A thinner, grayer Bill Clinton than the one who left the Oval Office nearly 12 years ago strode to the podium at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night in Charlotte.
As the roar of the crowd welcomed him, you could almost hear the announcer at the Charlotte Motor Speedway say, "Gentlemen, start your engines."
Clinton came out running on all cyclinders, touching and pricking the hearts and minds of Americans gathered in the Time Warner Cable Arena and those who tuned in via televison.
His appearance had been billed as a speech to support the re-election bid of President Barack Obama. However, in his own Southern, small-town way, Bill Clinton delivered the defining speech, perhaps of this century thus far, on race.
During the last presidential election cycle, the issue of race was the big elephant sitting in the living rooms across America.
Back then, candidate Obama was called upon to deliver two race speeches. Once when his former pastor Rev.became a campaign issue, and the other was when Obama's own words about rural Pennsylvanians ("They tend to cling to their guns...") spoken at a San Francisco fund-raiser, brought race front and center.
Those speeches on race by candidate Obama moved his campaign beyond what in earlier times was politely described as "The Negro Question."
But coming from a black man, it did little to heal the racial divide that defines America as much as America is defined by its Declaration of Independence.
On this day at the DNC, Clinton, a white man, in bold terms tinged with subtlety, tackled race in a familiar voice to other white Americans He spoke in plain terms that white Americans could hear and appreciate.
Hopefully they will inculcate this message into a plan of action that will lead to the much sought after "post-racial" America.
Clinton talked about the mean-spirited nature of the loyal opposition to every program and idea proposed by President Obama. Clinton said he had never seen any other president hated to the degree of that shown to the current president.
Some Americans contend that Obama is a socialist, in spite of the fact his capitalist policies saved the country from sure economic ruin. Just last week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called the president a Socialist on the floor of the Republican National Convention.
Without calling his white countrymen racist, Clinton, questioned the motivation for the lack of respect directed towards President Obama.
Black people have questioned those motives since the president became a serious contender for the Oval Office in 2008. When a black person raises the issue, usually a barrage of missiles are hurled at them by whites who will contend that the black person is playing the "race card."
Black delegates in the Time Warner Cable Arena, as well as black Americans who listened to the Clinton speech in "watch" parties in homes and bars across America, heard the sagacious underpinnings of Clinton's speech.
They had to hope their white friends and acquaintances heard him loud and clear above the roar of the Obama engine speeding towards the checkered flag.
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