Wow, did Bill Clinton give a good speech last night. Regardless of what you think of the man (he has his faults), he is a masterful communicator. There are few people who can connect with an audience the way Clinton can. He was thoroughly in control at that podium last night and it showed.
Obama can give a good speech, too, but while Obama is undeniably intelligent and generally chooses good policy he does tend to come across as too scripted. A bit on the wonkish side. I think the main reason voters have a tough time connecting with him because his fabled cool demeanor. A quote in The New Yorker from a source close to Obama says he “doesn’t really like very many people.” Contrast this with Clinton, who was legendary for chatting with nearly everyone he met to the point of always running late. Obama’s speeches often come across more as lectures, like he’s a high school principal or the law professor he once was. He needs to trade in that cold calculation for some unscripted passion every once in a while (though, uh, not to Howard Dean levels). It apparently doesn’t come naturally to him the way it does to Clinton.
The gift to Obama this election is someone who has even less of a personality than he does: Mitt Romney. Obama looks like anyone’s best buddy compared to empty-suit Romney.
I’ve often thought that Obama could use more Bill Clinton in him. Clinton’s speech last night was a gift to Obama of some of Clinton’s magic. We’ll see if it sticks.