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Reich writes: "Bill Clinton's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention was very long but it was masterful ... in giving the American public what they most want and need in this election season: details, facts, and logic."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)


The Real Importance of Bill Clinton's Wonderfully Long Speech

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

06 September 12

 

ill Clinton's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention was very long but it was masterful - not only in laying out the case for Barack Obama and against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but in giving the American public what they most want and need in this election season: details, facts, and logic.

Republicans have eschewed all detail, all fact, all logic. Theirs has been a campaign of ideological bromides mixed with outright bald-faced lies.

Therein lies the importance of what Bill Clinton accomplished tonight. But, just as importantly, it wasn't a wonky talk. He packaged the facts in a way people could hear. This is the highest calling of a public educator.

The question is not how many undecided voters saw the speech (I doubt many did) but whether it galvanizes Democrats - giving them the clarity of conviction and argument they need over the next nine weeks to explain why Obama must be re-elected, and why a Romney-Ryan administration would be a disaster for this country.

I believe Clinton's speech accomplished this perfectly. We shall see.



Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

 

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-40 # Richard Raznikov 2012-09-06 15:10
Speaking of bald-faced lies, it was Clinton who more than anyone pushed NAFTA, screwing working people and unions and outsourcing jobs. It was Clinton who presided over the deregulation of the banks and enabled the most massive fraud in American history. It is insane that he be lionized when in fact he has done terrible things. But it's perfectly indicative of the modern-day Democratic Party, which speaks eloquently while adopting limits to free speech, ratifying massive police spying, taking pieces out of the Bill of Rights, and giving a Democratic President carte blanche to wage war and authorize death squads.
 
 
+64 # freeportguy 2012-09-06 18:03
Rewriting history?? The free trade agreement started being discussed by Reagan, it as negotiated under G HW Bush, and it was signed by Clinton.

Waiting now for you to blast Reagan and Bush too...
 
 
+13 # Hey There 2012-09-07 00:33
Consider your request in your last sentence as done.
The last President that did anything for the general public regarding ECONOMICS was Johnson. The last tax rate that evened the playing field was when Kennedy was President.
 
 
-1 # brux 2012-09-07 13:04
The last tax rate that evened the playing field was when Kennedy was President.

That was a mistake as well.
 
 
-42 # RLF 2012-09-07 04:49
Duh! Signed by Clinton! They are no longer the Bush tax cuts...they were signed by Obama...they are the Obama tax cuts. Speaking of Clinton...You forgot the .com bubble he did nothing to anticipate...ta lking of handing the next president a mess!
 
 
+35 # freeportguy 2012-09-07 06:45
Talk about a cheap way to pass the buck to someone else! And why were those tax cuts extended by Obama? Because the GOP would otherwise not agree to extend unemployment benefits!

Nice try, but it's like this: even if Jenna Bush got married, she is STILL Bush's baby! Same with his tax cuts that were forced on Obama...and which the GOP is still trying all they can to keep them there!
 
 
+2 # brux 2012-09-07 13:06
Yeah, but that was a bad decision by Obama, he would have a lot more support today if he had used that time to stand up to the Republicans as Clinton did when they shut down the government. Instead, Obama did the compromise and really got nothing for it.
 
 
+23 # BradFromSalem 2012-09-07 07:31
Duh! The term Bush Tax Cuts is the name of the cuts; when Obama signed an extension of the cuts; the name did not change. That is it; period. Yes, Obama did sign an extension, but he did get some concessions too. I believe he paid way too high for those extensions, but he does not "own" the cuts.
And speaking of those tax cuts, Bush II, and the dot com bubble. The bubble burst at the very end of Clinton's term. To borrow a phrase from Bush I; at that point the cuts were not a prudent action. The Democrats pointed this out, but Bush used trickery to get in the cuts. The trickery was called reconciliation used to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Imagine that!
So what Bush II did was to not react to an economic problem at the start of his term, then; he initiated two unfunded wars and pushed through legislation that put the goverment on the hook for billions to the drug companies.
Without the cuts, the dot com bubble would not have stressed the economy for very long, without the cuts we could have paid off the drug companies without styressing the economy. If we paid for the wars, as all previous wars were; then the housing bubble bursting would would not have moved us to edge of the cliff.
So you see, President Bush II, took a healthy economy that was facing a cyclical bump in the road and over 8 years drove us off the road and nearly off the cliff. The fact is, we now have 4 wheels on the ground and we are slowly accelerating toward health. ARITHMETIC
 
 
+10 # Independentgal 2012-09-07 10:44
No blast will come against Reagan and Bush. The right wingers have been brainwashed by Rush, Fox Republican News, and their ilk. They can no longer reason and just believe everything those propaganda machines spew forth. I guess they'll never learn that the Republicans feed into their fears and hatreds to encourage them to vote against their own interests while helping the super rich and the large corporations. It's really unfortunate for them.
 
 
+18 # reiverpacific 2012-09-06 23:01
Quoting Richard Raznikov:
Speaking of bald-faced lies, it was Clinton who more than anyone pushed NAFTA, screwing working people and unions and outsourcing jobs. It was Clinton who presided over the deregulation of the banks and enabled the most massive fraud in American history. It is insane that he be lionized when in fact he has done terrible things. But it's perfectly indicative of the modern-day Democratic Party, which speaks eloquently while adopting limits to free speech, ratifying massive police spying, taking pieces out of the Bill of Rights, and giving a Democratic President carte blanche to wage war and authorize death squads.

OK; so vote for Twit/Ryand, see where it gets you.
May I suggest the re-couped Paraguay, where you'll get yer fill of death-squads.
Rotsa ruck!
 
 
+17 # pernsey 2012-09-06 23:51
Quoting Richard Raznikov:
Speaking of bald-faced lies, it was Clinton who more than anyone pushed NAFTA, screwing working people and unions and outsourcing jobs. It was Clinton who presided over the deregulation of the banks and enabled the most massive fraud in American history. It is insane that he be lionized when in fact he has done terrible things. But it's perfectly indicative of the modern-day Democratic Party, which speaks eloquently while adopting limits to free speech, ratifying massive police spying, taking pieces out of the Bill of Rights, and giving a Democratic President carte blanche to wage war and authorize death squads.


These are Fox news facts not real facts. Had there actually been a real fact in here, Im sure it was purely by mistake.
 
 
+20 # Hey There 2012-09-07 00:25
I agree with you. Look at what a politician has done, not how well he speaks. My current concern as a former Postal Employee is the drive to "SAVE" the postal service by Issa, Collins, Ross, and Lieberman: bills that would privatize the Post Office with higher rates and less customer service.
Issa claims he is striving to save the USPS yet he is ignoring expenses that can be deleted without disrupting the service.
#1. Rescind PAEA signed by Bush in 2006 which mandated that the USPS fund 75 years of retiree health benefits in 10 at 5.5 Billion a year.
#2. Overpayments of 50 to 75 Billion the USPS made to the CSRS and those made to FERS should be returned.
#3. Adjust the ratio of managers to workers .
#4. Quit giving deep discounts to large businesses.The USPS has lost money doing this.
The videos tell the rest .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09ybkkiH2Ho
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am4wez1ShPY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsPIY9bFFZY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-chx0j3_8IU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRcBoDSfisg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDJNamOGSe
 
 
+14 # pbbrodie 2012-09-07 09:18
More people need to wake up to the fact that the Republicans are trying to completely destroy OUR Post Office. There may be a few problems with the Post Office but the vast majority of them are caused by interference from Congress. As you pointed out, PAEA, which mandated that the PO fund 75 years of retirement benefits up front in just 10 years, has been disastrous for the Post Office and the primary reason they haven't been able to operate with a profit. No other company has ever done this and there is absolutely no reason for the Post Office to do so, other than the reason Congress and Bush forced them to, to eliminate their profits and make it look like they are a poorly run company.
There is a concerted effort by the Republicans to destroy the Post Office in order to shift all of their business to Fedex and UPS.
 
 
+5 # brux 2012-09-07 13:09
The Post Office works ... whatever the Republicans have in mind will not work, but it will give their "class" another huge revenue stream in private hands to that they are ever stronger.
 
 
+5 # JCM 2012-09-07 09:01
There is always something to complain about in politics, sometimes bitterly. But what this election is about is the direction in which each party would want to take our country and both Clinton and Obama spelled that out in clear comparison. If you think that, reducing taxes mostly on the very wealthiest, reducing regulations that make it easier to steal and pollute, again, mostly to the benefit of the very wealthiest, after decades of this ideology that has reduced our country and the middle class, then nothing I or anyone else could say that would change your mind, you will vote for the Republicans. On the other hand if you believe in a society that includes government that regulates so that we are better protected against being ripped off and our environment to be polluted then you will vote Democratic. If you believe in a society that when you succeed you pay back into the society to help maintain its health and make it better for other people to succeed, then you will vote Democratic. Historically, our nation has prospered during times of high taxes for the wealthy and regulation has improved the total health of our nation both financially and the environment. There are many other issues that define where the parties would take us and if you are undecided a look at the party platforms might help.
 
 
+8 # pbbrodie 2012-09-07 09:08
The problem with your rant is that Bill Clinton isn't running for President. He was outlining why it would be a complete disaster if we failed to reelect President Obama and let Romney/Ryan in the White House. I defy you to name one single thing you wrote about that would be one iota better under Romney and not much, much worse!
 
 
+1 # brux 2012-09-07 13:03
While that is true, you are incorrect in deciphering the meaning of that. It was a mistake in my mind, but that does not negate what Clinton did or what Obama is doing either.

But, what would you do, who would you vote for?
 
 
+46 # ER444 2012-09-06 15:37
He convinced me!!
 
 
+17 # brux 2012-09-06 22:32
>> Republicans have eschewed all detail, all fact,
>> all logic. Theirs has been a campaign of
>> ideological bromides mixed with outright
>> bald-faced lies.

Bill Clinton could not have said that better himself!
 
 
+21 # JanneS 2012-09-06 23:40
I had told friends that someone needed to go to the Democratic convention armed with lots of charts to prove that Democratic presidents have been more beneficial to our country than Republican ones, and to show that Obama has accomplished much more than he's given credit for by Republicans (and more than even some Democrats are aware of). Clinton accomplished it without charts! Impressive speech!
 
 
+5 # Independentgal 2012-09-07 10:50
Yes! And I think Clinton left out one important thing: The stock market traditionally has done better when a Democrat is President. You'd think the right wingers would want to know that. The super rich don't care about that because they'll be well set no matter what, but their water carriers should care.
 
 
+25 # whatwehavehere. . 2012-09-07 00:09
Bill's was one of the most definitive speeches, which attacked every bogus argument the Republicans project in their years long campaign to oust Obama. Clinton talked about trying to work with Republicans. Obama tried, you could see in the beginning he really believed he could close the partisan divide but one can't work with a snake. It eventually bites you because that is who it was from the beginning. Clinton addressed that very issue. Republicans cared nothing about the country, the people, our credit rating! Their sole goal is to defeat Obama, make him appear weak through their refusal to cooperate despite the enormous damage they caused to the country, their party image in doing so! I have less respect for the Republican party than ever because their main goal was against a man they hated just because he became president! This is not a valid foundation from which to inspire confidence in direction for their party to lead.
Democrats to the Victory! President Obama is by far the better choice to lead the country.
 
 
+6 # Independentgal 2012-09-07 10:51
Excellent post!
 
 
-15 # seeuingoa 2012-09-07 00:15
How can a liberal vote for
someone with a kill list ?
 
 
+26 # pernsey 2012-09-07 06:32
Quoting seeuingoa:
How can a liberal vote for
someone with a kill list ?


How can a republican vote for someone who has no plan, no clue, and no conscience?
 
 
+16 # freeportguy 2012-09-07 06:47
Look at this: now blaming Omaba for getting Bin Laden?

Jealousy is a bitch, ain't it...
 
 
+13 # Phlippinout 2012-09-07 08:15
Yes, it is difficult for me seeuingoa. I hate the drowns and swore i would not vote. The reality is this, I will never have the opportunity to vote for someone I really believe in because by the time they get there, they have learned the game. We are pawns in this rich mans world, but i would rather be a pawn to someone who moves forward than someone who moves backward. Mostly I am voting for Obama because of the disrespect he has endured for four years. Why reward any group that sits on its butt and just says NO so that the man will fail? Unforgivable!
 
 
+1 # Phlippinout 2012-09-07 08:17
We will never have a leader that does not kill or have a kill list for the monetary gain of the imperialist US
 
 
+23 # angelfish 2012-09-07 00:20
From your lips to God's ears, Professor Reich! I thought President Clinton flushed the G.O.P. toilet with GREAT finesse and aplomb!
 
 
-6 # JAVAPARTYRULES 2012-09-07 00:38
Obama and the ill advised support of Israeli theft of land in Jerusalem may keep away enough Muslim and Arab Americans that he may lose some very important swing states with sizable populations. Jerusalem is no more Jewish than it is Muslim. Where exactly were the Jews when the Crusaders occupied it. 300000 Muslims died recovering it.
 
 
+1 # Art947 2012-09-07 10:31
Jerusalem as a "Moslem" holy city is a vast crock of BS!! Moslem worshippers don't face Jerusalem when they pray; the face their holy city of Mecca. Jerusalem has been a fundamental part of the Jewish tradition since the time of King David.
 
 
+1 # Independentgal 2012-09-07 10:54
The Jews were probably killed or had already left, or had been taken to Rome as slaves.
 
 
+2 # janie1893 2012-09-07 01:03
Death Squads??? silly!!
 
 
+12 # Kiwikid 2012-09-07 02:46
It was a superb speech! Clear and compellimng in the case for the re-election of Obama. It's time for all progressives to get behind this man and make sure he gets the chance to complete the job.
 
 
+5 # RLF 2012-09-07 04:47
Just the title of this piece on RSN is sooo misguided. Anericans don't vote on the basis of facts and figure or truth. they go with their guts, which means an emotional approach. The repubes are always walking over the Dems because they understand this. Americans just want a good slogan to believe in...not a bunch of facts they have to think about. Dems have done the emotive thing about as well as I have ever seen in this convention. Let's see if they can keep it up or if they will cave to the rich and corporate donors and water things to the point they say nothing at all...like usual. They are trying to work for the people in their speeches and the rich and corps in law to get their money. Can't serve two kings.
 
 
+10 # reiverpacific 2012-09-07 09:23
Quoting RLF:
Just the title of this piece on RSN is sooo misguided. Anericans don't vote on the basis of facts and figure or truth. they go with their guts, which means an emotional approach. The repubes are always walking over the Dems because they understand this. Americans just want a good slogan to believe in...not a bunch of facts they have to think about. Dems have done the emotive thing about as well as I have ever seen in this convention. Let's see if they can keep it up or if they will cave to the rich and corporate donors and water things to the point they say nothing at all...like usual. They are trying to work for the people in their speeches and the rich and corps in law to get their money. Can't serve two kings.

My favorite part was when B.C. pointed out the Rethug' statement on their campaign posters "We aren't going to let fact-checkers dictate our campaign". That says it all, what?
 
 
+17 # pernsey 2012-09-07 06:50
The RNC was so devoid of facts, merit, or any substance. The DNC showcased the things that theye have done, the republicans just want everyone to look at the negative. Its really old! Repbulicans just want their party to win, for some unknown reason, they couldnt care less about the truth...but just keep hammering home the Fox News non-facts and talking points as if they actually make sense...which they dont. Honestly the republicans total disregard for anyone but themselves is so apparent, I dont know how anyone could vote for them?

I dont think the dems are perfect, but damn they got some solutions if the GOP wasnt there obstructing everything, they arent just telling everyone they are going to give the rich a ton more money, and ruin the economy and expect me to act like thats a good thing. Fox news is never going to tell you the good stuff, but they lie and distort things to the point of ridiculousness. Honestly if you think MITT is going to do anything, and I mean anything for the middle class or for jobs, or anything for regular people your kidding yourself. The Obama bashing is what they do, do they have any solutions at all? Any substance...not really.

Mitt never has solutions, a plan, a strategy, he just changes his mind every other day...if you think we had issues when Bush was president, Mitt will be like Bush on steroids. He will dismantle this country faster then Bain can a failing business.
 
 
+7 # Art947 2012-09-07 10:33
A more important part of this message might be the FACT that Republicans couldn't care less about America, they only care about getting theirs while screwing everyone else!
 
 
+7 # tswhiskers 2012-09-07 10:13
Contrary to Persey's statement, Mitt always has a "plan." But apparently his plans are always TOP SECRET since he never seems to tell what his plans are. Clinton clearly answered each of the major Rep. charges against Obama and in so doing made it eaqually clear that the Rep. platform is built on air and anti-abortion. I'm with Pernsey, I suspect that all Republicans must be drunk on Fox News propaganda. Here is the (very) simple truth: if you have money, a whole lot of money, the Reps. will do their damndest to help you keep all of it. If you're pregnant, Reps. will see to it that you have that baby regardless of any financial or health problems regarding that pregnancy. If you don't have money except for a modest paycheck, you will get the privilege of paying more in taxes so those who have the big money can keep more of their money and pay even lower taxes than they are right now. There is the Republican platform in a nutshell. Oh, and Medicare/Medica id? Why should the great unwashed receive help with their medical costs when the health insurance business needs (?) it so much more? We'll get Vouchercare, i.e. tickets with which to buy health insurance. Of course medical insurance is expensive and costs rise all the time. Will those vouchers cover the costs of insurance? The Rep. answer is "Not our problem."
 
 
+5 # Mamazon 2012-09-07 17:28
The purpose of this article was to inspire us to use what the speeches at the DNC gave us to educate people who need it. Say what you want about Obama's failures -- the Democratic ticket is still so much better than the Romney/Ryan ticket. They are just mean-spirited Ayn Randian mysogynist racists who don't give a damn about anything but themselves and their corporate masters. The election of Obama is necessary to advance the values of good on the planet... So stop whining and bickering -- that just plays into the Kock Bros plan to make us all serfs again. Get off your ass and let's get Obama and a Democratic Congress elected and then stay involved in the democratic process to fight for the issues that matter to us -- whatever they may be.
 
 
-3 # noitall 2012-09-07 17:57
He said, she said, whatever...they all belong to the same club, and you ain't in it. We go through this every four years and are expected to get all excited when NONE of the candidates truly represent US. I vote for the one that I figure might do us the least damage although these days, the damage is being dealt out liberally by all the "viable" candidates. OUR candidates can't even debate the issues because they might actually bring up issues. Anyone mention the treatment of patriotic 'whistle blowers' or our cowardly drone warfare, or the fact that our rights to everything have been whittled away? You ain't going to hear anything like that out of either of our two parties. Sorry for that!
 
 
+1 # JanneS 2012-09-07 22:33
I suggest Obama fire his speech writers and hire Bill Clinton! Or hire Clinton to give his speeches by proxy! I admire Obama and will vote for him again, but Clinton is a better orator and fact demonstrator!
 

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