Words from President Clinton

On a clear Monday night in October, in a West Village penthouse, a former president spoke to some of his former constituents. As the sun dipped behind the New Jersey skyline, casting a golden-pink glow over the city’s rooftops, President Clinton took the microphone and spoke about what the world will look like after Bush leaves office on January 20, 2009.

The first two years of the presidency will be tough, he said.

“The role of the vice president will be more important in the world in the first two years because the president will have to focus on getting the country out of a ditch,” Clinton said.

“Ninety percent [of the $700 billion bailout] money will be managed by the next president.”

He also warned that the president will have to make many tough decisions that may not be popular, but will be imperative to getting the country “out of a ditch.”

“At least 8 or 9 decisions I made as president that were highly unpopular,” he said. “But you can never govern by polls in complex problems.”

And how to ensure that we put the best leader in the White House?

“There are two thing we can do and only two thing a in these last days: Anything necessary to register voters and get them to vote early and turn undecided voters who did not vote in the primary to vote in the general election.”

And how to get them to vote for Obama?

“This in a way is an easy sell if you can get people to listen. Why? His policies are so far superior.”

For the first time in a long time, I saw Clinton speak from his mind, and not so much his heart. His brilliance radiated throughout the small crowd of New York elites. Before them they saw a man who truly believed in the Democratic candidate he was backing, not because of his ego, not because of his unquenchable thirst for power, but because his intellect could not allow him to believe otherwise. And perhaps, this thinking coupled with his own experience is what informed his closing message to the group:

“There is no time for resentment voting, you have to think in this election.”

–Jamie Wong