Although this blog steadfastly keeps away from politics, that does not prevent commenting on a great partisan’s speech from a purely literary, couch-potato perspective.  This is especially true if the speech was a masterpiece, probably destined for history. The speech former President Bill Clinton made to the Democratic Convention last week was one of that kind.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton (Photo credit: SamCom)

A tremendous hit, it makes one wonder: Will it reverse old ideas and begin a new era? Will it be studied and memorized by students in the decades to come ?Here are seven reasons why I think it’s built from the stuff of potential greatness:

  1. Humor (Irony) It was so humorous that cheers, laughter and applause erupted from the crowd 132 times in 48 minutes. (Recorded in the New York Times transcript). Example:  “Every politician wants every voter to believe he (the politician) was born in a log cabin he built himself.” (Clinton attributed this quote to Robert Strauss, DNC chair, 1972-77)
  2. Content (Solid Research) The speech is full of facts, all checked out and found by a number of news organizations to be truthful. Only some phrasing was disputed. (FactCheck.org) Example: “Since 1961, the Republicans held the White House for 28 years, the Democrats for 24. In those 52 years, our private economy produced 66 million jobs in the private sector — Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42”.
  3. Personification: Arithmetic As a Hero Readers and audiences love a personal touch. Example:  “People ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic.”
  4. Logical Theme This is the most fundamental debating technique. Example: “The argument in Tampa went something like, We left him a terrible mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.”
  5. Figures of Speech (Contrast, Parallel Structure, Onomatopoeia) These profound yet easy phrases  show off Clinton’s great writing talents. Examples:  “Obama is a man who is cool on the outside but burns for America on the inside.” ” Republicans will double down on trickle down.”
  6. Historical Setting, Description Everyone can relate to reality. Example:  “People have predicted our demise ever since George Washington was criticized for being a mediocre surveyor with a bad set of wooden false teeth.”
  7. Summation (Challenge) Two contrasting dreams or visions of the future are put into a nutshell so folks are moved to choose and act. Example: “We believe that ‘We’re in this together’ is a far better philosophy than ‘You’re on your own'”.

To watch President Clinton’s speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzDhk3BHi6Q

To read a fact-check article: http://factcheck.org/2012/09/our-clinton-nightmare/

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