Washington (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton's lecture on Wednesday had everything a Georgetown class usually has: A high profile professor, some carefully crafted slides and a handful of students dozing in their oversized sweatshirts.
Clinton, a Georgetown graduate, delivered an over 90-minute long lecture that addressed a topic with which he was intimately familiar – the eight years he was president. Clinton used his remarks to knock supply side economics, tout the economic growth that defined his presidency and, at one point, fault the media for their coverage of policy issues.
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The thesis of the speech was Clinton's belief that "the details” of policy matter in both domestic and international affairs.
"You do not have to have unequal economic growth; you can have broadly shared prosperity, but it involves policy," Clinton told the students and invited guests. "You have to have a deliberate strategy to do it."
Near the top of his remarks, Clinton knocked the media's coverage of policy issues. In particular, the former president said the coverage of the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – stifled the public's understanding of the law because journalists built a politically dramatic narrative and did little to stray from it.
“If a policymaker is a political leader and is covered primarily by the political press, there is a craving that borders on addictive to have a storyline," said Clinton. "And then once people settle on the storyline, there is a craving that borders on blindness to shoehorn every fact, every development, every thing that happens into the story line, even if it’s not the story.”
Clinton went on to say that public policy is "dimly understood" and often "disconnected from the consequences of the policies being implemented."
Bill Clinton's remarks somewhat echo what his wife, Hillary Clinton, said last week at a speech at the University of Connecticut.
"Journalism has changed quite a bit in a way that is not good for the country and not good for journalism," Clinton said.
Hillary Clinton was not expected to attend Wednesday's event, but the former secretary of state entered the room just minutes before her husband took the stage. The audience erupted and gave the former first lady a standing ovation.
Bill Clinton acknowledged his wife's attendance when he said, "I want to thank Hillary for coming with me today…She hasn't had to sit through one of these in ages."
Clinton took aim at a number of targets during his speech. He criticized former President Ronald Reagan's economic plans and the idea that cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans would lead to economic growth for everyone.
He also faulted skeptics who think certain areas of America are unable to come back from dower economic conditions.
"When people say Detroit can’t come back, don’t believe it," Clinton said. "It has not always been a basket case."
The former president maintained a professorial tone for much of the speech, leaning on his lectern as he called for slides to be changed.
Standing in Gaston Hall, an ornate room at the heart of Georgetown's campus, Clinton highlighted three initiatives during his presidency: the 1993 budget, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and his increase of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Clinton, who is famous for lengthy, policy-laden speeches, also addressed the 1996 welfare reform and the importance in getting people to come to the negotiating table when trying to broker a peace deal.
"Somehow you have to find a way to establish trust among adversaries," Clinton said about his 2000 Camp David Summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. "Agreement is not nearly as important as trust."
Clinton continued: "Everybody talks about the collapse of Camp David. That is a big load of bull. Camp David was a roaring success in my point of view because they had never sat together and talked about all these issues."
Students, many of whom lined us as early at 5 a.m. to see Clinton speak, began to doze off at times, their hands holding up their nodding heads as they slumped over in their cushioned seats. Almost 75-minutes into the speech, Clinton appeared to know he was going long when he told the audience that he would make his comments on Israel and the Palestinians "brief."
Clinton's appearance is the second installment of a four-part lecture series for the former president at Georgetown. In 2013, Clinton spoke about "people, purpose, policies and politics" and in 2015, Clinton is set to speak about politics.
The appearance brought out a number of Clinton loyalists, too. Paul Begala, Clinton's adviser, Kiki McClean, his former press adviser and Gene Sperling, his former economic adviser, were all in attendance. Neera Tanden, the head of the Center for American Progress, and Guy Cecil, a longtime Clinton confidant, also attended the speech.