A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: bill clinton convention speech

Proof Bill Clinton Could Sell Igloos To Eskimoes, Elevators To One-Story Buildings, Etc.

by evanmcmurry

Greg Sargeant notes* that a new Spanish language Obama ad explicitly makes the claim that the economy is “recovering,” something the Obama campaign has been hesitant to do for fear of seeming out of touch with voters still feeling the brunt the recession.

What changed? A little speech by one Bill Clinton:

There are signs that voters may be growing more open to this argument, in the wake of Bill Clinton’s convention speech, which spelled it out very effectively. As MSNBC’s First Read crew notes this morning, the new NBC/WSJ polls in Florida, Ohio and Virginia show a jump in the number who think we’re on the right track, to oer 40 percent. [sic]

The NBC team attributes this to Clinton’s argument: “No president — not me or any of my predecessors — could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving, and if you’ll renew the president’s contract you will feel it.” Clinton, of course, will continue to play a key role in trying to make swing voters feel better about the direction of the economy.

 That’s obviously a pretty big assumption—I don’t now how NBC found a causal connection between Clinton’s speech and the change in numbers—but I have no problem buying it, either. It sure wasn’t Obama’s speech that did effected the change, nor was it the wan jobs report that followed the next morning.

You may also enjoy this drink with an irony back: Republicans talked up Bill’s speech, expecting him to overshadow Obama, and remind people of the good times they enjoyed under his presidency that Obama has been unable to replicate. No such luck!

As a side note, a lot of people before and during the conventions made the dismissive argument that “conventions no longer matter.” I wonder how those authors feel now. Obama received a pretty sizable bump from the convention that has yet to fade; more important, he now polls even with Romney on who would better handle the economy, effectively neutralizing Romney’s one strength. Add on the above change in the “right track” metric, and I bet we will look back on the DNC as the moment the election slipped once and for all from Romney’s grasp.

* Link feature not working for some reason; maybe it needs a tax cut.

Poor Marco Rubio

by evanmcmurry

Regardless of who’s winning the election, the Democrats are winning the convention. There’s absolutely no way the Romney campaign and the GOP watched those speeches from Julian Castro, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton with anything but a grimace on their faces; Michelle Obama’s performance devastated Ann Romney’s, and Bill Clinton’s speech simply had no equal in the three days of the GOP convention. (Literally. His Republican counterpart wasn’t even mentioned, let alone on the bill.)

But nobody’s feeling the difference more than Marco Rubio. Rubio’s speech was the best of the GOP convention, though he was helped by the fact that the Republicans have a paucity of quality public speakers (and those who actually have charisma—it rhymes with “Ick Berry”—were set back to the minors for rehabilitation). But all the comparisons of Rubio’s speech to Obama’s 2004 convention address were overblown; I got the impression they were made a) because the GOP is desperate for an Obama of their own and Rubio’s the only man who applied, and b) we just don’t have many shared reference points for good public speaking anymore,* and the Reagan keg is tapped.

For all that, had the DNC never happened, Rubio’s speech would likely have been filed in the mainstream consciousness as the GOP’s version of Obama’s 2004 star-making, standard-setting performance. That was, of course, before Julian Castro brought down the house Tuesday night. Castro and Rubio have obvious similarities, but Castro not only conveyed all of the wistful, biography-based patriotism of Rubio’s speech, but strapped it to a rocket of rhetoric: call and responses, jokes, puns, chants—Castro’s speech matched all the qualities of Rubio’s and then tripled down on them. Can you imagine a conversation in the next few weeks in which someone says, “Hey, Rubio’s speech was pretty good, huh?” without five other people responding, “Yeah, but what about Julian Castro?!?!?” (It helps that Castro was celebrating Obama, whereas Rubio was the opening act for 45 minutes of “Hey, does your life suck a bag of dicks? Vote Romney!”)

Some of Rubio’s speech will survive the convention—his line about his father standing behind a bar so his son could stand behind a podium, for instance—and he did what he needed to do to enshrine his status as one of the preeminent leaders of the new generation of Republicans, which is more than enough to secure the next decade of his political life. But Rubio missed his chance  to become a bipartisan reference point the way Obama did with his 2004 convention speech. And given the current state of the Republican Party, however happy Rubio was with his speech, he can’t be that thrilled that his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity served only to endear him to a party of vipers who want to deport people like him, while failing to cross over to the wider contingent of humanity that might one day be convinced to elect him president. (Julian Castro 2024!)

* Actually, Sarah Palin’s 2008 RNC address is a landmark public speech, but not one anybody wants to emulate any time soon.