The Comeback Kid comes back.

Bill Clinton’s speech last night was great — and I didn’t even get to see it live. Not hav­ing access to broad­cast tele­vi­sion I miss out on a lot of the big events like this, but I read the text of it last night and was very impressed. As a per­spec­tive on the last 25 years of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics I feel that it hit’s the nail on the head. His com­ments on the spec­tre of a McCain pres­i­den­cy are spot-on; and he quan­ti­fies the fail­ures that he pre­dicts would con­tin­ue push­ing us down the slip­pery 8-year slope we are on.

Below is a tran­script. Also, NYTimes.com inter­ac­tive video/transcript.

Pres­i­dent Clin­ton:

What a year we Democ­rats have had. The pri­ma­ry began with an all-star line­up. And it came down to two remark­able Amer­i­cans locked in a hard-fought con­test right to the very end. That cam­paign gen­er­at­ed so much heat, it increased glob­al warm­ing.

Now, in the end, my can­di­date didn’t win. But I’m real­ly proud of the cam­paign she ran.

I am proud that she nev­er quit on the peo­ple she stood up for, on the changes she pushed for, on the future she want­ed for all our chil­dren. And I’m grate­ful for the chance Chelsea and I had to go all over Amer­i­ca to tell peo­ple about the per­son we know and love.

Now, I am not so grate­ful for the chance to speak in the wake of Hillary’s mag­nif­i­cent speech last night. But I’ll do the best I can.

Last night, Hillary told us in no uncer­tain terms that she is going to do every­thing she can to elect Barack Oba­ma.

That makes two of us. Actu­al­ly, that makes 18 mil­lion of us. Because, like Hillary, I want all of you who sup­port­ed her to vote for Barack Oba­ma in Novem­ber.

And here’s why. And I have the priv­i­lege of speak­ing here, thanks to you, from a per­spec­tive that no oth­er Amer­i­can Demo­c­rat, except Pres­i­dent Carter, can offer.

Our nation is in trou­ble on two fronts. The Amer­i­can dream is under siege at home, and America’s lead­er­ship in the world has been weak­ened. Mid­dle-class and low-income Amer­i­cans are hurt­ing, with incomes declin­ing, job loss­es, pover­ty, and inequal­i­ty ris­ing, mort­gage fore­clo­sures and cred­it card debt increas­ing, health care cov­er­age dis­ap­pear­ing, and a very big spike in the cost of food, util­i­ties, and gaso­line.

And our posi­tion in the world has been weak­ened by too much uni­lat­er­al­ism and too lit­tle coöper­a­tion, by a per­ilous depen­dence on import­ed oil, by a refusal to lead on glob­al warm­ing, by a grow­ing indebt­ed­ness and a depen­dence on for­eign lenders, by a severe­ly bur­dened mil­i­tary, by a back­slid­ing on glob­al non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and arms con­trol agree­ments, and by a fail­ure to con­sis­tent­ly use the pow­er of diplo­ma­cy, from the Mid­dle East to Africa to Latin Amer­i­ca to Cen­tral and East­ern Europe.

Clear­ly, the job of the next pres­i­dent is to rebuild the Amer­i­can dream and to restore Amer­i­can lead­er­ship in the world.

And here’s what I have to say about that. Every­thing I learned in my eight years as pres­i­dent, and in the work I have done since in Amer­i­ca and across the globe, has con­vinced me that Barack Oba­ma is the man for this job.

He has a remark­able abil­i­ty to inspire peo­ple, to raise our hopes and ral­ly us to high pur­pose. He has the intel­li­gence and curios­i­ty every suc­cess­ful pres­i­dent needs. His poli­cies on the econ­o­my, on tax­es, on health care, on ener­gy are far supe­ri­or to the Repub­li­can alter­na­tives.

He has shown a clear grasp of for­eign pol­i­cy and nation­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges and a firm com­mit­ment to rebuild our bad­ly strained mil­i­tary.

His fam­i­ly her­itage and his life expe­ri­ences have giv­en him a unique capac­i­ty to lead our increas­ing­ly diverse nation in an ever more inter­de­pen­dent world.

The long, hard pri­ma­ry test­ed and strength­ened him. And in his first pres­i­den­tial deci­sion, the selec­tion of a run­ning mate, he hit it out of the park.

With Joe Biden’s expe­ri­ence and wis­dom, sup­port­ing Barack Obama’s proven under­stand­ing, instincts, and insight, Amer­i­ca will have the nation­al secu­ri­ty lead­er­ship we need.

And so, my fel­low Democ­rats, I say to you: Barack Oba­ma is ready to lead Amer­i­ca and to restore Amer­i­can lead­er­ship in the world.

Barack Oba­ma is ready to hon­or the oath, to pre­serve, pro­tect and defend the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Unit­ed States.

Barack Oba­ma is ready to be pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.

As pres­i­dent he will work for an Amer­i­ca with more part­ners and few­er adver­saries. He will rebuild our frayed alliances and revi­tal­ize the inter­na­tion­al insti­tu­tions which helped to share the cost of the world’s prob­lems and to lever­age the pow­er of our influ­ence.

He will put us back in the fore­front of the world’s fight against glob­al warm­ing and the fight to reduce nuclear, chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal weapons.

He will con­tin­ue and enhance our nation’s com­mend­able glob­al lead­er­ship in an area in which I am deeply involved: the fight against AIDS, tuber­cu­lo­sis, and malar­ia, includ­ing — and this is very impor­tant — a renew­al of the bat­tle against HIV and AIDS here at home.

A Pres­i­dent Oba­ma will choose diplo­ma­cy first and mil­i­tary force as a last resort.

But, in a world trou­bled by ter­ror, by traf­fick­ing in weapons, drugs and peo­ple, by human rights abus­es of the most awful kind, by oth­er threats to our secu­ri­ty, our inter­ests, and our val­ues, when he can­not con­vert adver­saries into part­ners, he will stand up to them.

Barack Oba­ma also will not allow the world’s prob­lems to obscure its oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Every­where, in rich and poor coun­tries alike, hard-work­ing peo­ple need good jobs, secure, afford­able health care, food and ener­gy, qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion for their chil­dren and eco­nom­i­cal­ly ben­e­fi­cial ways to fight glob­al warm­ing.

These chal­lenges cry out for Amer­i­can ideas and Amer­i­can inno­va­tion. When Barack Oba­ma unleash­es them, Amer­i­ca will save lives, win new allies, open new mar­kets, and cre­ate won­der­ful new jobs for our own peo­ple.

Most impor­tant of all, Barack Oba­ma knows that Amer­i­ca can­not be strong abroad unless we are first strong at home.

Peo­ple the world over have always been more impressed by the pow­er of our exam­ple than by the exam­ple of our pow­er.

Look at the exam­ple the Repub­li­cans have set.

In this decade, Amer­i­can work­ers have con­sis­tent­ly giv­en us ris­ing pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. That means, year after year, they work hard­er and pro­duce more.

Now, what did they get in return? Declin­ing wages, less than one-fourth as many new jobs as in the pre­vi­ous eight years, small­er health care and pen­sion ben­e­fits, ris­ing pover­ty, and the biggest increase in income inequal­i­ty since the 1920s.

Amer­i­can fam­i­lies by the mil­lions are strug­gling with soar­ing health care costs and declin­ing cov­er­age.

I will nev­er for­get the par­ents of chil­dren with autism and oth­er seri­ous con­di­tions who told me on the cam­paign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qual­i­fy their chil­dren for Med­ic­aid unless they quit work and starved or got a divorce.

Are these the fam­i­ly val­ues the Repub­li­cans are so proud of?

What about the mil­i­tary fam­i­lies pushed to the break­ing point by mul­ti­ple, mul­ti­ple deploy­ments? What about the assault on sci­ence and the defense of tor­ture? What about the war on unions and the unlim­it­ed favors for the well-con­nect­ed?

And what about Kat­ri­na and crony­ism?

My fel­low Democ­rats, Amer­i­ca can do bet­ter than that.

And Barack Oba­ma will do bet­ter than that.

But first we have to elect him.

The choice is clear. The Repub­li­cans in a few days will nom­i­nate a good man who has served our coun­try hero­ical­ly and who suf­fered ter­ri­bly in a Viet­namese prison camp. He loves his coun­try every bit as much as we do. As a sen­a­tor, he has shown his inde­pen­dence of right-wing ortho­doxy on some very impor­tant issues.

But on the two great ques­tions of this elec­tion — how to rebuild the Amer­i­can dream and how to restore America’s lead­er­ship in the world — he still embraces the extreme phi­los­o­phy that has defined his par­ty for more than 25 years.

And it is, to be fair to all the Amer­i­cans who aren’t as hard-core Democ­rats as we, it’s a phi­los­o­phy the Amer­i­can peo­ple nev­er actu­al­ly had a chance to see in action ful­ly until 2001, when the Repub­li­cans final­ly gained con­trol of both the White House and the Con­gress.

Then we saw what would hap­pen to Amer­i­ca if the poli­cies they had talked about for decades actu­al­ly were imple­ment­ed. And look what hap­pened.

They took us from record sur­plus­es to an explod­ing debt; from over 22 mil­lion new jobs to just 5 mil­lion; from increas­ing work­ing fam­i­lies’ incomes to near­ly $7,500 a year to a decline of more than $2,000 a year; from almost 8 mil­lion Amer­i­cans lift­ed out of pover­ty to more than 5.5 mil­lion dri­ven into pover­ty; and mil­lions more los­ing their health insur­ance.

Now, in spite of all this evi­dence, their can­di­date is actu­al­ly promis­ing more of the same.

Think about it: more tax cuts for the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans that will swell the deficit, increase inequal­i­ty, and weak­en the econ­o­my; more Band-Aids for health care that will enrich insur­ance com­pa­nies, impov­er­ish fam­i­lies, and increase the num­ber of unin­sured; more going it alone in the world, instead of build­ing the shared respon­si­bil­i­ties and shared oppor­tu­ni­ties nec­es­sary to advance our secu­ri­ty and restore our influ­ence.

They actu­al­ly want us to reward them for the last eight years by giv­ing them four more.

Now, let’s send them a mes­sage that will echo from the Rock­ies all across Amer­i­ca, a sim­ple mes­sage: Thanks, but no thanks.

In this case, the third time is not the charm.

My fel­low Democ­rats, 16 years ago, you gave me the pro­found hon­or to lead our par­ty to vic­to­ry and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broad­ly shared pros­per­i­ty.

Togeth­er, we pre­vailed in a hard cam­paign in which Repub­li­cans said I was too young and too inex­pe­ri­enced to be com­man­der-in-chief.

Sound famil­iar?

It didn’t work in 1992, because we were on the right side of his­to­ry. And it will not work in 2008, because Barack Oba­ma is on the right side of his­to­ry.

Now, Sen. Obama’s life is a 21st-cen­tu­ry incar­na­tion of the old-fash­ioned Amer­i­can dream. His achieve­ments are proof of our con­tin­u­ing progress toward the more per­fect union of our founders’ dreams.

The val­ues of free­dom and equal oppor­tu­ni­ty, which have giv­en him his his­toric chance, will dri­ve him as pres­i­dent to give all Amer­i­cans — regard­less of race, reli­gion, gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, or dis­abil­i­ty — their chance to build a decent life and to show our human­i­ty, as well as our strengths, to the world.

We see that human­i­ty, that strength, and our nation’s future in Barack and Michelle Oba­ma and their beau­ti­ful chil­dren.

We see them rein­forced by the part­ner­ship with Joe Biden, his fab­u­lous wife, Jill, a won­der­ful teacher, and their fam­i­ly.

Barack Oba­ma will lead us away from the divi­sion and fear of the last eight years back to uni­ty and hope.

So if, like me, you believe Amer­i­ca must always be a place called Hope, then join Hillary and Chelsea and me in mak­ing Barack Oba­ma the next pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Nice to see the biggest gun in the lib­er­al arse­nal return to the good form he briefly lost dur­ing the stormy pri­ma­ry sea­son. Get ‘em, Bill.

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