We still love Bill Clinton, even when he has nothing to do with us, and we have more urgent matters to worry about. It was good to see that man again. He has lost considerable weight since his White House days—blame a quadruple by-pass surgery in 2004 and two stents inserted in coronary arteries in 2010—but that shock of white hair, that smile, that mildly hoarse and gravelly voice were intact.

The charmer, the philanderer, the bounder, the embodiment of the American Dream, the first Black President of the US (as author Toni Morrison anointed him): William Jefferson Clinton.

photoClinton’s 49-minute speech at the Democratic Party’s National Convention last Wednesday to nominate Barrack Obama as the party’s Presidential candidate was that rare political event: confident charisma delivering cogent arguments that never insult your intelligence (anyone who wants to see the speech can google “Bill Clinton Democratic Convention 2012". Transcripts are also available, but they are no fun compared with the video).

As his biographies tell us, Clinton has always been a compulsive charmer (in fact, he was bullied and beaten up in junior school for this trait), whether it’s heads of state he was meeting or Rajasthani village women, with whom he broke into an impromptu dance. But his speech nominating Obama built a formidable structure of logic and facts on that basic magnetism. Independent fact checkers have found that almost all the statistics he mentioned in his speech were correct. He had exaggerated a bit here and there—Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill did not cut taxes for 95% of the American people, it benefited 76%; Medicare will not “go broke in 2016" if Mitt Romney is elected and repeals the federal health care law, though part of it will definitely be seriously affected. But other than that, almost all the numbers Clinton quoted—and he quoted a lot—were correct. That by itself is creditable in politics, anywhere in the world.

And who but that old flirt could have had the chutzpah to end his list of reasons why Americans should vote for Obama with the argument that he was “a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama"?

If there is one US president who personifies the “log cabin to White House" story other than Lincoln, it is Clinton, who rose from Arkansas white-trash stock to the pinnacle. Hell, we aren’t even absolutely sure who his biological father was. Even his name—Clinton—comes from his stepfather; he was born Blythe. He has acknowledged that “sometime in my 16th year, I decided I wanted to be in public life as an elected official". It’s well known that was the year he met President John F. Kennedy at the White House as a schoolboy delegate from his state. But less publicized is the fact that it was also when he listened to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream" speech, and memorized the words.

Once he had taken that decision, Clinton led his life with single-minded purpose. When he met Hillary Rodham in law school, he had found the perfect ally, and their marriage was an enterprise that never wavered from its goal—the White House. That ambition brooked no opposition, but it also never turned away from some basic beliefs. For Clinton was truly the first US President who stood above creed, gender or colour (on the issue of colour, there is enough authentic information available on Lincoln’s somewhat complex attitude towards both African-Americans and slavery). But more than anything else, he just charmed the hell out of the world—even common people in distant countries who knew little about his policies or paradigms.

The comments started coming in within minutes of my sharing the video of Clinton’s speech on Facebook. “I love Billy boy!" gushed a thoroughly bluestocking friend. “And all his hair too! Isn’t he a rock star?!!" piped up another. Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time of time before the Indian situation intruded. “Is he available as a temp on contractual basis for 7 Race Course Road?" was the wry comment from a senior journalist. A reply came instantly from another mediaperson: “Hahaha, not even half way through (viewing the speech) and was just thinking that. Please, can this man be the speechwriter if nothing else, for Dr MM Singh?" “How will MMS pay the bill?" asked someone. “That’ll be another scam."

And then, after a dozen “brilliant!"s and “mesmerizing!"s came a sudden sobering comment: “i find it amazing that a leadership transition is under way in China too a country that will have a lot of bearing on us...but do we know who Xi Jinping is, who the new faces are, who stand for what...for India the US is important—but China could over the next ten years be critical.. It has this advantage that nobody watches it..."

The discussion went silent after that.

Guiltily, I went to the Wikipedia entry on Xi Jinping. These are its last lines: “Members of Xi’s extended family have substantial business interests, although there is no evidence that they have been assisted by Xi’s political position. The Chinese government has censored this information, going as far as blocking Bloomberg’s site after they reported it." Well, there, as they say, you are.

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