Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bill Clinton and Joe Biden Do Their Part

Tonight's was a hard speech for Bill Clinton to deliver, probably as hard as the one he had to give owning up to the Lewinsky connection. Yet, how great is our democracy when it can make a former president of the United States eat his words and utter new ones in deep contradiction to what he has been feeling inside for the last year on the campaign trail. At any moment, I was waiting for a gaffe, back-handed compliment, a freudian slip, a faux pas. He spoke ponderously today, more steadily and slowly than he normally does. No extemporaneity, because he couldn't afford to slip and make a mistake. He picked up steam though, and was much better when he threw anti-Republican jibes than when he was praising Obama. In his denunciations he was no longer halting; Bubba was back on the roll. For all our talk of how American elections have become personality-centered, and despite the humongous shadow that Bill Clinton has cast on the Democratic party, even he had to yield and tow the party line. And that, I think, puts democracy in The Democracy.

Tonight Biden delivered the red meat for his democratic audience in earthy, urgent tones. Biden doesn't need to deliver the poetry, he can leave that to the top of the ticket. His job is to attack, to connect with town hall questioners, to conduct retail politics. Tomorrow, with calculated counterpoise, Obama will deliver his signature oratory - half-sermon, half-recital - and it will elicit more thundering applause, because of the size of INVESCO field, than any other nomination acceptance speech in the history of the republic has received. The meeting of hands however, do not guarantee the changing of hearts, and the newly crowned Democratic nominee should not allow the applause to get to his head.

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