This week, Bill Clinton was in Arkansas attempting to dig out vulnerable Democrats. In doing so, he encouraged voters with a somewhat confusing message. Follow your hearts but ignore your feelings.

“They want you to make this a protest vote,” Clinton said of Republicans. “They’re saying, ‘You may like these guys, but hey, you know what you gotta do, you gotta vote against the president. After all, it’s your last shot.’ It’s a pretty good scam, isn’t it?

“Vote your heart,” he urged the crowd. “Don’t vote for what they tell you you have to be against. Vote for what you know you should be for.”

He went on to defend Democrats, tying them to the better-liked Gov. Michael Beebe instead of President Obama, and touted Obamacare without ever mentioning its name. Then, he acknowledged that the recovery he promised in 2012 people would feel, they’re probably not feeling.

It was a delicate rhetorical dance that Clinton tried as well in explaining the economic recovery, which he proclaimed a success even as he acknowledged that voters weren’t feeling it.


Here’s Clinton in 2012 at the DNC:

Now, look. Here’s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I’ve been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again. And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up.

But too many people do not feel it yet.

I had the same thing happen in 1994 and early ‘95. We could see that the policies were working, that the economy was growing. But most people didn’t feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996 the economy was roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States. But — (cheers, applause) — 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, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. (Cheers, applause.)

Now — but — (cheers, applause) — he has — he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it. (Cheers, applause.)

With this administration, it’s always a promise that “you will feel it” another day. That day rarely seems to come. As unfortunate as Clinton’s message is, it’s actually better than Obama’s— a reflection of Clinton’s ability to better read the American people and speak to their concerns than Obama. The Obama approach continues to be, more along the lines of, as Ed puts it, “We’re better off even if you’re not smart enough to ‘feel it.'”

Today, speaking at a fundraiser in New York, he reiterated this line, also blaming the media for laughs:

Obama also told the attendees that they could be forgiven for not knowing about his successes because Washington and the media are too cynical, according to the pool report.

“The reason you don’t hear about them is they elicit hope. They’re good news,” he said.

Just keep repeating it, like MSNBC does, and maybe you’ll be smart enough to feel all of this success one of these days.