Just about now, the Detroit Pistons need a good basketball coach. Not to say that the current coach isn’t doing the best he can, but he could probably take a few lessons from a “coach” not necessarily known for basketball maneuvers: former President Bill Clinton, whose basic background has been the left-and-right brain activity known as music, and his subsequent triumphs on the political court of life. Bill Clinton, who had articles of impeachment filed against him on the day that his mother died, has become a political coach and theoretician that must be listened to by anyone seriously aspiring to retain the presidency…or achieve a majority in Congress.
As I sat in the Time-Warner Convention Center last night, I did not look at Clinton’s speech only in terms of the sharp one-liners and sound bites, but I was sufficiently moved and fascinated by the fact that he gave a legal and political analysis which one might find at the side of a basketball court just before a game-winner play…or in a law school class for future attorneys learning how to slam-dunk in court.
Clinton broke down the strategy of the opposition while strongly emphasizing what the “home team” (Democrats) had to do to move the ball to victory on November 6th. First, he said that the opposition had presented a playbook that was erroneous, and that the home team should not relate to it. He went on to emphasize that, in matters of the economy, the Democrats had inherited the mess created by the Republicans. He pointed to the significance of saving the auto industry, and to the stimulus package, in providing a defense for the American economic system. He further, in one significant sound bite, emphasized that President Obama had to be acknowledged for choosing Michelle Obama as one of his star players.
What Bill Clinton mostly did was what any good coach does. He cited the strengths of his team. He correctly analyzed the deficits of the opponent. And he emphasized something extremely significant: he stated that cooperation with the opposition was more important than personal hatred and meanness like that recently presented at the Republican National Convention. In this way, he showed us that teamwork and sportsmanship were just as important as winning the game. He pointed to his own personal transition too, as a Southern boy who saw Republican administrations focus on civil rights and infrastructure development. In short, he taught us that politics on the national level more of a pragmatic game than a star-studded slam-dunk session.
The playbook Clinton presented last night included the necessity of going to the bench…that is, the base of the Democratic Party…and give them real answers to major challenges which have been presented by the Republican that question President Obama’s effectiveness over the last four years.
The Democratic team needed this: a playbook that goes beyond rhetoric. They needed the motivation of a proven winner who has won, not only on the court of the political stage, but also on the court of human service and need. And finally, they needed a player who had come back from adversity to become an All-Star, and embrace the new team hero.