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Carlson Tucker Carlson is a CNN political analyst and contributes to The Weekly Standard and Talk magazines. He is providing exclusive analysis to CNN during the election season.

Tucker Carlson: Unsurprisingly, Clinton focused on himself

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- From the very first words of his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on Monday night, it was clear that Bill Clinton planned to talk almost exclusively about himself. "I come here," he began, "above all to say 'Thank You.'" Gore advisors had hoped that Clinton would come, above all, to endorse Al Gore, whose convention it is. They should have known better. With Bill Clinton, it is always all about Bill Clinton.

Not surprisingly, Clinton spent the bulk of his time on stage recounting what a wonderful president he has been. He waxed rhapsodic over how much better America is for all the things "we [i.e., Bill Clinton] have done." Clinton made it clear that there is not a sunny day on Earth that he is not responsible for, that there is not problem on Earth he is not busy solving. At one point, Clinton actually claimed credit for making America "more tolerant, more decent, more humane," as if anyone apart from God has the power to do such things. When Clinton said, "We are a great and good people," his real point was clear: "I am a great and good person."

Clinton is a compulsive self-aggrandizer, so as nauseating as his performance was, it came as no surprise. But for Vice President Al Gore it must have been bitter nonetheless. Gore is in deep trouble politically. It would have been a boost -- perhaps a major boost -- to the Gore campaign if Clinton had scrapped the usual bragging and spent his 40 minutes of prime time talking about what a great guy Al Gore is.

Clinton could have told warm personal anecdotes to help humanize Gore. He could have given specific examples of how Gore conceived of or shepherded along or at least supported some of the countless successes he says his administration has achieved. It would have been great for Gore.

But Clinton didn't do this. He couldn't. It is not in his nature. Bill Clinton is a profoundly selfish man, a narcissist. To the extent he touted Gore, it was always in relation to himself: Gore and I used to have lunch together, Clinton said. Gore will be a great president, he implied again and again, because he will continue to do the things I have done -- because he is my "Mini Me."

Whatever his faults, Gore has been a flawlessly loyal vice president, sometimes at the expense of his own interests. By the end of Clinton's speech, he was diminished. Even Al Gore deserves far better.


Tuesday, August 15, 2000

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