Opinion

The Obama-Clinton center rejoined

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Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton
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      Lanny Davis

      Lanny J. Davis counsels individuals, corporations and government contractors, and those under congressional scrutiny, on crisis management and legal issues by developing legal, media and legislative strategies that are designed to best produce a successful result for the client. He has experience in securities fraud and SEC investigations as well, and has found that utilizing such an integrated legal/media/lobbying approach can lead to quicker and less expensive settlements or even successfully litigated outcomes. Senior officials of public companies have also hired Lanny and his crisis group to defend themselves successfully against "short and distort" attacks and other market manipulations. For 25 years prior to 1996, before his tenure as special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny was a commercial, antitrust, government contracts and False Claims Act litigator (both in defense as well as plaintiff). He has argued numerous appellate cases in the U.S. courts of appeals.

      In June 2005, President Bush appointed Lanny to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. In that capacity, he received the highest level security clearances so that he could be fully briefed and "read in" to the various anti-terrorist surveillance and financial tracking programs at the highest classified level. From 1996 to 1998, Lanny served as special counsel to the president in the White House and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. Lanny has participated in national, state and local politics for almost 30 years. He has served three terms (1980 to 1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the state of Maryland, and during that period he served on the DNC Executive Committee and as chairman of the Eastern Region Caucus. In Montgomery County, Maryland, he served as chairman of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission.

      Lanny has authored several books and lectured throughout the United States and Europe on various political issues. Between 1990 and 1996, Lanny was a bimonthly commentator on Maryland politics for WAMU-88.5/FM, a Washington, D.C. local affiliate of National Public Radio. He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, he Washington Post and other national publications.

      Lanny graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. A graduate of Yale University, Lanny served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.

      Lanny is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Connecticut and before the Supreme Court of the United States and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The irony is too overwhelming to resist. After Bill Clinton’s speech on Sept. 5, the same pundits on the left who were critical of Bill Clinton’s “centrism” and “triangulation” in the 1990s and through the Obama primary campaign were gushing about Clinton on national TV. And many of the same conservative pundits who were critical of Clinton and supported the partisan impeachment process were also singing his praises after the speech.

Yes, the left and the right finally appeared to agree on at least one thing: They liked Bill Clinton. On July 22, 2010, I wrote a “Purple Nation” column in this space, titled “The Clinton-Obama progressive center: Returning to the winning formula.” On Feb. 1, 2012, I wrote a “Purple Nation” column titled, “Get ready for the Obama-Reagan-Clinton pivot.” On Wednesday and Thursday nights in the Clinton and Obama convention speeches, that happened.

In his keynote speech, Clinton restated his successful ideological hybrid of social progressivism, cultural moderation and fiscal responsibility. He proved, once again, that a progressive Democrat can also be pro-business, pro-growth and pro-free market. And in his acceptance speech, Barack Obama affirmed these same center-left themes. Let’s compare the two speeches, which will prove this to be so:

Here are few Clintonian excerpts from Obama’s acceptance speech:

“… not every problem can be remedied with another program or dictate from Washington.” (Remember Bill Clinton saying: “The era of big government is over”?)

“I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers …” (Remember labor and the left attacking Clinton for supporting NAFTA and free-trade agreements?)

“We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world’s ever known.” (Come on, people: These are words that could have been taken, verbatim, from the charter of the Democratic Leadership Council, or “DLC,” the Clinton-led centrist group denounced by the same lefty activists who now can’t say enough about how much they love Bill Clinton.)

And finally, although almost — “I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission.”

I added “although almost” because, as readers of this column know, I have consistently written and blogged and encouraged President Obama to support the substantive recommendations, not just the “principles,” of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission — meaning substantial spending cuts, revenues raised by closing tax loopholes and entitlement reform in Social Security and Medicare — with at least $4 trillion of actual reductions in our national debt.

I hope he does this at the first presidential debate in the next several weeks. If he does, I predict he will endorse the commission’s specific recommendations and strand Romney and Ryan on the far right, ironically left in the position of defending increased debt (which their proposals for tax cuts with no new tax revenues must do).