New York Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Mark Landler reported on Bill Clinton's long nominating speech for Barack Obama, "Clinton Delivers Stirring Plea for Obama Second Term." The Times, which rigorously flyspecked the speeches of Republicans Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, left the fact-checking aside when it came to analyzing Clinton's long ramble, though the Associated Press made some hits, and portrayed both the partisan former president and Barack Obama as embodying the essence of bipartisanship.
Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama hugged onstage Wednesday night after Mr. Clinton delivered an impassioned plea on behalf of Mr. Obama’s re-election, the 42nd president nominating the 44th to a second term with a forceful and spirited argument that Democratic values would restore the promise of the middle class.
The former president delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made during the Republican National Convention last week, warning against Republicans taking back the White House and declaring, “We can’t let it happen.”
In the 45-minute speech, Mr. Clinton paid tribute to a spirit of bipartisan political cooperation that he lamented was now missing. He characterized Mr. Obama as a president who wanted to bring that spirit back, noting that the president appointed Republican cabinet secretaries and former political rivals like Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Clinton’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The relationship they built, he said, sent a signal abroad.
“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport,” Mr. Clinton said. “It can be an honorable enterprise.”
Jim Geraghty of National Review pointed out: "The man who embarrassed his most loyal fans and followers and staff by engaging in wildly reckless behavior and then offering implausible explanations and even more implausible excuses, who once suggested the political rhetoric of his foes motivated Timothy McVeigh, now insisted that politics 'can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.'"
On Thursday morning Politico's John Harris and Alexander Burns refuted Clinton's idea that the Obama camp is a citadel of political civility: "Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks." They write, "Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign."
The Times offered no similar negative points (the paper's fact-check article Thursday actually credited Clinton with a "startling truth" in the headline) and instead found Clinton "poignant."
It was in many ways a poignant evening, in part because it marked the full reconciliation of the two most popular Democrats of the past 30 years, but also because Mr. Clinton has been increasingly talking about his own mortality.
Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old college student who wants taxpayers to pay for her birth control, who was a cause celebre for liberals and the Times after the Rush Limbaugh controversy, only merited two paragraphs, even though she ended up delivering her speech during the networks' prime-time coverage.
-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site