It's good to see Bill Clinton looking so healthy. He has given up meat after his heart operation, but his performance Wednesday night proves he can still handle a whopper.
It was vintage Bill Clinton -- wonky, funny, overlong and drawn out, self-centered and fundamentally untrue. His biggest applause lines came when he "contrasted" job creation under Democratic and Republican administrations. He went all the way back to 1961. He told us the Democrats have held the White House 24 years since that date; Republicans were in the Oval Office 28 years. Then, he proceeded to his point-by-point comparison. All plausible -- even applausable -- if you forgot who ran Congress in those years.
Both Houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats for 32 of the 52 years Clinton chose to compare. They controlled at least one house for all of Reagan's eight years. They controlled at least one house for four of George W. Bush's eight years. So Bill Clinton's side-by-side comparison can only be believed if you forget about Congress.
The former president spoke for a record 49 minutes 32 seconds. Granted, he was interrupted repeatedly by rapturous applause. I thought he could have given us a briefer version of his speech by simply belting out the hit tune from Broadway's Annie.
The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
There'll be sun!
Just thinkin' about Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!
I was reminded of the dialog between Alice and the Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.
"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today" said the Queen
"It must come sometime to jam today," Alice objected
"No it can't," said the Queen "It's jam every other day. Today isn't any other day, you know"
Trim and silvered, he strode onstage to his own campaign song: "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow." For liberals, it's always tomorrow. For the left, generally, tomorrow is a lot more fun than today. Vperiod! Forward! That was Lenin's cry at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. They were always summoning their people to look beyond the suffering of today and think about the "shining heights" of socialism just ahead. Keep marching. No one ever dared to mention there is such a thing as marching toward a mirage.
Listening to Bill Clinton can make you forget four years of unemployment above 8 percent, a national debt increasing to $16 trillion and a future endangered by out-of-control federal spending. Take just this week: the Obama administration plans to "forgive" Egypt's new Islamist government $1 billion in debt, just write it off. So, now, we have to borrow that billion from the Chinese and put our children's future further at risk in order to try to appease Mohamed Morsi. He's coming to Washington later this month to press President Obama to release the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman. The sheikh is an Egyptian serving a life sentence for trying to blow up the World Trade Center during Bill Clinton's first months as president.
One of the problems of treating terrorism as a criminal justice issue is that the jailed terrorists tend not to stay jailed.
But to hear Bill Clinton's speech, you would think America is once again respected and loved throughout the world, thanks to Barack Obama's wisdom in choosing Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
Everyone agreed that Hillary should be nowhere near the Charlotte Convention Center while Democrats were busy trying to renominate Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If you think the delegates on the convention floor were restive and resentful being forced to swallow platform language that acknowledged God is still God and Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel, can anyone imagine what would have happened if Hillary had put in an appearance?
There might have been a stampede to put her on the ticket and dump Joe Biden.
Johnson's forces feared that a powerful speech by Bobby in tribute to his slain brother, JFK, might sweep the delegates to put him on the ticket instead of Minnesota's Humphrey.
Bill Clinton took us back to 1961 in his speech in order to make the numbers fit. But he might remember the 1964 Democratic National Convention. That year, Lyndon B. Johnson had tapped Hubert H. Humphrey to be his vice presidential candidate. LBJ's operatives had to go out of their way to put the much-anticipated speech by Robert F. Kennedy after the presidential and vice presidential nominations were wrapped up.
So, it's a good thing that Hillary was on the other side of the world. She could not be drafted for vice president. She was busy getting snubbed by China's vice president.
I love the way Bill Clinton bragged about the balanced budgets he produced. He vetoed every budget bill the majority Republican Congress sent him, even forcing the government to shut down, and blaming it all on Newt. Then, he finally "triangulated" on the budget. And he gets the credit.
He vetoed welfare reform twice until he was reminded that he had promised to "end welfare as we know it." So he signed the bill the Republicans arm-twisted him into signing. And now he claims the credit for it.
My favorite Bill Clinton whopper was his middle-of-the-night signing of the Defense of Marriage Act. He dissed it. His spokesman called it a lousy piece of legislation. Then, Bill Clinton took out ads on Christian radio stations bragging about signing -- you guessed it -- the Defense of Marriage Act.
Well, you gotta know marriage was in trouble if it took Bill Clinton to defend it!
Bill Clinton reminds us of Adlai Stevenson's jibe at Tricky Dick Nixon: "He's the kind of politician who would chop down a redwood and then mount the stump to give a speech on conservation."
But George Stephanopoulos may have said it best: Bill Clinton has no shame -- and that's a big advantage in politics.
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Ken Blackwell, executive vice president of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He was vice chairman of the 2008 GOP Platform Committee.