Remember when Bill "Explainer-in-Chief" Clinton waltzed into the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and proceeded to give the best speech of the election season thus far?
The silver-tongued speaker, with his practiced man-of-the-people folksiness and enviable ability to condense a complicated issue into effectively simple terms, managed to argue the Democrats' case better than anyone else on that stage. He even out-shone President Barack Obama, the more introverted "Professor-in-Chief" and an oratory marvel in his own right, who lost some of that swagger from 2008, when "change" was in the air.
If Clinton didn't drop the mic afterward, he should have.
The former president, whose wife may soon launch a bid for the White House, relishes politics and the political spotlight—when Obama essentially ignored him during his first term, he felt slighted. Then 2012 rolled around, and suddenly his campaigning prowess—not to mention a rebound in goodwill from a public feeling nostalgic for the '90s—came into high demand. The Obamans knocked on his door. He jumped at the chance to spin the election in his party's favor.
Two years later, Clinton is doing just that for embattled Democrats here in Illinois. Earlier this summer, he stumped for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a splashy fundraiser downtown, lending his ex-adviser—up for re-election next February and struggling to win back Chicago voters he's alienated, especially African-Americans—a welcome dose of star power.
Today, in the city's South Side, he was addressing a crowd of workers, business and labor leaders at a manufacturing plant on behalf of Gov. Pat Quinn, who's locked in a tight race against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. The theme: The economy and the state's economic "comeback."
While Quinn touts a decline in the unemployment rate, Rauner counters that the rate remains among the highest in the county and that the Democratic incumbent has "failed" as a leader. The governor, prone to social awkwardness and blustery delivery, has strived to streamline—and sell—his message on Illinois' fiscal woes (and how he can best salvage the post-crash wreckage) amid tough competition from Rauner, who projects an aura of competence and reason honed from years leading boardroom meetings as a veteran venture capitalist.
Here's where Clinton steps in to shake things up, attempt to reframe the issue and drop the mic. Again.