Thursday, September 06, 2012

Clinton's speech

I pretty much never watch political speeches, given by either side.  I tend to find them stupid and boring, I can't stand the canned applause lines, etcetera.  But I saw the last half or more of Bill Clinton last night, and greatly enjoyed it.  My god, what a talent and what a performer (albeit talk show style rather than orator style). Great stuff wholly apart from my predominantly agreeing with it.  Remarkable to see the amount of content, his ability to make it clear, the dead-perfect tone when he was criticizing the Republicans, the skill at lecturing without pomposity or condescension, his comfort in his own skin, and his ability to be wonk plus regular guy at the same time without a sweat.  The University of Arkansas certainly lost a great law professor when he decided to become governor instead.

I once met Clinton (in 2003 or so) on the Acela train from DC to New York City.  There was a blizzard, which is probably why he didn't fly.  He either decided to walk through the train for its own sake, or else was headed for the dining car.  So a couple of Secret Service guys came into my car first (but they seemed pretty relaxed).  They later confirmed to me that it's a pretty easy gig, because everyone likes him.  Then I saw this huge guy with a red face and white hair come in, looking very much like himself.  He came down the aisle, chatting and shaking hands with everyone along the way.  (Perhaps due to the blizzard, the train was fairly empty.)

Being Clinton on the train is a lot to live up to.  But he radiates this remarkable charisma even when you have a relatively trite conversation.  He knew NYU Law School because he had done a couple of events here (which I had skipped), and at the end I told him "We miss you more every day" (Bush's follies having gotten to me by this point).  He gave that chuckle and it was on to the next person a few seats down.

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