (It's an open question whether they booed because they disagreed with the Jerusalem language itself, or whether they objected to muscular tactics from the convention chair.)"

The booing and loud NO votes began before the "muscular tactics" were applied and got louder once the vote was pushed through after multiple attempts to call Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Shouldn't they have been forced to call for a hand count to settle the issue?

Shawn
Thu, Sep 6, 2012 11:42am
"Shouldn't they have been forced to call for a hand count to settle the issue?" -- EarlGrey

I thought the same thing during the RNC:
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/boehner-booed-at-convention-as-chaos-erupts-on-convention-floor-over-ron-paul-delegates/

"Before someone comments that Romney once said, "I like being able to fire people"- indeed, an unfortunate construction - one must recall the context, which is absolutely vital." -- Loudell

Agreed! Much the same way the Romney campaign should consider the context of Obama's "You didn't build that comment" before using it in campaign spots. Alas, political ads from both sides don't care about context, only sound bites.

EarlGrey
Thu, Sep 6, 2012 11:53am
I thought the same thing during the RNC:
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/boehner-booed-at-convention-as-chaos-erupts-on-convention-floor-over-ron-paul-delegates/
~Shawn

Yep, I thought the same thing for the RNC/Ron Paulers.

But, I will have to disagree on the "you didn't build that" quote...if you listen to the complete comment from Obama he indeed meant you owe everything to government. I am however sick of hearing the quote used over and over and over.



Mike from Delaware
Fri, Sep 7, 2012 8:17am
Good point Shawn and EarlGrey about the voice count for both DNC and RNC.

I'm not a Ron Paul supporter, but sure didn't get why the RNC didn't want those folks at the convention. A lot of young energetic folks in that group, who'd have had to hold their nose and vote for Romney as they'd surely not vote for Obama. So the big question is, how many of those younger folks will now just sit out the election in November thus not voting for Romney, and then not be involved in politics for many years? Nothing like a bunch of old farts quashing down a young person's enthusiasim by saying we don't want you here, or if we let you in, just sit there and keep your mouth shut. We know what we're doing; we've been doing it this way since 1952 when Ike beat Truman, etc, etc.

The same can be said of the DEMS. What were they thinking in wanting to take God out of their platform? Sometimes you just have to shake your head. They didn't think that wouldn't cause an uproar? They start to believe their own spin on the world and think everyone else shares that extreme view. They forget that folks who go to political conventions are the activists, the most radical in the case of the DEMS, liberal to the far-left; and in the case of the GOP, conservative to the far-right (think TEA Party folks who make Reagan and Gingrich look liberal).

These politicians forget that many will be watching or listening to their speeches on radio (NPR) and online radio/TV, or broadcast TV (PBS) and cable including C-SPAN.

They almost seem to think no one will be listening and then do these foolish things that show just how corrupt, selfish, and arrogant politicians generally are.

It's why I'm an Independent. NEITHER party is the party of virtue, honor, or integrity.


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