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Clinton Nation

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, August 17 2009

The former prez keynoted last week's Netroots Nation gathering of progressive bloggers and those that love them. Which includes Bill Clinton. Knowing the crowd like he knows how many antiretroviral drug doses are available in each African country, Clinton rewarded the crowd with a savvy assessment of their importance in the political sphere. He thanked the assembled bloggers for "dramatically elevating the level of our public discourse, and the base of knowledge and people participate...in reading" -- here he waved a hand -- "all the things that you put out." Ol '41 noted that he carries around more articles from "blog sites" than from newspapers.

Think of him what you will, but Clinton has a certain gift. He reliably extracts the essential and, in retrospect, obvious truth of a situation and serves it up on a platter. There it appears to glisten with insight. If you're the subject of his reflection, you feel good that he understands you so. And so it was with the bloggers. Clinton framed the depth of knowledge that bloggers can bring to a topic by saying that, often, they are unburdened by the demands of time, resources, and audience that can drag down newspaper folk. Many are free to write once or twice a week, he said, and thus can bring a certain genius to the table. Plus, they can take sides, and that's a good thing.

Not a bad assessment of how things work from the past president.