WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton laid out a stark choice Tuesday night for voters during the second night of the virtual Democratic National Convention: Either elect a “go-to-work president” in Democrat Joe Biden or reelect incumbent Donald Trump, who would use a second term to “blame, bully and belittle.”
“If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man,” said Clinton. “Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.”
By contrast, said Clinton, Democrats are “united in offering you a very different choice: a go-to-work president. A down-to-earth, get-the-job-done guy. A man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”
It was vintage Bill Clinton, both a spirited endorsement of Biden and a withering, mocking critique of Trump.
“Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton deadpanned.
“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos. Just one thing never changes—his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there.”
Clinton framed November’s election as a hiring decision, the same way he did in his memorable 2012 convention speech in support of then-President Barack Obama.
“In this job interview, the difference is stark,” said Clinton in his pre-recorded remarks. “You know what Donald Trump will do with four more years: blame, bully, and belittle. And you know what Joe Biden will do: build back better.”
Ever since Clinton’s speaking role was announced earlier this summer, some in the party have questioned whether Clinton’s “New Democrat” vision of America still belongs in today’s increasingly progressive Democratic party.
Clinton’s speech Tuesday, though brief, should satisfy those doubters.
The former president showed once again that he can deliver a compelling message about economic opportunity and a strong social safety net, the same message that has carried Democrats to victory in presidential elections since the Great Depression.
“Joe Biden wants to build an economy far better suited to our changing world. Better for young people. Better for families, working and raising their kids. Better for people who lost jobs and need new ones. Better for farmers tired of being collateral damage in trade wars,” said Clinton.
“Joe won’t just put his signature on a check and try to fool you into thinking it came from him. He’ll work to make sure that your paycheck reflects your contribution to, and your stake in, a growing economy.”
Still, there was no ignoring Clinton’s diminished status among Democrats. For the first time in 30 years, the former president was not given a key speaking slot at the convention, a decision which reflects his tarnished legacy in the Me Too era.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak on Wednesday night.