Donna Brazile: Forward to a better future
Citing the preamble to the Constitution that united 13 independent states and created the United States of America by forming a more perfect union, former President Bill Clinton said, “If that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama.”
In a masterful presentation, Clinton disposed of the past that has consumed the 2012 election so far, and set the stage for Obama to address the future.
Political commentators couldn’t resist appreciating the speech because none equaled him.
“Love him, hate him — you just saw Koufax pitch, DiMaggio play centerfield, Rubenstein tickle the ivories,” wrote veteran political correspondent Jeff Greenfield.
Beyond this, Clinton did something the American public is hungry for: He talked policy. He talked issues. He was specific. “A longtime hallmark of Clinton’s speeches is believing that voters want to hear more about policy than they usually get to,” Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein tweeted. “And being right.”
Clinton took the American people off a political fast-food diet, fed them meat and potatoes — and lots of healthy vegetables — and they loved it. He actually talked longer (48 minutes) than his infamous convention address back in 1988, when Democrats wildly roared approval when he said he was almost finished.
The fact-checkers had an easy night with Clinton. As former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell put it, “His speech was fact-checked 15 ways to Sunday.” Clinton demolished the Triple R (Romney/Ryan/Republican) arguments against Obama.
But, more importantly, Clinton gave his certification — as no one else is in a position to do — that Obama not only laid the foundation for a better economy, but for a better, more peaceful, cooperative, pull-together America.
“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport,” said Clinton, summing up the Triple R approach.
Under President Clinton, we had a good economy, employment went up and the deficit went away — we ran a surplus. The nation added 22 million private sector jobs. We also added a sensible active role for government: We put the middle class first, we raised taxes on the rich, and we used education, environment, health care, training programs, etc., to give the middle class a fair shot at a better life.
Then the advocates of an unfettered Wall Street came to power. They did all the things that Romney/Ryan/Republicans are promising to do, the things that created the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Triple R plan triple-threatens the hard-fought, hard-won economic progress that Obama has struggled to achieve.
Wall Street bounced back early in Obama’s administration, and the millionaires and billionaires who run it actually had their incomes improve during the recession. We went from a loss (rounded up) of 800,000 jobs monthly to steady job growth; we added an additional 4 million jobs because of the Obama stimulus. America is demonstrably better off today.
Political director for CBS News, John Dickerson, stated the Obama’s public perception problem succinctly: “People are better off ... but people don’t feel that way.” Romney/Ryan have “people where their feelings are, and Obama has to make a long, factual case ... and that’s the tension.” Clinton made that “long, factual case.” Clinton affirmed, in spite of non-stop Republican obstructionism and negativity, that Obama’s policies are doing well, yet need time to reach completion.
Clinton figured out for the America people what they already knew, but were struggling with because of a 24/7 onslaught by Republican myth-makers that nothing Obama was doing was successful — even as they took credit for Obama stimulus jobs he placed in their states.
Republican congressional leaders’ 100 percent partisan, no-compromise strategy put their own jobs ahead of your jobs and your future. Despite all this, Obama saved the auto industry. He made college more affordable. He delivered on health care. He pulled the economy away from the precipice of a disaster bigger, deeper and more devastating than the Great Depression.
Clinton said that no president, including himself, could have cleaned up the mess left for Obama in just four years. Clinton pointed to the record: In 52 years, the Republicans have created 24 million jobs, and the Democrats 42 million jobs.
“Now, there’s a reason for this.” Clinton said, “It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics.”
That’s the Obama philosophy — the Obama plan. Having a plan matters. That’s what President Clinton showed in his speech and that’s what President Obama will do over the next seven weeks.
What now of the future? If we stick with the guy who’s leading us now, things are going to get better.
DONNA BRAZILE is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.