At the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton will be given the most prominent role, after the president. Clinton's speech promises to be a scorcher
Clinton has the Wednesday headlining gig, and Democrats said he could unload on the GOP in a way Obama simply can’t.
“Obama can’t say what Bill Clinton can, which is ‘I got screwed. I got this job and every Republican made a blood pact to screw me.’ He can’t say that. It may be true, but he can’t. But Bill Clinton can,” one veteran operative said Sunday.
If Bill Clinton can forgive Obama
, so can I. I guess. At any rate, I find the New Yorker
's view of their testy relationship a lot more convincing than Ed Klein's right-wing fantasies.
For Obama, the reconciliation could help him win in November. It’s also an ideological turnaround: Obama, who rose to the Oval Office in part by pitching himself as the antidote to Clintonism, is now presenting himself as its heir apparent. It’s a shrewd, even Clintonian, tactical maneuver.
Clinton, it seems, has advised Obama to paint Romney not as a flip-flopper but as a far-right ideologue. The two critiques are diametrically opposed, of course. I think Clinton is wise: Although this country keeps getting nuttier each year, we still aren't ready to be led by the ghosts of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell.
Besides -- although Clinton can't say it out loud, Obama is also highly vulnerable on the flip-flop charge. NAFTA provides the most obvious example. It's hard to name a major issue on which Obama has not
taken more than one position. (Afghanistan, perhaps.) Of course, all of his flips have landed him to the right of where he started, so you probably won't see the Republicans critique him on those grounds.
If undecided voters see Romney as the epitome of flippity-floppitiness, they will rationalize that Mitt's final flip may land him in a reasonable position. If, on the other hand, they see Mitt as one point in a line that runs from Todd Akin to Glenn Beck, that sort of rationalization won't work.
The problem with Clinton's advice is obvious. "Flip flop" is an argument that could depress turnout among movement conservatives, who never felt comfortable with Romney. Conceding that Romney is
a movement conservative will only fire up his base.
On the other hand, I doubt that the hard right will listen to a word that Team Obama has to say. The Democrats have to direct their message to the persuadable.
In that light, you may want to see this:
That's Matthew Dowd, the GOP strategist who put Dubya in office, ripping into the Romney campaign's approach. I think Dowd is among those conservatives who believe that his party has simply gone too crazy. There's hope for this country if the electorate penalizes the far right for its contempt of reality.