Former President Clinton has had an illustrious political career, a statement of fact that no one will ever dispute. Such a life grounded in politics and public service carries with it a media component that some in the political arena are not very good at handling.
Many argue that the current President is one such politician, and so, in his fight for reelection, Obama called upon the one Democrat who always has his media grove on: Bill Clinton.
That Clinton spoke on the President’s behalf and nominated him at the Democratic National Convention was a historical first. No former president has acted in this role before delegates at a convention. Then again, not since FDR have we had a Democratic president as successful as Bill Clinton was, so it seemed to make perfect sense.
Clinton’s DNC speech was widely watched and viewed by pundits and politicians as a soaring success –a success weighed and measured as such on both sides of the aisle. But after watching Clinton speak, I had a very different view.
While I’m certainly no pundit, and definitely not a political writer, as someone who has followed and admired the former POTUS throughout his political life and who readily admits to voting for him twice; in my view, both his delivery and message at the DNC seemed a bit forced, labored, and at times, mechanical.
Bill Clinton in the media
This judgment is easily reached given the mountainous body of Clinton speeches from which we can draw comparisons (more on this in Part II). Overall, whenever Bill Clinton is speaking on camera, viewers get the sense he is firmly connected to what he is saying. He talks in a natural, forward flow that serves to authenticate his message and beliefs.
One didn’t really get this sense from his DNC performance. Perhaps it’s because Clinton was not there to give a “belief speech.” His role, as handed to him from the Obama campaign, was to explain, as in “Lucy, you got some splainin’ to do.” The laundry list of Obama Administration points and explanations to be covered are found in BC’s prepared speech text here.
Even though Clinton is extraordinarily capable of speaking about his own failures in the media, the task of speaking to someone else’s is an arduous task indeed.
Here’s but one prime example of President Clinton in action. The YouTube video depicts a segment from a Fox News Sunday interview wherein Clinton is at once explaining a failure while fiercely defending his right to have erred (jump to 7:17 in the full video.)
Part two of this post will pull some more examples of Bill Clinton in the media that demonstrate just how effective his communication skills are.