07.27.2016 07:10 AM

The ballot question: Bill Clinton defines the choice in 2016

He looked older. He sounded older. He isn’t the guy he was twenty years ago. And, yes, my mind strayed once or twice to that terrible time when he hurt his wife and daughter.

But it was a master speech by a master story teller – and all about her, not him. Her achievements, not his. Brilliantly, he zeroed in on her main weakness – her persona, her occasional inability to connect – and painted a wonderful, compelling picture of a good person.

At the end, he also laid out the ballot question. As I told Charles Adler on Sirius XM last night, the ballot question is now just one thing: Donald Trump. And Bill Clinton framed the ballot question in this way:

See what he did there? The choice is between a familiar, proven, positive, effective reality – or an unknown, untested, unpleasant, unimpressive cartoon.

That’s the choice.


  1. Darren H says:

    People can take what they will from that odd speech. You’re right, he laid out the choice this way:
    a) You can vote for the wild card who is maybe, or maybe not full of shit in his rhetoric, probably should belong in a federal prison and should not be trusted with the nuclear football due to inexperience and bad judgment. Not to mention fits the profile of a sociopath
    b) You can double-down on the status quo which by most accounts is not working and could make things much much worse, probably should belong in a federal prison and should not be trusted with the nuclear football due to her poisoned relationship with the other nuclear superpower and her hawkish nature. Not to mention fits the profile of a sociopath

    Terrible choices, and could lead to the lowest (or highest) voter turnout in history. Where is a good decent third party choice when you need it. Ross Perot missed his golden opportunity by 24 years.

  2. Peter says:

    The choice is between a familiar, proven, positive, effective reality…

    Well, it seems that this year an awful lot of Americans see that as a bug, not a feature.

  3. Sean_ says:

    Government messing up a two car parade. That’s funny.
    He has lost a bit of his force, starting to look like a healthy vegan, but is still a star.

  4. Gilbert says:

    I found it to be a very boring speech.

  5. Luke says:

    I hope she wins.

  6. Tired of it All says:

    1) He’s still a master. Sure, it was a little rambling, but he had to get on record what no one knows about her public policy work. It’s extensive. Now it’s soundbiteable.
    2) Like any public servant, she’s got successes and failures. The successes are so structural, they are yawn worthy but hugely important. They are also totally un-sexy. But that’s what a good public servant looks like.
    3) She’s wooden. You can’t change that. She’s a wonk at heart, and very able. Folks react to that, more than the solidity of her record. It’s too bad.
    4) If not for her stint as SecState, her record would be peerless. But, the toughest job outside of POTUS left dings in the amour. It was going to happen. On a balance, she was a very good SecState.

    Between the two, there is really no choice, and as you said, Sanders winning the nomination meant a Trump presidency, full stop. She’ll need to do more for the heartland, but that line about the West Virginian coal miners is the heart of the matter. You can’t unchange the world.

  7. doconnor says:

    You’re being pretty soft on Trump. He is a incoherient, hatefilled narcissist with the intelligence of Rob Ford and the paranoia of Richard Nixon. If elected he will either be quickly impeached or destroy American democracy.

  8. Francis says:

    Between Michelle Obama’s powerful speech, Bernie Sanders’ passionate plea for support for Hillary in the fight against Trump, Bill Clinton’s heartwarming speech and Obama’s coming speech, the Democrats have a shit load of fire power behind Hillary.

    If I’m looking out at the campaign trail ahead and I’m strategizing for the Clinton campaign, I see the massive potential of having an arsenal of recognizable and beloved speakers to tap into. It allows Democrats to create a coalition of popular, loveable, and optimistic individuals to advocate on behalf of Clinton. On the flip side, I don’t see anyone even remotely capable of inspiring that kind of optimism in voters on Trump’s side. Just about anyone remotely likeable on the Republican side has distanced themselves from Trump, leaving only the nuttiest of the fringe to speak on behalf of Trump.

    The quality of people who you have representing you to voters matters greatly. If this is a battle for likability then Trump has already set himself up for a loss.

  9. Gord says:

    Nice…..if you want another term just like the last two. Unfortunately for her 70% of Americans think that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

    For an impeached ex president though Bill speech was nice.

    • Michael Bluth says:

      Impeaching Bill was bullshit and payback for Watergate. The rest of your post does have some merit though.

      The first part of your post is one of the two big reasons why Hillary and Trump are neck and neck in the polls. I don’t think an incumbent party has ever held the White House with the right track/wrong track number so heavily on the wrong track side.

      People are pissed off. When they are angry they take it out on the incumbent at the ballot box. Not Hillary’s fault.

      The second big reason for Hillary not crushing Trump is valid concerns about her honesty and credibility. Going all the way back to Whitewater, to the Goldman Sachs speeches, to the private email server swing voters do have reasonable concerns about Hillary.

      • Luke says:

        It is sort of Hillary’s fault. She and her team have chosen to really dig into the idea of her being the incumbent to Obama, and continuation of sorts to his presidency. She could have instead chosen to recognize the anger that is out there, including on the left, and answer it by casting herself as the person with the most intimate knowledge of the workings and failures of government and thus the best person to fix it. She would have embraced her perceived negatives and positives, and admitted that she is who she is: tough, private and thus appearing secretive, privileged but hardworking, part of the establishment, etc.. Admitting those things could start to dent the perception of her being untrustworthy, and there is nothing wrong with being aware of ones negatives. Especially when she CAN turn some of them around (established and privileged) as putting her in the best position to reform the broken system in which she has been immersed for so long.

        She has no control over the Dems being in the incumbent position, but there is no incumbent presidential candidate, and she can define her campaign in such a way as to respect both the Obama administration’s achievements and the anger a large swath of the American public is feeling towards the government and elite class at this time.

  10. Allen says:

    I live on a quiet street in Hamilton, and invite folks to come by and take a swing at me.

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