The Big Dog Speaks

Presidrent Clinton.jpgPresident Clinton spoke to us on Friday night.  It was so worth getting up at 4:30 in the morning in Seattle and taking a cab to the airport to make it to his talk at 8:00 at night in Pittsburgh.  The man is brilliant at articulating issues and speaking directly to his audience.   Simon Rosenberg, who worked for President Clinton starting in 1992 and is now founder and head of the New Democrats Network, introduced President Clinton by reminding us that Clinton did not have a netroots to back him up and challenge him.  It was a shock to realize the truth in that, that our participation in the national conversation has made a huge difference.  And we weren't there then.  In his talk with us, he spoke directly to us as bloggers, talking about how important the work we do is and about how critical it is that we help the country understand the issues of our time.

Clinton remains brilliant and articulate.  He is off doing some amazing things through his foundation, rather quietly.  What he mostly talked to us about was his picture of politics.  He said we have entered a new era of politics that could last 30-40 years.  The Republicans began their era with the mid-term elections of 1966.  Republicans developed a messages that exploited the resentment of the times.  The "silent majority" was a code word for racism.  With Reagan, the corporate side of the Republican party got brought together with the cultural side.  
He went on to say that all politics is based on three things:

  • The underlying political equation
  • The conditions of the times
  • The quality of the candidates

The culture is now with us.  The country is now self-consciously communitarian.  (Don't you just love that term to define this sense we have that we are now focused on doing what is best for us as a whole?)  And, of course, we have great candidates.  He reminded us that California is now a no-majority state and that the entire country will likely be a no-majority country by 2050.

He talked about the how the Republicans are sitting around rooting for this President to fail.  (And, we heard the next morning from Senator Specter - post yet to come - that the Republicans circulated around themselves that they were going to "break Obama".  It was general - not around the stimulus package or healthcare or any single issue.)  


Clinton said that the Republicans know they have no chance to best Obama's healthcare unless they can terrorize people.  That's what the screamers are all about.  He talked about the the difficulties with discussing healthcare.  

  1. Healthcare is complex, which makes it easy to honestly misunderstand it and dishonestly manipulate around it.
  2. Healthcare savings are hard to cost.  The cost numbers are easier to account for and the savings numbers are harder to estimate.
  3. Nothing is so difficult to change as the established order, as Machiavelli once said.  Rephrasing for our times, Clinton said that those who have it, know what they will lose and those who will benefit don't understand what the gains will be.
Clinton reiterated what Obama has said.  The worst thing would be sticking with the status quo.  We have to figure out the 3-4 things that everyone wants and include those and not include the 3-4 things that no one wants.  Clinton also added that it is politically imperative to pass a healthcare bill now.  He said the minute that Obama signs a healthcare bill, his approval ratings will go up and after a year, once the bad things don't happen and the good things start to happen, the Democrats approval ratings will explode.  

Climate Change

The Clinton Foundation has worked extensively on climate issues.  He talked about the importance of changing the options for financing the retrofitting of houses to improve efficiency.  Outside of California, there is almost no way to finance retrofitting.  California allows utilities to finance retrofitting of houses and a large number of people have taken advantage of that.  He mentioned that the banks are sitting on a very, very large amount of cash that they could be lending and if they were to lend for retrofitting purposes, it would be a pretty easy win for all.  

Last Thoughts

One of the joys of listening to Clinton was realizing how he (as is true with Hillary in her role as SoS) is not allowing any daylight between him and Obama.  So welcome.  He left us two things.  

  • A plea for the need to focus on poverty.  He said that they moved 100 times more people out of poverty in the 8 years of his administration than the Republicans had in the previous 12 years.
  • It is an honor for all of us to be alive now.  We can't ask the President to do this work alone.  Nor Congress.  We have good people in government but it is up to us to help them.


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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Allen published on August 15, 2009 10:46 AM.

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