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Bill Clinton's DNC speech shows how the Democratic Party has changed

During his speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton called out President Donald Trump's pandemic response, saying that he seeks to pass the buck and shirk his responsibility and said electing Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election benefits all Americans. Watch more convention videos here.

Posted: Aug 19, 2020 10:10 AM
Updated: Aug 19, 2020 10:10 AM

It can take Bill Clinton five minutes just to say hello.

But that's all the time the 42nd President got on Tuesday to address the party that he once dominated. Had things turned out only a little differently in 2016, he would have addressed Democrats after four years as the country's first First Gentleman. Instead, he got a walk-on part in a party that left him behind as it trekked to the left. Much of his party now views Clinton's revisions on welfare, trade and criminal justice as a betrayal and in the #MeToo era recoils from his extramarital affairs.

Clinton's brief turn in this year's Democratic National Convention represented his most insignificant role at a convention. But while he might be seen as a bit of an embarrassing uncle by the party's young guns, he framed the argument against Trump as few other politicians can.

It's a mark of the Democratic Party's dearth of younger talent that the 74-year-old -- who was elected in 1992, served eight years and has had a busy 20-year post-presidency -- is still three years younger than this year's presumptive nominee.

It was 1984 when Clinton first spoke at a convention to boost a ticket with another female vice presidential nominee -- Geraldine Ferraro. Four years later, the then-Arkansas gov nearly torpedoed his own prospects with a windy address that drew ironic cheers when he uttered the words: "in closing."

But four years later, the "Man from Hope" came back to win the White House.

The boom and bust cycle of Clinton's career took a dip after Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 ticket. But in 2012, he made his most effective convention speech yet — long and ad-libbed — explaining in a way Obama never managed why the incumbent deserved a second term.

To paraphrase his own campaign song, yesterday is indeed gone. Clinton is a spent political force. But the man who won two terms needed only a few minutes last night to show that his didactic style of boiling down complex policy issues to simple truths is still a great way to take on Trump.

Roll call

On the second night of the Democratic National Convention, a roll call across all 57 US states and territories tallied votes to formally nominate Joe Biden for president, offering glimpses of local cultures, customs and languages along the way. Cows, calamari, and historic figures all had cameos. Above: Democrats in American Samoa.

'It's terrible. We don't want that.'

One of President Donald Trump's new daily rituals is to tut-tut about coronavirus clusters in countries that did well suppressing the first wave of the pandemic. On Monday, he took a shot at New Zealand, which initially eradicated the disease but must now delay a general election to stamp out emerging hot spots.

"They beat it. It was like front page. ... Big surge in New Zealand. ... It's terrible. We don't want that," Trump said, on the day that New Zealand registered nine new cases.

Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn't take long to respond. "I don't think there is any comparison between New Zealand's current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States," she said.

Trump's schadenfreude is intended to convince voters that the US is facing the same Covid-19 challenges as everyone else. But the facts reveal his government's pitiful performance. Here's how the US compares with its allies in deaths and new cases over the last week, according to Johns Hopkins University:

New Zealand: 73 new cases, 0 deaths

South Korea: 1,101 new cases, 1 death

Australia: 2,060 new cases, 107 deaths

Italy: 3,410 new cases, 191 deaths

United Kingdom: 7,672 new cases, 73 deaths

Germany: 8,192 new cases, 33 deaths

France: 17,184 new cases, 107 deaths

United States: 343,925 new cases, 7,034 deaths

If anything, new outbreaks abroad should be cause for alarm by the President who oversaw the world's feeblest defense against the virus's first wave.

PS. Reader Gaylene from New Zealand put it this way: You should be so lucky to have only nine new cases of CoVid-19. What an idiot to choose NZ to try to "sh*t" on!!!

'In over her head'

"In over her head" is how Trump on Tuesday described former first lady Michelle Obama, who delivered a scathing keynote speech about him on the Democratic National Convention's first night. "Well, she's in over her head, and, frankly, she should've made the speech live, which she didn't do," the President said.

We thought we'd check on what you said about it. Here's a sample of reader feedback -- which was nearly universally positive -- about Obama's speech.

"As next door neighbors we have been watching the slow motion train wreck in the US over the past 3 and half years with bewilderment and sadness. Last night the heart of America spoke. What a contrast. It won't cure the ills that afflict the country or the rage and fright that many Americans harbor, but those words showed the way on how to address the problems," wrote Robert from Canada.

"It was honest, earnest and back to the basics of living right and doing unto others as you would have them do to you," Sandy wrote from Kentucky.

But you can't please everyone. While most praised Obama's plain and reassuring tone, Pauline thought the speech should have mentioned Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris, and Ginny in North Carolina thought it was a "little too long" -- a fault of many great speeches.

The new Wuhan

Starting to miss big crowds and outdoor concerts? The Chinese city of Wuhan -- once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic -- demonstrated over the weekend what a return to normal can look like, with a massive electronic music festival at an open-air water park.

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