Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Even in Being a Good Husband, Bill Clinton Puts Hillary Clinton to Shame

Some were kvetching early in his speech last night that President Bill Clinton was going on too long.

This after Trump's 77 minute Hitler Youth speech.

"Bill Clinton is fond of telling a story about his commitment, at times halting, to playing the part of political spouse to Hillary Clinton, as she’s made the climb from senator from New York to Secretary of State, and now to the Democrats’ presidential nominee."

“When I left the White House and Hillary went into the Senate in New York, I told her, I said, ‘For 26 years you have made a lot of sacrifices for my public life. So I’ll give you the next 26 years and if I’m still around we will fight about what we are going to do after that,’” Clinton said in an interview with CNN two years ago. “So we are just over a little halfway through the second 26 years and whatever she wants is fine with me.”

"He didn’t tell that story in his keynote address at the Democratic convention Tuesday night, but he hinted at it. The unspoken purpose of Clinton’s speech was to make good on his half of the commitment. And the unspoken confession was that for the first 26 years, she did a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes on his behalf, the brass tacks of public service, while he politicked and traveled and made “fun” speeches. Illustrating this point required Clinton to run through a nearly 30-minute chronology, year by year, starting in 1971, of their life together—a recitation that drew gentle mockery on social media from reporters (including me) who wondered if he would go on too long."

"We were wrong to wonder."

Again, after Trump's 77 minute monstrosity have some perspective. I for one, can't get enough of Bill's stories of how they met. It really is a sweet story. How he liked her but could only stare at her until she had to approach him.

"Clinton wasn’t there to atone for benefiting from her work ethic, or for at times being as much of an impediment as an asset to her political career. As NPR’s Steve Inskeep wrote, “he’s painting an extended portrait of a human being, who’s often talked about as if she isn’t.”

"Clinton gave an audience of millions, most of whom don’t have time to read political biographies, a different framework for understanding his wife. His implicit point was that Hillary spent the first 26 years of their 52-year bargain gaining all of the skills required to be a political leader, and experiencing all of the partisan scrutiny of a political principal, but without the platform or hardscrabble upbringing required to shape her identity, the way he did as a boy from Hope, or John Edwards did as the son of a millworker."

"Before her 26 years began, Hillary had already been defined as a shrew and a criminal by the same political enemies who now join the conservative grassroots in chanting for her imprisonment. On Tuesday night her husband sought to redefine her, by telling the story of the first 40-some years of that bargain, marked not by ghoulish conspiracy theories like the ones surrounding Benghazi and the death of Vince Foster, but by the behind-the-scenes diligence that powered everything she did. Her parenting while he watched a Police Academy marathon, her successful collaboration with Republicans in Congress (most of whom raved about her when they worked together), her success at “put[ting] climate change at the center of our foreign policy,” and everything in between."

"How does this square with the things you heard at the [Republican convention]?,” Clinton asked “You can’t. One is real. And one is made up. … You nominated the real one.”

"The GOP’s reflexive response to this speech, and certainly Donald Trump’s reflexive response, will be to train all their sights on her, relitigate some imagined or overblown controversy, hoping to ensure that a more favorable impression of Hillary doesn’t harden. And they’ll do it because they know his speech was good, and, at bottom, more believable than the story they tell."

Some genius of course went there.

"Tonight, Hillary Clinton made history. Do you think someone should have brought up Monica Lewinsky?" Listen to yourselves, you shitheads."

Pathetic. But it says it all. Hillary has had to do so much to prove her very legitimacy. Even now there is a ragged subset of Bernie or Busters who are claiming the 'process was rigged.'

Point is her enemies again and again try to delegitimize her. Even as she makes history some want her to again atone for her husband's infidelities that she was the victim of.

Still, a point that the feminist Erica Jong made in the 90s was that with all those GOP Congressman waxing so sanctimonious about Bill's conduct, the big difference between he and most male politicians is that at least he appreciates the sacrifices and pain he imposed on his wife.

He was a flawed man but a good man.

But compare Bill to Trump:

Bill Clinton just gave Hillary Clinton all credit for raising Chelsea well. In all the Trump kids' praise, their mothers went unmentioned."

What has been missed is that Trump did more than fail to praise Melania; he actually left her holding the bag on plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech.

He did it deliberately. He said 'Everyone's been so great to Melania, and said it wasn't her fault.'

But then he went on to tell a story that left it as her fault.

Bill Clinton has never done that.

"Bill Clinton’s been waiting to give a “Republicans have been lying about Hillary” speech in prime time for 25 years. He’ll take his time."

It needed to be said. For someone who never bought the negative caricature of the Right and many in the media, it was such a welcome moment. 

"This convention isn't tearing Donald down. He did that himself. This convention is building Hillary up."

After all the hysterical lies, the truth finally got a hearing. 

History made.


  1. Erickson thought Bill's speech was pretty good. So did his colleague Steve Berman. Here's Erickson's piece:


  2. What has been missed is that Trump did more than fail to praise Melania; he actually left her holding the bag on plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech.

    As Bill Maher said, that's why he kept the box she came in. So he can send her back once she hits 50.

  3. Mike, I don't understand your title: Why does Bill put Hillary to shame? Shouldn't that be "Donald Trump" rather than "Hillary Clinton?" You smokin' the good stuff this morning???

  4. Mike, did you see Maddow's reaction to the speech? I found it a little surprising. She liked the way it ended but was critical of how it started because it didn't sound very feminist to her and it was too much about Bill (I guess).

    I think Erickson's take is better in this case. To see his speech as controversial seems a stretch to me. Well anyway, I was surprised by her reaction.