Pardon me if I seem a little woozy; I just finished watching two weeks of theatre otherwise known as the 2012 political conventions. Even though it is theatre, not all theatre is created equally. I think we can all agree Death of a Salesman is better than Cats (with apologies to Mr. Mistofolees). And the Democratic National Convention was better than the Republican equivalent because of one crucial aspect: ex-presidents.
I can go into how earth shatteringly amazing President Bill Clinton’s speech was. In fact, I will. Clinton took apart the Romney/Ryan platform piece by nasty piece with (the now famous) arithmetic and the cool, calming drawl only an Arkansan can deliver. It was long, don’t get me wrong. But it was long in the way Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” (substitute your own favorite 8 minute long song here) is long. It will drag on, but you’re going to cling to every line and cry when it’s over. And what do the fact checkers have to say? Very little, actually. With a few exceptions, the speech was bona fide. We can’t say the same for Congressman Paul Ryan, who lies in his speeches about marathon times and probably what he had for breakfast this morning.
Anyone catch President George W. Bush’s speech? If you answered yes, then you’re probably living in some parallel universe where the Republican Party hasn’t made Bush persona non grata at their shindigs. It’s a very calculated move. I mean, have you seen the Romney economic plan? It’s nearly identical to Bush’s. The same plan that cuts taxes for the wealthy, the same de-regulating (Clinton is no saint in this regard either), the same set of steps that made all of our money catch fire in September of 2008 is being sold to us again. If it worked, not only would Bush have been at the convention, they would have made him speak every night and bejeweled a statue in his honor.
Bush is going to be a big part of this election whether Obama and Romney want him to be or not. There isn’t a more trite argument than, “quit blaming Bush!” The man ruled as an autocrat for 8 years, got us into two wars, passed massive tax cuts (which add more to the deficits than any entitlement ever could) and forever changed the politics of fear in America. Fixing that kind of mess is going to take at least two terms, and I Oughta Know.