He's baaack: Clinton claims spotlight again
President Barack Obama took a chance on the former president Wednesday, awarding him the evening’s prime speaking slot, one normally reserved for the vice president, and Clinton came through for him big time.
Clinton has been known to use these occasions to burnish his own legacy – and indeed he did a little of that in Charlotte – but he used his eighth appearance before a Democratic convention to defend Obama:
“President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, could have repaired all the damage he found in just four years.”
And, almost as if he had been taking notes during the GOP convention, Clinton launched into a nearly point-by-point rebuttal of Republican criticisms, defending the auto bailout, health care, even the waivers the Obama administration has granted under Clinton’s signature welfare reform law.
Lest there be any mistake about Obama’s regard for Clinton, the president emerged onstage at the end of the 50-minute speech to embrace the former president in a man hug. Obama should hold that thought.
Clinton has a quick temper, but the flashes are brief and quickly forgotten, and the man does not hold grudges. He said some reckless things about Obama in 2008 when, over the advice of Hillary Clinton’s political strategists, he decided that she should challenge Obama in the South Carolina primary where she got crushed.
By the election, bygones were bygones. Moreover, Clinton said of Obama: “He appointed Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries. Heck, he even appointed Hillary!”
In keeping with tradition, the indefatigable secretary of state stayed away from partisan politics and the convention, the first one she has missed since 1968.
Of course, the question arose as to whether Hillary, who is stepping down from the State Department after Obama’s first term, would run again in 2016. Bill Clinton’s answer: “We’re not kids anymore. I don’t have any idea if she’ll ever run again. She says she won’t.”
Ronald Reagan redefined the age at which it’s acceptable to run. He was 69 when he ran the first time, the same age Hillary Clinton will be in 2016. The dreams of dynasty, even if only idle ones, will die if Obama loses. And for a host of reasons, perhaps the least of which is his wife, Bill Clinton truly wants to see Obama win in November.
In turn, Barack Obama should not make the same mistake Vice President Al Gore made in 2000 by keeping the former president at arm’s length. Obama should make full use of Bill Clinton in his presidential campaign. Take a chance and unleash the Big Dog.
– Scripps Howard News Service