The Turn of the Tide: Clinton’s DNC Speech

The former president's defense of Obama inspires a passionate believer in the Democratic agenda.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

And God bless Bill Clinton’s candor and unique skill at raising tough issues while keeping everybody listening. Clinton put on the table not only the obstructionist behavior of Republican members of Congress but also raised the fundamentally hateful character of how a large and now dominant segment of the Republican Party has dealt with President Obama. The people dictating the GOP’s platform and posture in Congress have a mean-spirited, no-compromise, the-good-of-America-be-damned-so-long-as-we-win-and-the-Democrats-especially-Barack Obama-lose attitude. Surely most Americans will eventually recoil against this bitter, endless conflict and take-no-prisoners style of politics.

And Clinton made the case for why Obama’s continuing openness to working with Republicans is not weakness but, rather, the very stuff of doing the business of the American people in the right way. It is time that other Democrats and indeed the mainstream media recognize the truth and wisdom of Clinton’s message: Politics in a democracy can be “an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest,” not merely the position of one party.

Many folks have been waiting to hear the positive message from the Democrats and especially from Obama. A seasoned political insider whose judgment I trust told me just two weeks ago, “We’re not winning.” His comment really worried me. He meant that attacks on Romney and his record at Bain Capital would not be enough to win the election. He’s right.

This insider was still waiting for a positive message. Well, now that message is clear, and this convention has set the direction. The struggle for the soul of America is on. I have never been more confident that Democrats have the right and winning message and candidate in Barack Obama.

The first night of the Democratic convention began the strategy of holding the Republicans accountable for the hard-right-wing edge of their platform, dominant coalition and now nominees Romney and Ryan. The second night put plainly on the table Barack Obama’s strong record of governing on the side of the middle class and a laser-sharp focus on what is best for the long-term future of America.

We now expect Barack Obama himself to pull it together Thursday night and lay out the future agenda and strategy that make him the right man to lead for the next four years. I do believe! Forward!

Lawrence D. Bobo is the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

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