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Didn't mention the Clinton speech because I was awkwardly situated at the time, didn't get the proper effect, and didn't want that to skew my estimation of his charisma. I've seen the man twice around Cambridge today, though, and he's a true blue motherfucking rock star. Gore made a big mistake by not finding ways to deploy him to good effect. Kerry, I hope, will do better.

July 27, 2004 | Permalink


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A lot of people don't like rock stars.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher | Jul 27, 2004 3:00:23 PM

Cambridge, huh? Bill is chillin' with Joe Nye? With Summers? With Glickman?

Posted by: next big thing | Jul 27, 2004 3:23:41 PM

a lot of people don't like people who don't like rock stars.

Posted by: cleek | Jul 27, 2004 3:29:13 PM

I agree that gore made a mistake not deploying clinton, but, of course, 4 years on, the idea that republicans wasted an enormous amount of time pursuing a politicized impeachment is a commonplace, whereas 4 years ago, anti-clinton feelings still ran very strong.

i trust that if clinton is wandering the streets of cambridge, he will stop by the good news garage, home base for the car talk guys....

Posted by: howard | Jul 27, 2004 3:33:50 PM

Clinton's speech was as much a defense of his presidency as an endorsement of Kerry.

His rhetorical device of playing the altruistic rich guy, wanting to give back his tax break for the security of our country, contrasted with the selfish rich who support Bush, was quite effective.

Perhaps more effective is the constant harping on being tough, and Kerry's war record. Rove thought that this would be a major difference between between the candidates (he was drooling over the prospect of running against Dean) and it isn't playing out that way.

Does anyone seriously believe Bush is smarter, more experienced, tougher, or braver than Kerry?

Posted by: epistemology | Jul 27, 2004 3:42:09 PM

That's pretty much what I've heard from a friend who's had occasion to speak directly with Clinton on several occasions (she's with a special-interest group, see); he's got enormous personal charisma, plus the ability to act as though what you are saying to him, right now, is deeply and enormously important to the exclusion of all else. "It's all bullshit, of course," my friend told me, "but it's pretty convincing at the time."

Posted by: mythago | Jul 27, 2004 3:43:55 PM

I was watching MSNBC after the convention and I have to say that Ron Reagan Jr seems like a genuinely pleasant man. Easy sense of humor, polite. I don't necessarily think he should run for office, but I think he would be an ideal replacement for Joe "When is Fox going to hire me" Scarborough.

"Clinton's speech was as much a defense of his presidency as an endorsement of Kerry." I think a reminder of the positive aspects of the last democratic presidency is an important part of getting undecideds to vote for Kerry.

Posted by: moog | Jul 27, 2004 3:58:16 PM

Well, that was some mighty fine bullshit- a lot better than the kind we've been getting recently. But of course Clinton had a lot of help, what with Kerry volunteering for Vietnam while Bush was checking the box for 'Do Not Volunteer'.

I'd sure like to see the audience reaction if Bush ever reminded his listeners that HIS tax cut was paid for with THEIR money. I'm guessing the Bush-faithful would just do a brainmelt, because they're not allowed to actually criticize the Fearless leader.

Posted by: serial catowner | Jul 27, 2004 4:05:15 PM

MY writes: "Gore made a big mistake by not finding ways to deploy him to good effect."

I agree, but in defense of Gore (which I can't believe I'm making), the timing back then was a lot more sensitive, coming off the heels of an impeachment and not having the benefit of the stark contrast with 3 years of a Bush administration.

I think that it was indeed a tough question, at the time, for the Gore campaign to decide how - or if at all - to utilize Clinton.

Having said that, Clinton is an absolutely mesmerizing speaking, and that was a scintillating performance last night. Very smart for Kerry to have Clinton speak on the first day of the convention.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Jul 27, 2004 4:14:11 PM

On CSPAN last night, I saw Christine Baranski commenting on the Clinton speech and she was so descriptively erotic in her adulation. If she were able to, I'm sure she would have lit a smoke after the whole arousing ordeal. Last night Clinton was dope, sick, money, and all of a number of "fly" adjectives.

Posted by: Carleton | Jul 27, 2004 4:26:33 PM

Clinton's speech was excellent. His personalization of the tax cuts for the rich made it difficult to accuse him of class warfare. Including himself on the list of draft dodgers was a way of saying "Kerry is better than me, so any failings you have seen in me should not be extended to him." The money line about strength & wisdom not being opposing values seems to be part of a concerted attack on Bush's "moral clarity", as those two values were also paired in the speeches by Gore & Carter. (Gore: "I believe that we need new leadership that is both strong and wise". Carter: "Do not underestimate us Americans. We lack neither strength nor wisdom.")

I, too, wish that the Gore 2000 team had done a better job of associating their candidate with the successes of the country under the Clinton Administration and dissassociating him from Clinton's sexual relationships and the resulting complications. At the time, I naively thought that the desired set of associations should follow naturally from Gore's role as the Vice President, but things turned out otherwise.

Posted by: Dan | Jul 27, 2004 4:29:18 PM

I heard Clinton give a similar speech at another event, where he made one point that he left out at the Democratic National Convention. When he said that the cost of doubling the inspection of containers coming into the United States would be only a $5,000 reduction on the tax cut provided to the wealthiest Americans, in the other speech, he said that this was $5,000 out of something like $85,000 that the tax cut gave them. This served to underscore what a trifle the cost would be on the wealthiest Americans.

Posted by: Joe Sabel | Jul 27, 2004 4:49:31 PM

After last night's speech, one thing is clear: Clinton deserved that blowjob.

Posted by: praktike | Jul 27, 2004 5:03:57 PM


Posted by: The Blowjob Nazi | Jul 27, 2004 6:01:27 PM

When Clinton took office, his party held both houses of Congress. Within two years, his party had lost both houses, and have only briefly regained control of one house in the subsequent years. He never won more than 50% of the popular vote. If this justifies a Cult of Personality, Democrats really need to set their standards higher.

The Republicans have their Cult of Personality, of course, recently deceased. However, if one examines the state of the Republican Party prior to 1980, what it was by 1988, and the numbers, in a popular or electoral vote manner, the elections in 1980 and 1984, there is at least some rationale for the mindless hero-worship. Clinton's groupies appear to throw their panties at their Elvis simply for being the only Democrat in a half century to have 8 years in the White House.

Posted by: Will Allen | Jul 27, 2004 6:10:46 PM

Epistemology, George McGovern had one of the most statistically dangerous jobs in WWII, that of a bomber pilot in the European Theater. It didn't do anything for his credibility on foreign and military affairs, because he was rightly perceived as being hopelessly naive.

Kerry isn't the Full McGovern, but he would test positive for the anti-bodies. Whether Bush has enough political skills to exploit this is an open question. Neither one of these guys has terrific campaign skills, which is why the outcome is difficult to predict. Skill holds form much better than mediocrity.

Posted by: Will Allen | Jul 27, 2004 6:26:22 PM

Perhaps the greatest thing about ole Willy is the way he continues to torment rightwingers to this day.

"No Bill Clinton was not a sublime politician! You hear me! He was not!!!"

Posted by: WillieStyle | Jul 27, 2004 6:43:38 PM

Willy, if you wish to dispute raw numbers, which is the only thing that matters in electoral politics, it is fair to say that you are the tormented one. Clinton has great political skills. However, like a pticher who can throw 98 miles per hour, but rarely finishes a season above .500, the results don't match the raw talent.

As far as me bing a "right winger", I recently have derided as a "leftist" for pointing out the inanities within the Republican Party, and I'm very comfortable with provoking such mindless labeling from members of both tribes.

Posted by: Will Allen | Jul 27, 2004 6:54:57 PM

If he can help us get just Arkansas, he'd be an an enormous asset. And if we can get Arkansas and New Hampshire, along with Gore's states, we win.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 27, 2004 7:22:06 PM

Yes, but Will, acting like the Democratic majority in the HOuse in particular was anything but an endangered species, near the end of its run, when Clinton took office is being willfully obtuse.

The fact is, it did take tremendous political skills for Clinton to win election twice; pretending otherwise (comparing him, for instance, to a .500 pitcher) is simply wrong.

And, as even Christopher Caldwell noted this past Sunday, could Clinton have run again, he would have kicked Bush's butt in 2000, and could he run again today, he would kick Bush's butt.

Those approval ratings were no joke; it took Clinton a while to figure out how to be president (as opposed to how to win the presidency), but once he did, he took every shot the GOP and the right-wing hate machine could throw at him with a smile and a 65% approval rating. If you want a sports comparison, think of Ali and Frazier in Manila....

Posted by: howard | Jul 27, 2004 7:44:22 PM

So the liberal argument is that Clinton was a masterful politician who, only because of that fact, was able to hold onto the White House (with less than 50% of the vote). During the time he did so, the Democratic party lost control of both houses for the first time in 50 years.
Perhaps this is true. But the interesting follow up question: So what is the true state of the Democratic Party? MY and many of you seem to think the future looks bright. If the first paragraph, above, is correct, this suggests the Democratic Party is in very rough shape. If the Democratic party is actually in good shape, then the first paragraph (above) makes no sense.


Posted by: Steve | Jul 27, 2004 8:03:30 PM

As noted by MY, on numerous occasions, the Dems have won the popular vote in three consecutive elections. They'll win the popular vote a fourth consecutive time in November; but as to whether they'll win the Electoral College vote, who's to say? My guess is that if they lose the electoral vote, you'll start hearing calls for electoral reform-- and rightly so.

Will Allen keep up your crusade of intellectual honesty because, yeah, why does it even pertain to our Clinton love fest? It's not like we set up a methodology as to how intensely Dems are supposed to like Clinton, and, likewise, that the GOP is more entitled in their adoration for Reagan by dint of electoral math. Good for you Will! You proved your point. A point you conveniently made, under your own convenient metric. That’s so amazing! Why the fuck should we care? You kinda sound like a douche. Are you a douche? Because you sound like a douche?

Posted by: Carleton | Jul 27, 2004 8:53:43 PM

Alternatively, Steve, you might briefly consider the concept that history doesn't stand still, that circumstances change.

From 1968 to 1988, the GOP won 5 of 6 presidential elections, 2 by huge landslides, 2 by good margins, and 1 reasonably close (but only because wallace was in the '68 race). The dems won one, barely, over the weakest candidate the GOP fielded in that time.

Also during that period, the modern conservative movement went from strength to strength, coming closer and closer to gaining control of Congress.

And, of course, even though the Dems had nominal control of Congress, this was, in good part, an artifact of the still-incomplete transition in the South.

So yeah, Clinton winning in '92 and '96 was swimming against the tide, a tide (to mangle my metaphor a bit) that he managed, somewhat, to turn.

As a result, the future of the democratic party looks brighter than it has in quite some time (thanks for asking). The party whose future is more problematic are the long-triumphant GOP, whose internal divisions, especially should Bush lose in the fall, are likely to lead to a long, acrimonious, and '70s Democrat style period of internecine strife and political decline.

But that, too, will pass some day....

Posted by: howard | Jul 27, 2004 9:18:00 PM

As it happens, the Clenis laid the core of the speech out in an interview with your employers!

Posted by: praktike | Jul 28, 2004 12:57:31 AM

Gee whiz, carleton, why the vapid hostility? Perhaps your conception of self worth is too closely tied to your tribal instincts?

Howard, the case was made that Clinton was some sort of titan. Well, if a titan can't get 50% of the vote, and can't better his party's electoral results, how titanic is he? He was fortunate to catch an electoral year in which a lifeless imcumbent had to endure a recently ended, albeit mild, recession, and the principal foreign adversary had collapsed, removing Clinton's principal point of vulnerability. He then benefitted from the beginning of a historic bubble (yes, yes, please make the case how raising the highest marginal rate from 33 to 39 percent "caused" uneeded routers and fiber optic cable to be built) and a tired opponent. Gosh, if only Coolidge had run again!

People were hysterical upon Hardings death. Why not wait another 10 years, at the very least, before proclaiming a guy who couldn't win a majority to be a "motherfucking rock star", based upon his ability to get the sort of nuts who attend political conventions to slobber all over themselves?

Posted by: Will Allen | Jul 28, 2004 1:01:51 AM

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