Last night President Bill Clinton spoke to some millions of Americans and in so doing threw sand in the face of every advertising pundit who's pontificated in the last 30 years.
His speech was long, 48-minutes, thus deflating over-blown notion that only sound-bites are important and the much-repeated bromide that no one has anything resembling an attention span.
The speech was as stripped down as that of an ancient Roman Senator. There was no banal powerpoint accompaniment. There was no "type crawl" and bullet points. It was just a man talking.
It was a man delivering a message.
In an era in which we've been told messaging is dead.
It was a man using an artful combination of intelligence, logic, emotion and empathy. All those things made obsolete by data visualization.
No. Last night defied all the so-called media fads that have infected our business and have become our mania du jour.
Instead, last night we saw a man who took complex ideas and made them simple and meaningful.
Last night's speech had no electronics.
Not even a laser-pointer.
Just motivation. Meaning. Warmth. Humanity.
It turns out those things aren't dead after all.
As an illustration, I've pasted Clinton's speech here. All 3,178 words of it.
Yeah, all those words.
They'll never work.
We’re here to nominate a President, and I’ve got one in mind.
I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of
adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for President to change the
course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before the
election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression.
A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road
to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were
created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to
feed their children and keep their hopes alive.
I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America
on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream
economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A
man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.
I want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States and
I proudly nominate him as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party.
In Tampa, we heard a lot of talk about how the President and the
Democrats don’t believe in free enterprise and individual initiative,
how we want everyone to be dependent on the government, how bad we are
for the economy.
The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are
completely self-made. One of our greatest Democratic Chairmen, Bob
Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was
born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.
We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle
class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a
relentless focus on the future, with business and government working
together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think
“we’re all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your
Who’s right? Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White
House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy
produced 66 million private sector jobs. What’s the jobs score?
Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic
empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because
discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments
in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research
increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.
Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate
them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate
President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent
federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High
and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with
President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush
on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush
for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor
countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together
after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian
Through my foundation, in America and around the world, I work with
Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are focused on solving
problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting each other.
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in
the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody’s right all
the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. All of us are
destined to live our lives between those two extremes. Unfortunately,
the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that
way. They think government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.
One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is
that he is still committed to cooperation. He appointed Republican
Secretaries of Defense, the Army and Transportation. He appointed a
Vice President who ran against him in 2008, and trusted him to oversee
the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the
recovery act. And Joe Biden did a great job with both. He appointed
Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries. Heck, he even
appointed Hillary! I’m so proud of her and grateful to our entire
national security team for all they’ve done to make us safer and
stronger and to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m
also grateful to the young men and women who serve our country in the
military and to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for supporting military
families when their loved ones are overseas and for helping our
veterans, when they come home bearing the wounds of war, or needing help
with education, housing, and jobs.
President Obama’s record on national security is a tribute to his
strength, and judgment, and to his preference for inclusion and
partnership over partisanship.
He also tried to work with Congressional Republicans on Health Care,
debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn’t work out so well. Probably
because, as the Senate Republican leader, in a remarkable moment of
candor, said two years before the election, their number one priority
was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of
Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we’re going to keep President Obama on the job!
In Tampa, the Republican argument against the President’s re-election
was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up
fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.
In order to look like an acceptable alternative to President Obama,
they couldn’t say much about the ideas they have offered over the last
two years. You see they want to go back to the same old policies that
got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income
Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky
financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit
future bailouts; to increase defense spending two trillion dollars more
than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend the
money on; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially
programs that help the middle class and poor kids. As another President
once said – there they go again.
I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better.
He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash,
began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a
modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good
new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the
Are we where we want to be? No. Is the President satisfied? No. Are
we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free
fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month. The answer is YES.
I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still
angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing,
banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a
bit, too many people don’t feel it.
I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies
were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it
yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest
peacetime expansion in American history.
President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No
President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the
damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll
renew the President’s contract you will feel it.
I believe that with all my heart.
President Obama’s approach embodies the values, the ideas, and the
direction America must take to build a 21st century version of the
American Dream in a nation of shared opportunities, shared prosperity
and shared responsibilities.
So back to the story. In 2010, as the President’s recovery program
kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around.
The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for
95% of the American people. In the last 29 months the economy has
produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But last year, the
Republicans blocked the President’s jobs plan costing the economy more
than a million new jobs. So here’s another jobs score: President Obama
plus 4.5 million, Congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs
have been created under President Obama – the first time manufacturing
jobs have increased since the 1990s.
The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million
jobs, not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts
manufacturing all over the country. That’s why even auto-makers that
weren’t part of the deal supported it. They needed to save the
suppliers too. Like I said, we’re all in this together.
Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than
the day the companies were restructured. Governor Romney opposed the
plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score: Obama two
hundred and fifty thousand, Romney, zero.
The agreement the administration made with management, labor and
environmental groups to double car mileage over the next few years is
another good deal: it will cut your gas bill in half, make us more
energy independent, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and add another
500,000 good jobs.
President Obama’s “all of the above” energy plan is helping too – the
boom in oil and gas production combined with greater energy efficiency
has driven oil imports to a near 20 year low and natural gas production
to an all time high. Renewable energy production has also doubled.
We do need more new jobs, lots of them, but there are already more
than three million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly
because the applicants don’t have the required skills. We have to
prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are being created in a
world fueled by new technology. That’s why investments in our people
are more important than ever. The President has supported community
colleges and employers in working together to train people for open jobs
in their communities. And, after a decade in which exploding college
costs have increased the drop-out rate so much that we’ve fallen to 16th
in the world in the percentage of our young adults with college
degrees, his student loan reform lowers the cost of federal student
loans and even more important, gives students the right to repay the
loans as a fixed percentage of their incomes for up to 20 years. That
means no one will have to drop-out of college for fear they can’t repay
their debt, and no one will have to turn down a job, as a teacher, a
police officer or a small town doctor because it doesn’t pay enough to
make the debt payments. This will change the future for young
I know we’re better off because President Obama made these decisions.
That brings me to health care.
The Republicans call it Obamacare and say it’s a government takeover
of health care that they’ll repeal. Are they right? Let’s look at
what’s happened so far. Individuals and businesses have secured more
than a billion dollars in refunds from their insurance premiums because
the new law requires 80% to 85% of your premiums to be spent on health
care, not profits or promotion. Other insurance companies have lowered
their rates to meet the requirement. More than 3 million young people
between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents
can now carry them on family policies. Millions of seniors are
receiving preventive care including breast cancer screenings and tests
for heart problems. Soon the insurance companies, not the government,
will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people
with pre-existing conditions. And for the last two years, health care
spending has grown under 4%, for the first time in 50 years.
So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.
There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve
an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the
President for allegedly robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars. Here’s
what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the
President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to
providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any
healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare
drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust
Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats
didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.
When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked
President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I
didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that 716 billion dollars
is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in
his own budget.
At least on this one, Governor Romney’s been consistent. He wants to
repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies,
re-open the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and
reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years. So now if
he’s elected and does what he promised Medicare will go broke by 2016.
If that happens, you won’t have to wait until their voucher program to
begins in 2023 to see the end Medicare as we know it.
But it gets worse. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it
by a third over the coming decade. Of course, that will hurt poor
kids, but that’s not all. Almost two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on
nursing home care for seniors and on people with disabilities, including
kids from middle class families, with special needs like, Downs
syndrome or Autism. I don’t know how those families are going to deal
with it. We can’t let it happen
Now let’s look at the Republican charge that President Obama wants to
weaken the work requirements in the welfare reform bill I signed that
moved millions of people from welfare to work.
Here’s what happened. When some Republican governors asked to try
new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama Administration
said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase
employment by 20%. You hear that? More work. So the claim that
President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not
true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said
“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Now
that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself – I just hope you
remember that every time you see the ad.
Let’s talk about the debt. We have to deal with it or it will deal
with us. President Obama has offered a plan with 4 trillion dollars in
debt reduction over a decade, with two and a half dollars of spending
reductions for every one dollar of revenue increases, and tight controls
on future spending. It’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the
bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.
I think the President’s plan is better than the Romney plan, because
the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: The
numbers don’t add up.
It’s supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with five
trillion dollars in tax cuts over a ten-year period. That makes the debt
hole bigger before they even start to dig out. They say they’ll make
it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code. When you ask “which
loopholes and how much?,” they say “See me after the election on that.”
People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets.
What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer:
arithmetic. If they stay with a 5 trillion dollar tax cut in a debt
reduction plan – the – arithmetic tells us that one of three things will
happen: 1) they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions like the ones
for home mortgages and charitable giving that middle class families will
see their tax bill go up two thousand dollars year while people making
over 3 million dollars a year get will still get a 250,000 dollar tax
cut; or 2) they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate
the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water,
safe food, safe air travel; or they’ll cut way back on Pell Grants,
college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help
middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting
investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research;
or 3) they’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now –
cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the
economy. Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt
before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can’t
afford to double-down on trickle-down.
President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values, and brightens the future for our children, our families and our nation.
My fellow Americans, you have to decide what kind of country you want
to live in. If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society
you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of
shared opportunities and shared responsibilities – a “we’re all in it
together” society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If
you want every American to vote and you think its wrong to change voting
procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and
disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama. If you think the
President was right to open the doors of American opportunity to young
immigrants brought here as children who want to go to college or serve
in the military, you should vote for Barack Obama. If you want a future
of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is
declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the
United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a
highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama.
I love our country – and I know we’re coming back. For more than 200
years, through every crisis, we’ve always come out stronger than we went
in. And we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the
cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their
sacred honor – to form a more perfect union.
If that’s what you believe, if that’s what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.
God Bless You – God Bless America.
I just threw up in my mouth. Bill Clinton. Barack Obama. Blech. The masses are asses. Even you.
Post a Comment