There’s nothing like an almost-depression to put the sins of philandering Bill Clinton in perspective. Your choice: an Oval Office sexcapade vs. full employment, a house that’s not underwater and some hope of retiring by 75.
Clearly, America’s chosen. Most of us have forgiven the seducer-in-chief, whose favorability ratings — along with Hillary’s — reached 66 percent in July. That compares to 41 percent for the struggling president whom Clinton called “cool on the outside” last night.
But there was nothing cool and calm last night about Bill Clinton, basking before the swooning faithful. He remained the powerful, passionate, coy, charming, talk-a-dog-off-a-meat-wagon Southern boy who used to jog to McDonald’s and lick secret sauce from pudgy fingers, all the cameras tolling. And last night he showed he still can convince us he feels our pain — and knows how to ease it.
“Are we better off then when he took office?” he asked, stealing the line used over and over at last week’s GOP convention. Yes, he answered himself. Then he went right down the list: jobs added since Obama saved the economy from a free fall into depression. A saved auto industry that Romney wanted to go bankrupt. He praised the cost savings from so-called Obamacare — something I’ve never heard from Obama himself. Clinton praised Obama’s willingness to compromise and reach across the aisle.
“Heck, he even appointed Hillary.”
Like Obama, Clinton said, “I have never learned to hate (Republicans) the way the far right who controls their party seems to hate our president.”
And then he answered the other question hanging over Obama’s re-election. He said the economy Obama inherited was in such drastic shape that “no one...no one” could have fixed all the damage done in just four years. Said Clinton, “I believe it with all my heart.”
Speculation’s been rampant this week about what was in it for Clinton to show up last night. It looked to me like he enjoyed himself immensely during his biggest, best, latest moment in the sun. The New York Times [NYT] reported yesterday that Clinton talks frequently about living on borrowed time. At 66, he’s outlived most men in his family. Of his foundation, he said, “We trying to build it to make sure it’ll still run if I drop dead tomorrow.”
It does occur to you, watching him: He’s not so robust anymore: But it occurs to you, too, how often we’re blind to a politician’s enormous talent until years after he exits the stage. Bill Clinton wowed ’em in Charlotte last night. He wowed anybody watching. And if Barack Obama pulls off a second term, Bill Clinton can expect — and will get — lots of credit.