It was the kind of speech that sent Democrats into a giddy orbit of pure, unadulterated love. Their rock star, Bill Clinton, delivered the sort of sincere, rousing, rallying cry they wish Barack Obama could. The social media sites Twitter and Facebook were like a streaming Bubba fan page as the former president stood at the podium with the excitement of The Beatles, the cool of Elvis, the charisma of Sinatra, the passion of Bono and the moves of James Brown. Quite simply, he dazzled.
Clinton said what needed to be said. And he pulled no punches in punching the living daylights out of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, which he accused of bringing the country to the brink of financial ruin and who now wants to be back in the driver's seat. "We left him a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in," Clinton mocked.
But it wasn't until the end of his speech, as Clinton was met onstage by Obama in a hug that Romney and Paul Ryan wish they were secure enough in their manhood to pull off, that the stark contrast between the two men became painfully clear. Clinton's magic, which is so woefully lacking in Obama, is his rapacious hunger for the spotlight and a genuine love of politics and politicians. Clinton absorbs it all like an addicted sponge, while Obama rejects it all like a saturated sponge. Sure, he's totally in love with himself, but that doesn't matter. Democrats love him even more.
As the former and current president exited stage right, Clinton slowly sauntered towards backstage, beaming in all his uber-affable narcissistic glory, basking in the afterglow of his Messianic impact, shaking hands and chatting up supporters, Obama was the picture of disconnection, disinterest and disdain for the entire process as he impatiently waited for Bill to end the lovefest. Between his body language and the look on his face, it's as if he was saying, "C'mon Bill. Can we leave.? Enough already. I need to get the hell out of here. Jeez, he's still touching people...eeewwwww. I don't get why he loves this crap so much. Bill...Bill....let's go! I'll just have to go grab him by the arm and lead him out."
And that's just what Obama did. It was an extremely telling moment. It was clear Clinton hated leaving, and it was equally clear Obama hated staying. It's precisely that obvious contempt for the game, coupled with an inability to truly connect, genuinely connect, with voters--especially white, blue-collar men--that is Obama's Achilles heel. A liability big enough to, as the Republicans wish, send him back to Chicago in January if he doesn't soon find his mojo.