Political Animal


September 06, 2012 9:20 AM Mad Spin

By Ed Kilgore

The morning after Day Two of the Democratic National Convention, when most political junkies (Republicans, too, at least privately) are still buzzing about how blown away they were by Bill Clinton’s tour de force, some poor schlubs have to go to work very early today denying it mattered at all. Maybe nobody saw it, preferring to watch pro football’s season-opener. It was too long! It was too wonky! It was really designed to “show up” Obama and/or boost Hillary! If you want to see every negative asessment a malignant heart can devise instantly, particularly with full access to Romney campaign advice, you can check out Jennifer Rubin’s sour take.

The most popular tactic among conservatives for dealing with the case Clinton made was simply to ignore it, and instead focus incessantly on the Great Platform Scandal of 2012. Look at any aggregator this morning, and you will see this discussed endlessly on conservative and MSM sites. I certainly agree that it was an “unforced error” for the Democratic Convention to get trapped into defensive manuevering on completely symbolic language in a completely symbolic document; word is Obama himself insisted on the amendments. But it’s all pretty much a nothing-burger, and the frantic efforts to fan this into a really big deal—if not a deadly insult to God or to Israel—are a sign of how badly many conservatives want to avoid dealing with the actual Democratic Convention. Expect this to get even worse in the course of the day when, I expect, those gabbers who aren’t still yapping about the platform will switch to claiming that Clinton set the bar so high that Obama will surely fail when he comes to the podium tonight. Count on it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • DRF on September 06, 2012 9:35 AM:

    I would agree that the platform is meaningless, except that the Republican Party's platform is a true reflection of the mind of the contemporary GOP, and I think the Democrats have every reason to attack the platform.

    Therefore, we can't be dismissive of the Democratic Party's platform. These several changes represent Democratic defensive pandering of the worst sort.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on September 06, 2012 9:36 AM:

    Bill Clinton laid out in one short phrase why we, the funding wing of the republican party, want and need Mitt Romney to be elected.

    Vote Romney - Double Down on Trickle Down

  • T2 on September 06, 2012 9:39 AM:

    so it goes. The GOP is very concerned that the Dem's left the word GOD out of some paragraph in a very long document - easily proving them to be the Devil's Party. And to make it worse, the Dems chose to spare their constituents from sitting outside and being terrorized by a Lightning Storm, proving that their candidate, Obama, can't fill a stadium. Oh, and Bill Clinton's speech proves he doesn't like Obama because he called for his re-election over and over.
    What's missing here? Any substantive policy statements from the GOP to counter the Dems. They got nothing. They had a boring, white's only convention featuring the biggest parade of lies and misleading statements in American political history resulting in the nomination of two liars/millionaires. If you have eyes and ears, the difference between the two parties is glaringly clear.

  • c u n d gulag on September 06, 2012 9:49 AM:

    Too bad "The Old Poodle's" effort last night fell so far short of the masterful barnburning speech George W. Bush gave last week at the Republlican's Tampa Convention.

    His explanation of how he balanced his budgets, "Arithmetic," fell far short of Bush's message, "Make-believe."

    Pundits have pounced this morning, saying that this again proved how out of touch the Democrats are with "Real Americans" - pointing out how much they prefer "Make-believe" to "Arithmetic."

    They also pointed out how the Democrats, with their 'history and reading,' can't match the Republican message of 'recess and snack-time.'

    And so, the reviews are in:
    In "The Battle of the Ex-President's," the American people find the message of their great former President, George "The Ranch Hound Dog" Bush, far superior to the one presented by "The Old Poodle."

    It's a shame that Bill Clinton failed President Obama and the Democrats last night.

    But did anyone really expect a different outcome?

    And good as Clinton can be, how can he compare to the great George W. Bush?

    The man who, after having been given the limelight on more time in Tampa, proved once and for all that he is the most masterful politican and public speaker in recent American history.

    And so, if you compare their two speech's, and after you do that math, you realize - that ain't no "Make-believe!"

  • schtick on September 06, 2012 9:54 AM:

    The biggest thing I noticed in the coverage of the dem convention was the mix of faces, male and female in the crowd and how they were actually listening to the speakers.
    The God thing. I'm so sick of the teapukes using God as an excuse for everything that I really could care less whether or not it's in the dem platform.

    crapcha....taught teentym....surely is

  • Celui on September 06, 2012 9:55 AM:

    Well, spinmeisters everywhere will try to find any niche in which to burrow to attempt to discredit the opponent. From where I sit, Clinton's speech leaves them very few niches at all, and this speech did what Clinton intended to do: make a case, vindicate his presidency, call attention to the jobs and deficit lies from the Rs, and generally produce a quality argument for Obama's re-election. To me, any and all opposing commentaries will be deemed petty and puerile. Platform statements are both the general skeletal framework of a party's core beliefs and at the same time, platitudes designed to appease conflicting interests under one big tent. Platforms have never been the absolutes that today's toadies will try to suggest they are. Except, when the GOP platform specifies this and that regarding women, taxes and debt reduction that cost the American populace unrelentingly, then these planks do have meaning. As for moving the Obama speech indoors in the face of impending poor weather and dangerous lightning--even baseball calls a game on account of rain and lightning has canceled a lot of PGA play. Don't hear of many basketball gamed called because of bad weather. Doin' the responsible--that's what this is. Can't wait until tonight.

  • James M on September 06, 2012 10:03 AM:

    I watched segments of Pres. Clinton's speech on MSNBC. However, I really didn't need to watch any excerpts to be convinced that Mr. Clinton had delivered a masterful performance. He is a speaker for the ages.

    However, what the segments conveyed to me more than anything else is the sheer vacuousness of the current GOP and the Romney campaign. Beyond the unprecedented degree of dishonesty in the Romney/Ryan ticket,doesn't it seem strange that ALL of their policy statements and political ads are based on lies, distortions or half-truths? Isn't there even a single major issue that the Romney campaign thinks it could safely tell the truth about?

    In a rational world, this election would already be over (I think it is actually....).Unfortunately, I think that what we will see after the conventions is a flood of negative advertising from the Romney campaign on an unprecedented scale. The other thing is that the debates, though politically important, will be useless from a policy point of view because Messrs. Romney and and Ryan will have to lie about EVERYTHING. The factual content from the GOP side will be zero.

    In fact, given the flack that their campaign is already taken for untruths, I don't see how Messrs. Romney and Ryan can survive the debates. Anyway, even though I think we will ultimately prevail, things are going to get very ugly very fast.

  • g on September 06, 2012 10:13 AM:

    Unfortunately, the MSM does go for the stupid. Not to go all Sommersby about it, but in the 2004 debate, Kerry nailed W about W saying he didn't think much about Bin Laden. W denied it - even though there was video of W saying exactly what Kerry said W said. This could and should have been a bigger moment for the media. But instead, the MSM was all up about Kerry saying Cheney's daughter was a lesbian - which was a true statement and not a secret - but Rove supposedly ran up and down press row about how inappropriate it was for Kerry to mention Cheney's daughter's sexual preference - and the MSM went for it.

  • Peter C on September 06, 2012 10:18 AM:

    I was not able to watch the speeches last night. But, here's the thing: when I googled Elizabeth Warren's speech to read a transcript, it was FOX NEWS which popped up at the top of the search. I skipped over it to ABC News and read it there (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/transcript-elizabeth-warrens-democratic-convention-speech/story?id=17164726) , but I was worried by the search result. So, after reading it on ABC News, I read the FOX transcript(http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/05/transcript-elizabeth-warren-speech-at-dnc/).

    THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. Fox's is not just sloppier (guessing words which might have been hard to hear). IT CHANGES WORDS TOO. When Warren said, "Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies", FOX has it as "Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits." There's a big difference in these two statements. One shows how the Oil Companies have rigged the game. The other makes her sound jealous of their success.

    They play dirty, and as they lose, they'll play dirtier. They are a party of mean bastards!

  • just bill on September 06, 2012 10:23 AM:

    i'm sorry. i tried to read jennifer rubin's crap, but i threw up on my keyboard half-way through the second paragraph. what a shill!

  • CharlieM on September 06, 2012 10:26 AM:

    I'm reminded of that great line from Conan -

    "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women".

    Cry on, Jennifer. .

  • T2 on September 06, 2012 10:40 AM:

    To see how great this Democratic ex-president's speech was last night, simply compare it to the speech given at the Republican convention by Republican ex-president George W. Bush. Maybe Jennifer Rubin would like to do the honors for us?

  • JS on September 06, 2012 10:57 AM:

    I was watching on C-Span, and it appeared what happened was that the Dems tried to call a vote on the platform change at the start of a session that was 1/4 full at best. No idea if the voice vote was reflective of the delegates as a whole, but the camera showed a group of "Arab Americans for Obama" as the voice vote was called.

    I'm thinking some dedicated activists got wind of what was going on, and effectively got their people in position to cause an embarrassing moment. The "God" part was just caught in the wash, I think it was the "Jerusalem" language that the vocal delegates were objecting to. But waiting until the hall filled likely would have played better.

    That's my view on the event itself.

    On the politics of it?

    With anyone who is going to listen to the folks who are going to try and make hay on this? Let them whine that the Democrats put "God" back into the platform, and voiced their support for "Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel". If there are any persuadable voters in those audiences, the speakers are ju-jitsuing their own side the more they talk about the changes.

  • R on September 06, 2012 11:00 AM:

    Thanks, Ed, but I think I'll skip Jennifer Rubin. You have found the perfect synonym for "Jennifer Rubin": "sour." The poor thing must be suffering from some soul-eating bacteria, but that doesn't mean I have to read the acid she produces.

    CAPTCHA second attempt at something legible: yabsite $20.00. Is there something you're not telling us, WM?

  • Diane Rodriguez on September 06, 2012 11:02 AM:

    I was amused that the GOP (Romney) was criticizing Obama over the Dem platform when Romney specificallly distanced himself completely from the GOP platform, "that's the party not me".

  • Leopold Von Ranke on September 06, 2012 11:06 AM:

    With the addition of "God" (read "Jesus") languageto the D platform, does this mean that there is now a religious test for public office? And since when does Netanyahu get to set US foreign policy? Whither Blennerhasset?

    I suppose it's politically an astute move, but I wish that people would read Article II and Article VI of the Constitution.

    A wan hope, no doubt.

  • davidp on September 06, 2012 11:41 AM:

    Does Jennifer Rubin believe the garbage she writes? She must have one of the most degrading gigs in all the media. I hope she's being paid well.

  • TCinLA on September 06, 2012 12:56 PM:

    And Jennifer Rubin turns in another stellar performance in her never-ending effort to disprove the ancient anti-Semitic slur that all Jews are really smart.

  • Peter C on September 06, 2012 2:44 PM:

    Correction: I watched Warren's speech on YouTube. She did say, "Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits." FOX didn't alter the transcipt. ABC published her speech as written (but not as delivered).

    I was wrong and I apologize.

  • Anonymous on September 06, 2012 2:57 PM:

    Yes, those godless Dems, starting and ending each session with a prayer (by various faith leaders), not to mention all of the speakers who have mentioned their faith.