You could see all the rhetorical sleights of hand, the magic of a delivery, the wit of the argument, the sarcastic sallies against the other side. All of that was in former President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. But it was clear, as he spoke, that his client was guilty of being a very bad president who has accomplished very little.
President Clinton’s record is by now so well known that each of us was silently mouthing to ourselves as he spoke about the contrast between his record and Obama’s. “We face a long hard slog to recovery” he intoned. But we remembered how he created 6 million new net jobs right after he took office (by the end of 1994). “We need to lay a solid foundation for a future economy,” he said. But we all realized that Obama has increased the debt by $6 trillion. Hardly a solid foundation. When Clinton criticized the Republicans for doubling the debt after his administration left office, we all said to ourselves “and Obama tripled it."
The low point of Clinton’s speech was when he boldly charged into the fray – like the charge of the light brigade – and said that we are better off today than we were four years ago! Four years ago, with the U.S. unemployment rate at just 6 percent, was worse than today with 8.3 percent? Four years ago, with just a $10 trillion debt, it was somehow not as good as today with a $16 trillion debt? Clinton’s arguments were obviously inadequate and sought to do something that cannot be done: speaking positively of Obama’s record.
In his obvious inability to win the argument, Clinton showed us how weak it is. As he recited his statistics, we came to understand how hollow they are. Is this all he can say about Obama’s record we all asked?
Even watching Clinton up there at the podium in Charlotte underlined the difference between his administration and Obama’s. We could see how far Obama’s record fell short of Clinton’s. It was obvious that Clinton balanced the budget while Obama tripled the deficit. It was obvious that Clinton created a net of 23 million new jobs while Obama has lost almost a million net even now. When Clinton had to go back to 1961 to generate positive job numbers, it was clear that something was weak in the case.
Now the attention turns to Obama. He has to do everything. He needs to make the attack on Ryan and Romney. He has to justify his record. He has to paint his vision for the future. So far none of this has happened in the first two days of the convention.
Dick Morris is a Fox News contributor and author. His latest book is "Screwed!: How Foreign Countries Are Ripping America Off and Plundering Our Economy-and How Our Leaders Help Them Do It." Visit his website: www.dickmorris.com and follow him on Twitter@dickmorris.