By DAVID BEILSTEIN
ORLANDO, Fla.—Former President Bill Clinton stepped out onto the Democratic National Convention stage to add lustre and spirit to current President Barack H. Obama’s bid for reelection in November.
The former president was about as good as he gets — but he was reduced to snake oil salesmen tactics because of the sedentary bog of Obama’s horrid economic stewardship. If anyone can put a shine on bad news, it’s Bill Clinton. It is yet to be seen whether Clinton’s grandiose and overlong pitch for President Obama will accomplish anything.
The real problem is, — and Republicans will jump on this — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have pursued radically different domestic programs. Bill Clinton has come out against tax increases of any kind during a recession; a stance the president has feigned to reject. Part of Clinton’s ability — steered by a Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 — to balance the budget was a radical reduction in capital gains taxes, from 28 to 20 percent. That’s supply-sider Republican type numbers, gents.
Clinton still has his style and mojo … the pauses, glances, — his perfect timing. He is still an incredible communicator. But when systematic elements of the economy are under water, communication skills are not so highly venerated by voters. Clinton’s communication skills — and his defective moral antics — worked in the 1990s precisely because Americans were better off and excited by the elevated prospects of their own livelihoods. That status Americans found themselves in — a sump of economic morass, was produced by diametrically opposite policies Barack Obama has pursued for almost four years. Clinton can try to sell the notion there is no difference — that he backs the president of the United States fully, but recent history presents a far more complex and negative story.
Unlike the Bill Clinton of 1992, the elder statesman Clinton of 2012 seemed slightly desperate. In a word, he seemed winded. And he was far more negative then in 1992. He did not raise hopes based on a more prosperous future, but warned, severely wagging his finger about Republican plans. It will be hard to lay such sludge at the Republican’s feet. Romney has the cash to respond and is — and he runs against a president with a horrible economic record who did not feel it important enough to pass a budget.
William Jefferson Clinton enjoyed economic successes and moral failings. On the economic successes, Clinton strayed far away from the recent Democratic mantra of economic issues. He referred to himself as a ‘New Democrat’ and his economic successes tended to cast Republicans against him as irrationally partisan.
But President Obama has a completely different soil to defend. Clinton represented growth and opportunity for many Americans despite his perverse failings. But Obama represented stepping back — reduction of prosperity and livelihood for a majority of Americans.
Not even Bill Clinton can make that sound good.
Lastly, Bob Woodward’s new book on President Obama’s battles with republican congressional leaders exudes the kind of bungled missteps and lunges Bill Clinton never suffered.
Bill Clinton was too good a dancer compared to Barack Obama.