Clinton and his impeachment by the House and trial in the Senate certainly brought shame to the White House.
But now, as the retired statesman with white hair and that familiar speaking voice, Clinton’s approval rating is near 70 percent – high for any former president, especially one that was impeached by the House.
But it’s clear most Americans, and certainly the Democratic delegates Wednesday night, have forgiven him his personal sins.
Both the GOP convention last week and this week’s Democratic meeting saw some of the best speeches in recent years. And I’ve seen some pretty bad ones over time.
Convention speeches are supposed to lift one up and get you excited.
Ann and Mitt Romney’s did so. Certainly, Michelle Obama and Clinton achieved that earlier this week.
This column’s deadline in Thursday morning, so I haven’t yet seen Obama’s nomination acceptance speech. But I can’t imagine he would disappoint – being known as a fine speaker himself.
In general, Utah politicians are not known as great public speakers.
In part, I believe, that’s because the Mormon society, while expecting and training youngsters to speak in church, also labors under the misconception that a boring, monotone address brings solemnity and seriousness.
One might be inspired by a General Conference talk, but they may not excite you.
To Romney’s credit, he has shaken off much of what may have been his church speaking upbringing.
Still, compared to Clinton, Romney has great room for improvement.
George W. Bush (the second Bush president) has a homey way of speaking, much like Clinton. And I appreciated Bush’s manner at first.
But later in his eight years as president, Bush at times seemed to get confused, or flustered.
I recall watching then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair matching wits and statistics with his political opponents in Parliament during the weekly question-and-answer periods.
And I’d think “Bush would get eaten alive” if he had to appear before a congressional committee and answer such tough queries.
In many ways, our campaign and governmental systems protect officeholders from tough questions and lively on-the-spot debates.
That’s one reason I like to listen to floor debates in the Utah House and Senate (I know, I’m a sick person). It’s because sometimes the sponsor of a bill or amendment actually has to defend their positions right then, right now.
Some lawmakers, of course, are better than others.
I recall years ago when there was a much loved, but sometimes tongue-tied, Democratic senator from Utah County. (You can tell how far back I go even remembering a Democratic senator from Utah County).
He rose to introduce a bill he was sponsoring that had to do with some minor, technical changes to law.
The bill was supposed to fly through. But some GOP senators started questioning him about what it did.
The Democrat became flustered, clearly not understanding what the bill did. He stammered. He stuttered.
Then he said: “Now, you fellas asked me to sponsor this, and you said you wouldn’t ask any questions.”
The Republicans burst into laughter and then voted the bill quickly across to final passage.
In the heavily-Republican Utah House and Senate, often all that minority Democrats can do is closely question a GOP bill and its sponsor and supporters. The Democrats certainly can’t filibuster or defeat a majority bill.
So in some ways, legislative debate is the only way Democrats can have their voices heard.
The national party conventions speechifying ends Thursday night.
As these things go, 2012 was a pretty good year.
And with the power of the Internet, you can watch on your home computers or tablets the talks that you missed live.
Hope you enjoyed them. I did.