There is nothing -- nothing -- in politics quite like a Bill Clinton speech, with the possible exception of those by Ronald Reagan.
Since we'll never again have the pleasure of listening to a new Reagan speech, the closest we may ever get to a new peak speech experience is a Bill Clinton speech at a national convention.
Here's a fun fact: did you know that Bill Clinton has spoken at every Democratic presidential convention since 1980? He's gotten better at giving speeches over the years, so Wednesday night was something to look forward to. It's also the first time, according to David Gergen, that a former president has nominated a current president.
There is also no politician alive that so visibly derives life force from the crowd he's addressing. When Bill Clinton stepped onto the stage Wednesday night to unrestrained cheering, you could almost see his arteries inflate, his blood flow increase. The strength of the crowd clearly gives Clinton strength, almost like Venom powers up Batman's Bane, but in a good way.
Many people don't realize this, but after Bill Clinton and the senior George Bush ran against each other in a brutal campaign, the two men, years out of office, have been working together on a variety of important humanitarian clauses -- and have even become friends.
I'm mentioning this because Mr. Clinton spoke at length about the issue of bipartisanship and cooperation, and how important it is for the growth of this country. He talked about how he worked with President Reagan and how the parties would disagree, but still focus on getting the job done.
Great quote: "We believe, 'we're all in this together,' is a far better philosophy than, 'you're on your own.'"
This is an important message. I often fault the Democrats for buckling under pressure from the Republicans for, well, just about any reason. But one of my biggest worries going forward is the political doctrine we're seeing more and more in Washington, that of win at any price.
Individual Americans can't withstand the "any price" price, because it usually comes out of their pocketbooks and their ability to feed their families. I remember, back in 2010, that I was personally infuriated when I heard Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say, "Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term."
This, by the way, is why I don't support any political party. They don't deserve my support. In a country and at a time when millions of Americans were not only out of work, but losing their homes, this was the articulated agenda of one of our top leaders.
In a time of highly escalated partisanship, it's important to remind our leaders that they are Americans first and members of their political parties second.
In, a reader exploded in the comments about the fact that I won't choose an ideology. His claim was that ideology is all that matters.
This is why I disagree. When all that matters is ideology, we lose sight of reality. I'd rather be ideologically flexible and make sure Americans keep their homes and jobs, than ideologically pure and watch people drown in suffering.
And that's why President Clinton's discussion of a time when cooperation was possible was so important. No matter which candidate wins in America, America itself can only win if we cooperate to create a stronger future.
One of my core recommendations for how to save jobs in How To Save Jobs (free PDF download) was to increase community college reach, and to link the community college system with job creation. So far, of all the speakers at both the GOP and the Democratic conventions, Bill Clinton was the only speaker who made that link a key point.
He correctly stated that while there are many Americans in need of jobs, there are also millions of jobs that are open and unfilled because there aren't enough Americans with the specific skills needed to fill them. He also correctly stated that our education system needs to be supported so people can afford to get the training to fill those jobs.
It's impossible for anyone to truly encapsulate a Bill Clinton speech in a few paragraphs, but I can share with you my favorite statement of the speech, and that will give you a flavor for why this man is still, after all these years, such a master of public address:
"Now people ask me all the time, how did we get four surplus budgets in a row. What new idea did we bring to Washington? I always give a one word answer: Arithmetic."
Next: Where's Hillary? Plus Joe Biden.