Dan McCarthy has some good observations:
I was surprised by how much nostalgia the lip-biting, finger-pointing Bill Clinton evoked last night. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling: I had forgotten just how much I disliked his malign charisma. But there’s no denying his talent — a natural talent that matches Reagan’s, honed not only by experience but by a discipline and will to succeed that’s simply leagues away from anything we saw at the Republican convention last week. He set high expectations for Obama tonight, maybe too high.
What came through as much as Clinton’s perfect political technique was his sheer joy at being on stage — the national stage once more. The life of an ex-president isn’t one to envy, despite its comforts: you leave office and know you can never return to the heights you’ve just occupied, and for the next 20 or 30 years you’re a living ghost, maybe honored, certainly humored, but without any meaningful role in the republic, which is near to hell for any politician. There’s a reason so many congressmen and senators remain in office long after they’re ripe. But lower officials can turn to second careers as retainers of military-industrial firms or as celebrity professors or chancellors. An ex-president can do a little of that, but not much, and it’s hollow. Jimmy Carter, of course, has reinvented himself in retirement as Gandhi. For Clinton, a future as Elvis in Vegas would be more plausible. (There was a certain poignancy to the Fleetwood Mac lyrics as he came onto the stage: “Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”)