Day two of the 2012 Democratic National Convention (DNC) boasted an impressive array of speakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, and DNC Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. But the expectations were high and anticipation palpable for former President Bill Clinton’s speech that concluded the night’s events.
Tuesday night’s speakers were hard to follow: keynote speaker and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro poignantly described his grandmother’s immigrant journey from Mexico to America; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick absolutely enthused the crowd with zealous endorsements of President Barack Obama and scathing condemnations of GOP challenger Mitt Romney; and First Lady Michelle Obama was alternately sharp, relatable, funny, and passionate as she sought to bolster her husband’s appeal to the middle class with the delivery of a highly personal story about her husband’s past as an ambitious young leader and advocate for the American people.
Yet even with the thrills of the previous night, Clinton still managed to deliver what was arguably the best oration thus far.
Though some have criticized the speech for devolving into a ramble and dealing too heavily with esoteric policy matters, it was exactly what the DNC needed.
Clinton, the most popular living ex-president, was true to form: a little off-the-cuff and easy to understand, yet willing to shoot straight and discuss complex issues affecting the entire country. While touching almost every major campaign talking point – jobs, the auto industry, congressional gridlock, energy, college costs, health care, the future of the economy – Clinton both bolstered the incumbent’s credibility and undermined the challenger’s with patently Clintonian subtly and humor.
Most importantly, his speech was a necessarily detailed articulation of many Obama policies. Casually eschewing partisan campaign rhetoric for the simple fact that he can, Clinton nevertheless explained the policies behind such legislation as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and clarified certain Republican attacks against Obama, including the infamous and erroneous welfare attack.
In short: he lauded and explained and clarified all while wowing the crowd.
Far from losing his audience, Clinton commanded his listeners’ attention. He made the best case for a second Obama term to date. He showed he hasn’t lost his magic touch. And he may have just worked wonders on Democrats and independents alike.