Thursday, September 6, 2012

Arithmetic and Reagan vs. Clinton

Bill Clinton gave an amazing speech tonight.  He killed it.  He slaughtered it.  He had many of us ready to charge up San Juan Hill.

I'm not the only one who thought that - and it's not all Democrats:

“This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama.” — Top Republican strategist and CNN yacker Alex Castellanos just after Clinton’s speech.

One of my favorite (set of) quotes came from TPM's Josh Marshall:

10:37 PM: Still a mystery to me why Republicans spent the last month building Bill up when he’s going to slip them the shiv like no one else... 11:18 PM: This is starting to remind me of when my Daddy taught me to gut and clean fish. I think we’re at scraping off the scales now.

So while I amassed all this info on January, 2009, versus now, I'm going to let that wait for another day - because I just don't think there's anything to add to what Bubba said - and instead do two things that are probably more fun.  First, I'm going to give you a video of the whole Clinton speech, and then two of the highlights.  Then, I'm going to indulge us in a fun (for me at least) scenario: Who would win in a debate between Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan - both in their presidential prime?

Full Speech (and really, it was mostly highlights, just hit after hit, succinct, witty argument after succinct, witty argument - so watch the whole thing if you have the time):

Highlights (in 2 parts):

The video highlights don't have all of this part:

We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think "we're all in this together" is a better philosophy than "you're on your own."
Who's right? Well since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us...

So back to the story. In 2010, as the President's recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around.
The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95% of the American people. In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But last year, the Republicans blocked the President's jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here's another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, Congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama – the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.
The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs, not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country. That's why even auto-makers that weren't part of the deal supported it. They needed to save the suppliers too. Like I said, we're all in this together.
Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured. Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here's another jobs score: Obama two hundred and fifty thousand, Romney, zero.

He's just a crazy-effective politician.

...And Now, on to Clinton versus Reaganwho would win?

My money, as always, is on Clinton.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Reagan was awesome with a quip.  Give that man a good line, and he'd just nail it ("There you go again."  "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."  "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'").  But Clinton can wield a quip with the best of them.  Check out his delivery of "Arithmetic" tonight.  So here I say it's a draw.

  • Clinton can make complex ideas seem simple.  He has a gift for grasping the most important part of a policy concept and distilling the best way for most people to understand and remember it.  He's not Luntz-ian (Frank Luntz, the guy who coined terms like "The Death Tax") - he's not about catch phrases, he just explains things really well.  Reagan had a bit of that, but I think that Reagan would explain things wrong often enough - in a public enough way - that it would undercut his efficacy.

  • Reagan would go off on tangents.  Ones that most people didn't care about, like the Panama Canal and SDI (Star Wars).  Clinton can meander, but when he needs to be clear and concise, he always is.

But it would be a battle worth seeing.  If only to watch the two men try to out-charm each other.  

So am I right, does Clinton win the matchup?  What do you think?


  1. It's really hard to say. Both of them have that "aw shucks" quality tht draws people in. Reagan was the master of timing, while Clinton can really stick in a knife. Reagan can stick a knife in too, but because he's so old, he can get away with it more effectively than Clinton can. All in all, I would give it to Reagan in his prime. If they went up against each other head to head, Clinton would look like he was beating up on his grandfather, and no one wants to see that.

  2. There's probably something to that - the age factor - that would limit some part of the knife-fighting that Clinton could do. That said, Clinton also beat Dole (who was in no way as charming as Reagan, but was older and in real life - not in the campaign - is really funny).