When I first eyeballed those later sections, I thought, "My God, he ad-libbed all that detailed policy contrast -- the analysis of their Medicare and Medicaid proposals, the debunking of their welfare attacks." That isn't true, though. The factual nuggets are almost all in the prepared texts. What's chiefly added is incredulity, outrage, judgments, summations, and personal interjections.
As I noted in my immediate response to the speech, the dominant chord to my ear was listen to me -- repeated as a phrase at least four times, and as a subtext in almost every sentence; essentially, all his additions said listen to me. Below, I've classified six types of ad-lib that served this mission. In quoted passages, all italics denote Clinton's oral additions. Boldface is my emphasis.
1) I and thou, us and them: Clinton added a lot of pronouns. He added we quite a bit-- asserting a community of perception with the hall and the entire nation (relatedly, he converted "people" to "folks"). And I -- speaking from experience, directly to you. Also they -- adding agency to the Republicans while attacking them.
We Democrats, we think the country works better with a strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor
peoplefolks to work their way into it andwith a relentless focus on the future, with business and government actually working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We thinkYou see, we believe that "we're all in this together" is a far better philosophy than "you're on your own." It is.
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, Why? becauseAs for the adversarial "they" (vs. "you"):
discrimination, povertypoverty, discrimination and ignorance restrict growth, When you stifle human potential, when you don’t invest in new ideas, it doesn’t just cut off the people who are affected; it hurts us all.
Or 3) in spite of all the rhetoric, they'll just do what they've been doing for more than thirty
plusyears now- They’ll go in and cut taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with that big defense increase, and they’ll just explode the debt and weaken the economy. And they’ll destroy the federal government’s ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax.
2) Parallel structure: this is semi-conscious, on-the-fly sentence balancing, adding repetition, and emphasis, and again, agency:
He — President Obama — President Obama appointed several members of his Cabinet3) Repetition: this sometimes serves or builds parallel structure, often via anaphora, the repetition of the opening words of sentences or clauses, as above. Sometimes it's a more naked, concentrated intensifier -- again, look at the passage above: "He — President Obama — President Obama." A couple more instances:
members whoeven though they supported Hillary in the primary ies. Heck, he even appointed Hillary. Wait a minute. I am — I am very proud of her. I'm so proud of her and grateful to our entireI am proud of the job she and the national security team have done for America. for all they've done I am grateful that they have worked together to make us safer and stronger and to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m grateful for the relationship of respect and partnership she and the president have enjoyed and the signal that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not have a blood — have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.
One of the main reasons
America shouldwe ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation. Look at his record. Look at his record. Look at his record.
Now what does this mean? What does this mean? Think of it. It4) Rhetorical questions: these cropped up in Clinton's exposition of Republican positions. They convey incredulity: can you believe this? Would you act like this?
Thatmeans no one will ever have to drop-out of college for fear they can't repay their debt.
5) Command: Clinton added a lot of imperatives. The whole speech, in fact, hammered one central command: listen to me. He buttonholed us again and again:
It's supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with $5 trillion in tax cuts over a 10-year period.I mean, consider this. What would you do if you had this problem? Somebody says, oh, we’ve got a big debt problem. We’ve got to reduce the debt. So what’s the first thing you say we’re going to do? Well, to reduce the debt, we’re going to have another $5 trillion in tax cuts heavily weighted to upper-income people. That makes the debt hole bigger before they even start to dig out.So we’ll make the debt hole bigger before we start to get out of it.
Now, when you say, what are you going to do about this $5 trillion you just added on? They say
they'lloh, we’ll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code. WhenSo then you ask "well, which loopholes and how much?" You know what they say? "See me about that after the election on that." I’m not making it up. That’s their position. See me about that after the election.
Now Are we where we want to be today? No. Is the president satisfied?6) The ask: paradoxically, after the extended buttonholing, Clinton softened from imperative to urging, even pleading. He'd made his case, and he (rhetorically) left the decision up to us (though after taking us through an if/then syllogism, if you agreed with him, he segued back to the quasi-imperative 'you must'):
NoOf course not. But Are we better off than we were when he took office, with anAnd listen to this. Listen to this. Everybody — (inaudible) — when President Barack Obama took office, the economy was in free fall, It had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is yes....
But — wait, wait. The difference this time is purely in the circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president- no president, not me
ornot any of my predecessors, no one could have repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.
My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election,So in the editing, he first takes out one imperative to set up the decision laid out before us; only after taking us through his reasoning, and conditionally positing our asset, does he shift back to "you must, you have to."
you have to decidewe’ll be deciding [imperative omitted]what kind of country youwe want to live in. If you want a you're on your own, winner take allwinner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society you should support the Republican ticket. But If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities- a "we're all in itthis together" society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
If you want every American to vote and you think it's wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama. And If you think the president was right to open the doors of American opportunity to all those young immigrants brought here
as childrenwhen they were young so they can serve in the military or go to college who want to go to college or serve in the military, you shouldmust vote for Barack Obama. If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is really alive and well again, and where the United States remains the leadingmaintains its leadership as a force for peace and prosperity in this ahighly competitive world, you shouldhave to vote [imperative added] for Barack Obama.
This was Bill Clinton's apologia for the philosophy that governed his governance, his bid to restore the policy course that Bush dismantled, and that Romney promises to dismantle further. He laid his legacy on the line. He used every ounce of persuasion in his all-but-bottomless store.
A more perfect speech draft (re Obama's hand-edit of his Sept. 2009 healthcare speech)