POLITICS
11/30/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bill Clinton And Obama Still Strangers

So the first and last episode of the Barack and Bill Show took place last night in Kissimmee, Florida, with some 35,000 regular people in attendance, along with an all-star roster of journos (Jake Tapper! Margaret Carlson! Adam Nagourney -- with his boss Bill Keller in tow!!!) shivering in the cold but pleased as hell to be there. ...

Yet the very sloppy-wetness of the two-way tongue bath made the whole thing seem a little forced. Clinton, naturally, was laboring mightily to ensure that not a single word or gesture would get him dinged (as he has been repeatedly in the past few months, and with good reason) for being anything less than 100 percent behind Obama. But beyond the histrionics, the substance of his speech was formulaic, a gussied-up set of cookie-cutter talking points. The four reasons he cited for supporting Obama -- his philosophy, his policies, his decision-making ability, and his capacity as a chief executive -- could have been applied to any nominee of his party; there wasn't a single warm personal anecdote or characterological insight (both specialties of Clinton's when he's speaking about someone he actually, you know, likes). As Clinton orated, Obama looked on with an expression that conveyed no greater satisfaction, let alone thrill, than if he were being endorsed by the mayor of Orlando. He grinned occasionally, but the million-megawatt smile that he unleashes when he's truly psyched was nowhere to be seen.

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