CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bill Clinton’s typically epic speech last night certainly was the most detailed, calculated and complete attack on the Republican agenda that we have heard during the entire campaign. It also was the most unreserved and embracing defense of President Obama.
But Good Bubba never comes to dinner without Bad Bubba. As hosannas rise from all quarters this morning hailing his gargantuan speech, it is worth noting where he was naughty, where he simply could not contain himself, where he simply could not resist making it a little bit all about him and even twisting the knife a little bit in Mr. Obama.
Here are six ways Mr. Clinton made his big Obama nomination speech all about himself.
1) Throughout the address, he made subtle and not-so-subtle references to the successes of his own term as president. Though he did not mention this explicitly, those successes came from deep compromises he made with Republicans — something that is absent from Mr. Obama’s tenure.
At one point, he said even he — the great Bill Clinton himself — could not have dug the country out of the financial mess Mr. Obama found when he took office.
2) When he dug back through the record of Democratic and Republican presidents going back 52 years to see which side had created more jobs, he said his party created 42 million, compared to just 24 million under GOP presidents. If you are sitting at home without a job, that just pisses you off, and a pissed-off voter is almost certainly not going to be an Obama voter on Election Day.
3) He asked folks if they watched the Republican convention in Tampa.
“I did,” he said. It was a setup for him to excoriate Republican arguments. But it also was a reminder that the White House admitted Mr. Obama did not watch even the GOP speeches. Mr. Obama has become such a hardened and bitter, nasty Beltway partisan that he no longer even listens to the other side.
But not Bubba. He watched and listened. And he even enjoyed it!
4) Mr. Clinton even went so far as to call Republicans “honorable people” who he expects will keep all the commitments they made. What a sad reminder of what a low and caustic figure Mr. Obama has become, a man whose campaign has called Mitt Romney a liar and a felon and refuses to back off claims that he was somehow responsible for a woman dying of cancer.
5) Perhaps the most shocking barb of the night came as Mr. Clinton was lauding Republicans and their convention.
“They looked good, they sounded good,” he said. “They convinced me that they all love their families and their children and were grateful they’d been born in America.”
Really? Giving a speech nominating Mr. Obama to a second term, and Mr. Clinton raises the birther card? At the very least, the line highlights persistent questions about Mr. Obama’s patriotism and whether the first lady really is proud of her country yet.