The consensus seems to be that Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention was hugely effective for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Many people have pointed to Clinton’s statement that no one — not even Clinton himself! — could have done a better with the economic challenges President Obama inherited as a key point in the speech.
Whether you agree with that sentiment or not — and I don’t agree with it — I think that viewpoint, by itself, represents a kind of sea change for Americans. We always want things to be bigger, faster, cheaper, better. We don’t settle. We expect our sports teams to win and call for the coach’s head if they don’t. We celebrate victors and shun losers. If Americans are buying Bill Clinton’s argument, that says something about our country, and I think it says something sad.
We’ve never been cold realists. This is a place of dreams, of surprising success stories, of Horatio Alger and “constant improvement.” If we now just shrug and overlook or excuse crappy economic performance without holding people accountable, where are we heading as a country?
Oh, by the way, today the Commerce Department announced that durable goods orders fell by 13.2 percent, the worst drop since the depths of the recession. That suggests that factory activity is down, and the economy is nowhere close to rebounding. Bill Clinton might think that’s as good as anyone could do. Sorry, Bill, I think you’re full of it. I refuse to lower my expectations, and I think the performance of our economy right now is just unacceptable. I suspect that many other Americans share that sentiment.