Bill Clinton Convention Speech: The Reason No Past Republican President Spoke at RNC


The Democratic National Convention was different than the RNC in one striking way. The Democrats did not hide their past. Past Presidents Jimmy Carter (via video) and Bill Clinton both spoke at the convention. Bill Clinton’s and Obama’s speech generated a lot of buzz. But, why is the GOP hiding their past?

Some would argue that the message coming from the Republican convention is to look to the future. The GOP displayed some impressive talent and showcased their leaders of the future. They showed a lot of bench strength. After they lose in November, they will be set to take on the 2016 election. And that clearly was the message that came across. “If you think our candidate is weak, and he is, then wait to you see what we have in store for you in 2016.” 

It is widely acknowledged that Christie’s speech was more about him and his aspirations than an endorsement of the Romney/Ryan ticket. The selection of Paul Ryan puts him front and center in the GOP’s order of succession. Republicans are notorious for following a somewhat orderly process of taking the next in line when it comes to selecting presidential candidates. Once Huckabee and dark horse Palin decided not to run, the next in line was Romney. And even though he had lukewarm support at best, he was next in line. GOP succession process works very much like the succession process to the English throne.

But where were the heroes from the past? Other than former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s appearance at the convention and the constant non-stop references to "Saint Reagan," there was virtually no mention of the Republican presidential legacy. To be fair, President Bush has retired and is on record as preferring not to be involved in politics. However, the Republicans are running away from 20 years of failure. No wonder they are turning to a new generation, they have nothing to build on. The GOP has controlled the White House for 20 of the last 32 years, 5 of the last 8 terms. That is 62% of the past time. During the last 32 years, only one president had a surplus. That was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Only one President implemented entitlement reform that actually shrank the number of people in the entitlement class (TANF), and that was Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Only one president presided over explosive economic growth and saw the rise of a new industry (technology, the Web), that was Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

If you go further back only one president presided over a signed treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. That was Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. And the last president that didn’t engage in a new U.S. driven war/conflict was Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.

I can understand why Republicans would not want to talk about the past. They want us to focus on deficit spending and the debt. Well Clinton had a surplus, so that leaves Republicans owning the deficit. Once again, Republican presidencies for 62%of the last 32 years.

Since 1948, 4 of the 5 worst years for the economy as measured by GDP occurred under Republican leadership, including Saint Reagan and his “Voodoo Economics.” Obama has the worst performance.

2009, -2.6%, Barack Obama 1982, -1.9%, Ronald Reagan 1958, -0.9%, Dwight Eisenhower 1974, -0.6%, Richard Nixon / Gerald Ford 1954, -0.6%, Dwight Eisenhower

To be fair, 3 out 5 of the best years were under Republicans. And Saint Reagan made a comeback in just two years. Maybe it wasn’t voodoo, after all.

1950, 8.7%, Harry Truman 1951, 7.7%, Harry Truman 1955, 7.2%, Dwight Eisenhower 1959, 7.2%, Dwight Eisenhower 1984, 7.2%, Ronald Reagan

A review of the individual performances of each president since 1948 reveals a trend. GDP shrank whenever a Republican followed a Democrat. GDP grew whenever a Democrat replaced a Republican. The highest periods of growth were under Democratic presidents, except Obama. Obama what are you doing to us? You’re messing it up for everyone and destroying the Democratic track record. Why I ought a.

1948-1952 (Harry S. Truman, Democrat), +4.82% 1953-1960 (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican), +3% 1961-1964 (John F. Kennedy / Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat), +4.65% 1965-1968 (Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat), +5.05% 1969-1972 (Richard Nixon, Republican), +3% 1973-1976 (Richard Nixon / Gerald Ford, Republican), +2.6% 1977-1980 (Jimmy Carter, Democrat), +3.25% 1981-1988 (Ronald Reagan, Republican), 3.4% 1989-1992 (George H. W. Bush, Republican), 2.17% 1993-2000 (Bill Clinton, Democrat), 3.88% 2001-2008 (George W. Bush, Republican), +2.09% 2009 (Barack Obama, Democrat), -2.6%

This is an alternate view on GDP performance under each president. Each president is given credit for growth through the quarter before he left office. For those who left at the end of their terms, that would be the fourth quarter of the election year. So here is another stacking of GDP by president. They are listed in reverse order of growth. 4 of the top 5 years are under Democrats. But there goes Barry, again messing up the stack.

Barack Obama, 1.2% annual G.D.P. growth rate (previously 1.5%) George W. Bush, 1.6% (previously 1.7%) George H.W. Bush, 2.1% Gerald Ford, 2.2% Dwight Eisenhower, 2.5% Richard Nixon, 3.0% Jimmy Carter, 3.2% Ronald Reagan, 3.5% Bill Clinton, 3.8% Lyndon B. Johnson, 5.0% John F. Kennedy, 5.4%

What about jobs, surely the Republicans have a proud history of proving their supply-side job creation ideology is a booming success. Well not so much. Job growth in the country has been best under Democrats and worst under Republicans. Unemployment has to favor Republicans, right? Wrong. The greatest growth in jobs in terms of monthly average and percentage change happens under Democrats, except Obama. Not again. 

Data source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National), Seasonally Adjusted

If we look at a full economic scorecard, we see that unemployment rose under every Republican president except Saint Reagan. And it went down under every Democratic president, except Obama. Obama strikes again! 

Republicans don’t have a history to point to when you consider their past performance. But what do Democrats do about Obama? Given his economic performance, his corporate bail outs, his neo-con foreign policy, and his use of some of the architects of the financial collapse as advisers, shouldn’t Obama be running as a Republican?

How do they cast his performance in a better light? Trending is one way. Unemployment under Obama is trending in the right direction. The second way is to compare Obama’s unemployment trend to Reagan’s trend. In a battle of "The Anointed One vs. Saint Reagan," the unemployment trend for the first 42 months is remarkably similar. In fact Reagan’s unemployment numbers had a steeper incline and peaked at a higher number. That is a weak argument to say that Obama’s policies helped to stabilize the economy. He stopped the bleeding.



So why is Obama going to win? Obama is going to win this race because Romney is advocating a return to a failed methodology. Romney does not have a solution that hasn’t been tried and failed in the past. Obama can turn to the proven track record of past Democratic presidents to find a path back to economic growth. He can use Clinton has an adviser on entitlement reform and he can borrow from the Tea Party and work to control and reduce spending. That is a winning formula. The Republicans would like to hide the the economic performance of their past presidents. Their policies have failed to stimulate and sustain growth. Even their so-called forward looking thinkers and leaders sound eerily like Republicans of past administrations. The Republicans have moth balled their past leadership and would like us to forget that they are primarily responsible for the deficit. This is the message they deliberately tried to hide at the convention.

 Bill Maher, the darling of the “right” captured it perfectly in a new rule segment.