The decision to have Bill Clinton speak tonight is a tactical error. Yes, he will give a great speech. Yes, he will make a great case for re-election. Yes, he will get a lot of media attention. However, all of his positives come with a price.
Many political pundits, campaign commentators, and election enthusiasts seem to be struck by long term memory loss. Bill Clinton was first elected with 43.01% of the popular vote. Remove Ross Perot from the equation and Bush 41 is definitely re-elected, and possibly by a landslide of over 14,000,000 votes. Bill was re-elected with 49.23% of the vote. State by state analysis shows that there was a possible, maybe even likely Dole win with 288 electoral votes, IF once again there was no Ross Perot. Additionally, this was a low turn out year. Only 49% of the voting age population turned out to cast their ballot. So, his ability to inspire voters in the first place is very questionable. This is only the third biggest negative.
Coming in second place is the likelihood of Bill supporting Bill, and you know he will. His speech will hit the mark for what he wants, but is that Obama FOR four more years, or Hillary IN four more years? While conceivably overshadowing the entire event, he will likely promote himself and his wife. To do so he will talk about how great things were during his Presidency. He will paint a verbal picture of times many remember and cherish. Using the flawed prism of nostalgia, he will engage the audience in a whimsical walk down memory lane. Which brings us to the main reason his speech will not help President Obama's gain a second term.
The primary reason President Clinton's speech will not help President Obama is that it draws a sharp contrast between the 1990's and his perceived good times, and where we are as a nation today. Every bright and broad stroke Clinton paints on his shrine - is at the same time a dark grey splashed upon Obama's altar. The illusion of a bright past will serve to dim the reality of the current moment.
This contrast of realities, perceived or real, will make the case for four more years much more effete.
Tonight we will hear President Clinton talk about prosperity and a strong middle class from a time now only a part of history. Tomorrow we will hear President Obama's plan about moving us "Forward", and why he needs four more years to achieve the past. Friday we will get the most recent jobs report that will remind us all of where we are today. The election will not be held in 1996, or in 2016, it will be held in 9 weeks.
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