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September 13, 2012

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Thursday, September 13, 2012 GUEST COMMENTARY Free Press Page 5 Zeus speaks, but does so with an Arkansas accent through Clinton By TOM ROSSHIRT Columnist Of the 100-plus speeches heard Torn.Rosshirt at the two political con- ventions over the past two weeks, at least one will be remembered 20 years from now. Bill Clin- ton's talk was an Olympian act even by Clinton standards. It was also the best illustration I know of what makes Clinton the unrivaled political orator of his age. Back in the summer of 2001, I wrote a speech for former Presi- dent Clinton. He was talking to a group that was desperate to hear tips on how to communicate. He disliked that kind of thing; he wanted to talk about substance. So I tried to weave the two together, and I included a passage on work- ing with his speechwriters. He ignored what I wrote and said: "My speechwriters worked for days to carve out these noble phrases, and sometimes I would say, 'This is just rhetoric; we're trying to talk to people here." My colleague Jeff Shesol, who has spent more time working on Bill Clinton's convention speeches than anyone but Bill Clinton, once told an audience, "Anything that called attention to itself on a page was probably the first thing that was going to get cut ... and that consigned most of our sound bites to the dustbin of history." Clinton didn't cut clever words and rhetoric because of a style preference. He cut them because they got in the way of talking to people. About 10 years ago, Clinton ran into a reporter who said (this is how Clinton put it in a speech): "I've been keeping up with the talks you've been giving, and I I think you're becoming our ex- plainer-in-chief." Of course, Clinton is not without ego. He wouldn't tell a crowd that someone called him "explainer-in-chief" unless he liked being called that. But it's helpful for us to know he likes the label, because it draws attention to what makes him stand out: his skill and passion for explaining things. Explaining things isn't easy. You have to grasp complexity and convert it to simplicity. Clinton towered over others in this skill, especially the two candidates who vied to succeed him. George W. Bush could do simplicity, but he couldn't do complexity. A1 Gore was brilliant with complexity, but he couldn't do simplicity. He always wanted to include one more corollary. If Gore could have done both, he'd have become president. The person who can best explain something is a person people want in charge. Of course, as you explain things, you're embedding an argument in your explanation. That's why it's such a powerful tool. You could see Clinton setting this up in his speech Wednesday night when he said of the Repub- licans: "They convinced me they were honorable peopl e who believed what they said and they're go- ing to keep every commitment they've made. We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitmentsare." (This follows the advice he gave some of us years ago about campaign speeches. He said a strong speech doesn'thave to be mean; it just has to be clear. A lot of hot rhetoric sounds mean, he told us. But a clean argument doesn't.) Then Clinton took the time and effort to explain the differ- ences on the economy and jobs and energy and student loans and the new health care law and Medi- care and Medicaid and the debt and tax cuts - explaining what's at stake, what the choices are and what the two parties believe: He had some strong lines in the speech, such as "the job score: Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million," and when he said the Republican argument against Obama is, "We left him a total mess. He hasn't cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him, and put us back in." But the line I liked best - and it's one you're not going to see in other people's speeches - came when he was talking about the Republican charge that President Barack Obama weakened work requirements for welfare. In the middle of his explanation, Clinton stopped and said: "Wait. You need to know. Here's what happened. Nobody ever tells you what really hap- pened. Here's what happened." Bill Clinton writes his own rules of rhetoric. It would be hard to match his skill, but I'm aston- ished more people don't steal his model. He's not talking to history; he's trying to reach the people in the room. If it's sometimes not so elegant, who cares? That's not the point. We're trying to talk to people here. Tom Rosshirt was a national se- curity speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and a foreign affairs spokes- man for Vice President AI Gore. Email him at tomrosshirt@gmail. com. To find out more about Tom Rosshirt, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at Democratic Party platforms had mentioned God and referred to Je- rusalem as the capital of Israel. After both Wereinitially missing from this year's platform, someone appar- ently realized that this was likely to raise questions about Democrats that they could ill afford to have raised in an election year. So the convention faced a vote on whether to restore God and Jerusalem to their party's platform. Rather than risk a roll-call vote from the delegates, the chair called for a voice vote. The voice vote sounded too cbse to call, but the chair called it anyway, ruling that those wanting God and Jerusalem restored had the necessary two-thirds vote. This added an element of farce to the proceedings, but politicians are usually hardened against any sense of shame. More was involved than a pass- mg tempest in a teapot. Democrats were already politically vulnerable on the issue of not respecting reli- gious freedom, because of the Obama administration' s heavy-handed forc- ing of Catholic institutions to finance contraception, against their own religious principles. Jerusalem raised very different questions. In the real world, there is no question that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. That is where their national government is located. But in the murky world of inter- national politics - and especially in the never-never land of the mythical "Middle East peace process" - the Palestinians' demand that Jerusalem be their capital has made liberals in general, and the Obama adminis- tration in particular, skittish about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capita. Nothing that would call atten- tion to Obama's policies toward Israel is likely to quiet the fears of Jewish voters in America, especially as regards the threat of a nuclear [ran, whose leaders have openly and repeatedly proclaimed their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. From the beginning, Barack Obama has tried to downplay the threat of a nuclear Iran. At one time he said dismis- sively that Iran was just "a small countrv." In fact, Iran is physically larger than Japan, and its current popula- tion is slightly larger than what the population of Japan was when the Japanese dealt a devastating blow to the United States with its attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A nuclear Iran can do a lot more damage to Israel than the Japanese did to the United States. Moreover, it is well on its way to being able to produce more than the two bombs that were enough to force Japan to surrender in 1945. Israel is in a desperate situation - and there is no way that Barack Obama does not know that. Of all the authors whose books about Barack Obama have flooded the market, Dinesh D'Souza has shown the best grasp of Obama's strange ideological view of the world. Based on that understand- ing, D'Souza said two years ago: "I predict that even as Iran develops the full capacity to build nuclear weapons, Obama will do little or nothing to stop it." As for the possibility that Israel will "launch airstrikes to disable the Iranian nuclear facilities," D'Souza said, "I predict the Obama adminis- tration will do its best to prevent Is- rael from taking any such action." That is what Obama is doing to this very moment. He has even taken the unconscionable step of revealing to the world Israel's se- cret arrangements with Azerbaijan to provide a refueling place for its planes going to or returning from an airstrike on Iran. Dinesh D'Souza has no crystal ball. But you don'tneed a crystal ball to predict Barack Obama's hostile attitude toward Israel, despite all of Obama's lofty words saying the opposite. All you need to know is the man's ideological history and the long line of ideologues who have helped him shape that ideology. These include professor Edward Said, spokesman for Palestinian ter- rorists, under whom Obama studied at Columbia University. The question of Jerusalem at the Democrats' convention threatened to open a can of worms that Barack Obamacannot afford to have opened, least of all in an election year. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www. Check us out online SUNDAYS 10:00 AM Crossroads meets at 1118 South King St. Airway Heights, WA 99001 509-244-9343 12th st. and King across from Sunset Elementary School ACCOUNTANTS JANICE KOPRIVA PENAR, C.P.A. Certified Public Accountant Certified Financial Planner 60 Simpson Parkway Dr., Cheney 235-2518 747-0614 DENTISTS CHENEY DENTAL CARE Dr. Andrew F. Martinssen Family & Cosmetic Dentistry 625 "B" Street, Cheney 235-6137 or 747-6841 KENNETH M. COLLINS, D.D.S. CHRISTOPHER M. COLLINS, D.D.S. Family Dentistry 1841 First Street, Cheney F&M Business Center 235-8451 443-8520 Hours: Mon., Thurs., Fri. 7:00 - 2:30, Tues. & Wed. 7:00 - 4:30 MEDICAL LAKE DENTAL Bruce C. Toillion, D.D.S. Jessica M. Toillion, D.D.S. 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Mon., Wed., Thurs. 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tues. 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Fri. 123 N. Brower, Medical Lake 299-5171 INLAND CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY DENTISTRY RICHARD N. ROCCANOVA, D.D.S. JACOB J. RIDL, D.D.S. 1717 First Street, Cheney 235-6241 ROBERT I. STOCKTON, D.D.S. Family Dentistry 60 Simpson Parkway Drive, Cheney 235-2900 HEALTHcARE ROCKWOOD CHENEY CLINIC 19 N. 7th, Cheney 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m Saturday Noon - 4:00 p.m. Sunday 235-6151 744-1732 Charles B.H. Hough, M.D Tom Koeske, M.D. Cori Lopez, D.O. Jonathan Staben M.D. Carol Gahl PA-C Natalie Koncz, PA-C Melissa Norton, PA-C ROCKWOOD MEDICAL LAKE CLINIC 725 North Stanley Street, Suite D, Medical Lake, WA 99022 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 ;xm. 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SR 2, Suite 3, Spokane. WA 99224 624-3474 Mon. & Fri. 8:00 am-5:30 pm - Open late Thursday to 7:00 pm Sat 8:00 am-5:30 Dm God and Jerusalem would be- come contro- versial issues at this year's Democratic National Convention? Previous Thomas Sowell By THOMAS SOWELL Columnist Who would have thought that God and Jerusalem have a precarious place in today's Democrat Party platform