CHARLOTTE, NC – Wednesday night’s speech by former President Bill Clinton, formally nominating Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president was definitive proof that our little Bill is all grown up. After a bruising primary campaign between Hillary and Obama in 2008 that revealed the egomaniac side of Bill Clinton, and four years of ‘supposed’ gaffes where the former president undermined Obama and specific messages out of the White House, he showed last night that he has finally matured into an elder statesman.
An elder statesman’s job is to get the heck out of the way when young folks is talking and accept their role as occasionally sought after but not always relevant advice. Bill Clinton never understood that, at least publicly, until last night. Obama beating Hillary was personal to Bill, and losing to a black man, who eclipsed his own swagger in the African American community only made the jealousy burn hotter. But somehow someway Bill Clinton got over all of that, and gave what is likely the most substantive explanation for why President Barack Obama deserves a second term. What caused this late term epiphany?
Of course we could all speculate that it was some late night transformation, or even that Obama begged Clinton on bended knee to help him out but I don’t think it was any of those things. At his core, Bill Clinton was a pragmatist in the White House. He was not by any stretch of the imagination a liberal, and anyone who studied the “Third Way” politics of Clinton, Tony Blair in England and even Schroeder in German realizes that these men were free market loving big business favoring capitalists. What happened is that Bill Clinton realizes just how bad a situation that Barack Obama is in and just how much this country is going to go down the tubes if Obama is looking for another job in November. It’s as simple as that.
Bill Clinton faced some opposition from Newt Gingrich and the boys in in the 1990’s but nothing like what Obama has faced with the Tea Party Republicans, not to mention the fact that many of Clinton’s wounds were self-inflicted based on his own lousy personal behavior. When Bill was giving his 45 minute lecture last night, it wasn’t just to move the crowd, which it did at some points, it was because he wanted the chattering classes to pay attention to the facts and not just the campaign. In last night’s speech Clinton spread facts like they were butter and dropped numbers like he was on Sesame Street. The press is still looking over his facts to see where the fibs are and right now, some of his biggest statements, about Democratic Presidents creating more jobs than Republicans, and Obama’s plans to save Medicare have been proven to be factually correct. Reporters love fact checking speeches and in doing so Clinton has tricked the chattering classes into re-iterating accomplishments that Obama has been lousy at promoting.
This may be Clinton’s last run at this type of stage, if Obama wins re-election then Clinton will be even lower on the totem pole at a Democratic convention in 2016 as Obama will have a prime spot to endorse (Deval Patrick, Jennifer Granholm, Martin O’Malley, take your pick). But Bill has made peace with is past, he no longer has to justify what he did or didn’t do in the 1990’s no longer has to explain himself, he was finally able to relax and just do his job. Explain how he sees the world and work hard to keep the next Democrat in office. Welcome to the elder statesman club Bill Clinton. It only took you 12 years to get there.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.