For the second straight night, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer bucked the trend of the television punditry and criticized a Democratic National Convention keynote speaker, in this case former President Bill Clinton.
In an appearance during Fox News Channel’s coverage of the convention, Krauthammer said the 42nd president of the United States under-delivered with his speech.
“I think it was a giant swing and a miss,” Krauthammer said. “Mighty Casey — and Bill Clinton is a natural — he struck out on this. I don’t think it would move the needle whatsoever. Look, it had all the classic Clinton elements — it was engaging, it was humorous. In some cases, it was generous: I think there were more mentions of the Bushes than I heard in three days in Tampa. But on the other hand it was also vintage Clinton in that it was sprawling, undisciplined and truly self-indulgent.”
“This is one of the strangest nomination speeches, I think, ever given,” he continued. “It was a kind of an amalgam between a State of the Union address, a policy wonk seminar and what sounded to me like a campaign speech for a third Clinton term. Obama was sort of incidental. He’d be shoved in every once in a while in the speech as a way to say, ‘well, he thinks as I do.’”
Krauthammer noted the long-windedness of Clinton’s 50-minute speech and suggested Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan could have covered the same subject matter in a fraction of the time.
“One last point: It is true that he made a lot of detailed rebuttals — that he is sort of the rebutter-in-chief on most of the stuff heard in Tampa,” Krauthammer said. “But Paul Ryan could handle all of that in 10 minutes in his debate. So I think it was a wasted opportunity of what could have been a great, stirring, rousing endorsement of Obama.”
What was missing, Krauthammer said, were the differences between the midterm election losses suffered by Clinton in 1996 and Obama in 2010.
“It’s precisely the one thing Clinton could not admit: that when he lost the House, in this Gingrich revolution, in 1994, he actually changed course,” Krauthammer explained.
“First two years, he was a sort of left-wing trying to take over health care, especially with Hillary Care, raising taxes and all of that — as Obama was. But he made a very decisive shift, which for [Clinton] was natural because he is by instinct a centrist. And Obama is instinctually a far-more-left Democrat.”
“And it’s because of that shift to the center that Clinton succeeded, and he passed welfare [reform], and he ended up with a balanced budget — and because he did not shift that Obama is where he is with a fairly wrecked economy, little support and really just hanging on in a race that he could very well lose.”