Monica Who? Ancient history for Democrats.
Former President Bill Clinton basked in his party’s adulation tonight, then stood with surprise guest President Obama and hoped his uncanny popularity was rubbing off in living rooms around the nation.
The two of them hugging on stage would have been considered an unlikely sight four years ago when Obama was in a bruising fight with Clinton’s wife for the nomination.
But that, too, was a distant memory tonight. Clinton avoided potential pitfalls throughout his 50-minute speech. He took shots at Mitt Romney, but didn’t settle for just that. Clinton also overcame his tendency to withhold full-throated endorsements of his peers, backing Obama without reservation as the man to return America to prosperity. And he managed to remind voters of the muscular economy he presided over in the 1990s without sullying Obama with the comparison.
Some voters still remember Clinton more for his moral failings than for leading the nation during a time of great economic strength. But not many. His approval ratings – 69 percent in a USA Today/Gallup poll last month - are higher than they were on his inauguration day in 1993. Almost two of three independents and even almost half of Republicans give him high marks.
So he was an obvious choice to be the opening act, even if there was a risk of overshadowing the main event.
Obama "stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children," Clinton said.
It is testament to Clinton’s political skills that he looked the American public in the eye and lied in 1998, and yet Democrats found him utterly believable Wednesday night.
A president has never won reelection in an economy this bad. But Clinton’s climb from impeachment to widespread popularity was a first. Now with Clinton’s help, Obama might pull off another.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Posted by The Observer Editorial Board at 1:24 PM