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09/06/2012

President Bill Clinton #DNC2012

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2012-09-06 At 1.00.03 AmPresident Bill Clinton's speech was as masterfully political as one would expect, as captivatingly personal as one would hope, and as strong as any we've seen at the Democratic Convention. Clinton lectured to ears far beyond just the ardent ones in the room, reach out to independents and undecideds who are in search of a lightbulb moment. The whole thing—which I also must say I appreciated for its note of how divisive and even frightening the far-right's brand of partisanship now is—was political artistry at its finest.

So when I tweeted, during the last few minutes of his speech, that I would've like to have heard some LGBT mention, I wasn't taking away from the obvious merits in the overall text and/or delivery. What I was saying is that in this, an historic week where pro-LGBT sentiment has flowed from Democrats as easily as it was once bottled, it would've been nice cake-icing to hear this man—this former President—using a few seconds of his forty-eight minutes to mention LGBT rights, protections, and welfare.

Here's why. Doing what I do, I've learned that certain things are sure to elicit certain reactions. For instance, a post on Westboro Baptist Church is sure to raise questions of why I'm giving that family any attention. Or if I post a marriage equality ad that doesn't feature a same-sex couple, I know folks will grouse at the exclusion. Those are just two of many.

A third: If I write just about anything involving William Jefferson Clinton and LGBT progress, I immediately get reminders of his role in both Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Every single time. Even if it's something strong, like when the former Prez came out for marriage equality himself, there is still the residual DADT and (especially) DOMA baggage. More than fifteen years later, both linger. It happened even tonight, in response to my pithy tweet.

What might've put an end to that kind of thing? If, in as little as two or three lines, President Clinton had sliced and diced his own past mistakes/miscalculations the same way he chopped down so many of the problems he sees in the Romney/Ryan proposals for America. I truly think that in this mega forum, at this time in history, with this man whose career has been so fully framed by Democratic Conventions, President Clinton could've really seized the momentum of the day and dropped this weight once and for all. Pushed it way to the back of many minds, at the very least.

Again, that's not to take away from the speech that he did deliver—it's just me longing for one more strong point in a speech filled with so many.

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