The Pragmatist-in-Chief (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Sep. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

Bill Clinton has been dubbed the “explainer-in-chief” and the “secretary of explaining stuff.” We think a better title might be pragmatist-in-chief.

Clinton’s ability to simplify complex subjects — and his popularity — led President Obama to tap the former president to make a series of speeches around the country touting the virtues of the Affordable Care Act (while not neglecting some of the flaws).

As the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan recently wrote: “Clinton’s gift as a speaker is his ability to pitch complex policy arguments in an uncomplicated, straightforward way. His plainspokenness is an asset that Obama, a gifted speaker in his own right, but often seen as more professorial and distant, has lacked during his presidency.”

Clinton made his first such speech last week in Little Rock. Speaking in biblical “let us reason together” mode, he said of health care reform: “We’re going to do better working together and learning together than we will trying over and over again to repeal the law or rooting for the reform to fail.”

Clinton called Obamacare Americans’ best chance “to achieve nearly universal coverage, provide higher quality health care and lower the rate of cost increases, which we have got to do in a competitive global economy.” And he praised Arkansas legislators for their bipartisan approach to implementing health care reform in the state.

What struck us most about Clinton’s speech was his appeal to pragmatism and a sort of “middle way,” characteristics of both his presidency and his governorship, as pragmatism and centrism have been characteristics of Gov. Mike Beebe’s administration. Said Clinton on Wednesday: “My view is Arkansas did a good thing, a bipartisan thing, a practical thing and the rest of us ought to get behind them and help them.”

We couldn’t have said it better.



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