Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

Bringing in the Big Dog: Clinton to give keynote address at Democratic convention

Bill Clinton

Photo Credit: Roger H. Goun (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite his tendency to go off message, Bill Clinton has been selected to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s an interesting move by the DNC and Obama campaign. Clinton, the ultimate political animal, brings positives and negatives for Obama’s reelection.

The good

1.    Clinton has the ability to appeal to voters that Obama has trouble with, particularly the white working class.

2.    Clinton serves as a reminder that the country experienced massive economic growth during a Democratic presidency. Clinton will try to link his policies to Obama’s, in particular the president’s call for a higher income tax rate for the wealthy.

3.    Clinton is broadly popular with the American electorate, with a 66% favorable rating according to a recent CNN poll. It generally doesn’t hurt to have a guy who’s intensely popular endorse you and sing your praises on prime-time TV.

4.    Clinton’s appearance will increase party unity and perhaps finally heal the rift created by the 2008 Hillary v. Obama primary.

The bad

1.    Clinton campaigned and governed as a “new Democrat” who famously promised that the “era of big government is over.” Obama is bringing big government back in a big way. Moreover, Clinton was famous for triangulation, or moving towards the center rather than the left. Obama has moved left, left, left since the midterms. The discrepancy here is large, and it could remind voters that Obama is not the type of Democrat that Americans really like.

2.    Clinton’s economic record makes Obama’s look poor in comparison. And the fact that Clinton achieved his economic success with a Republican Congress undercuts Obama’s claim that obstructionist Republicans are to blame for our malaise. After all, the government actually shut down during the Clinton years, so it’s not like the GOP was super cooperative back then, either. Voters may find themselves wondering why Clinton was able to negotiate with Republicans and move legislation while Obama has been unable to do so.

3.    Clinton has already muddled Team Obama’s messaging twice this summer. While it would be shocking if he didn’t completely toe the party line during the keynote speech, you really can never be sure what Bill will do. Any misstep would be a disaster given the high profile of the speech.

The ugly

1.    He could steal the show. Clinton simply loves politics, and he’s damn good at it. Combine his rhetorical ability with the fact that he actually has a strong record to talk about, and many voters may find themselves wishing for another four years of Bill instead of Barack.

At the end of the day, Clinton’s speech isn’t going to decide the election (unless something extraordinary happens). And while there are downsides to having him as the keynote speaker, his positives outweigh his negatives. Team Obama is taking a calculated risk by tapping him for the role, but it’s one that is likely to pay off.

2 thoughts on “Bringing in the Big Dog: Clinton to give keynote address at Democratic convention

  1. Four more years of Clinton? Hmmm, now let me let my imagination run wild. Just how could that happen? First of all, there’s that “lousy constitution” that is in the way.
    Well, step one would be to get rid of the constitution. What kind of likelihood what that be?
    I’ve said for some while that barry wants to get rid of the constitution. Maybe barry is put there just for that purpose to clear the way for billybob!
    So, here’s how it would be done: Barry would start WWIII and be a “wartime president”. Barry would be found/shown/admit to being a fraud. Barry would show how the people didn’t mind he being a fraud and thus say the folks thus wouldn’t mind getting rid of the constitution. Well, the only thing (person) in the way would be barry (okay, biteme/biden, too). Well, since the CIA got rid of JKF for LBJ, they could then get rid of BHO for bill.
    Wild, but if it happens, remember that you saw it here first.

  2. My guess is that Clinton has been promised a VERY prominent role in an Obama second term, equivalent to being a Chinese-dynasty force behind the curtain. The Democratic Party is probably DEMANDING this scenario behind closed doors, anticipating a Republican Congress. Obama is so unalteringly incompetent in the legislative arena that only a Clinton de facto presidency could avoid four years of federal gridlock. My wish in the event or Obama’s re-election? Four years of gridlock; I’ve had more than enough of this fool.

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