Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Clinton Speech

Olbermann, Mathews and Company were swooning over the Clinton speech last night to the point that I thought the FCC might start fining them for indecent behavior. I thought there was a lot of good in and about the speech, but I was just a bit less ecstatic than the MSNBC crowd. For one thing, I just don’t see Hillary Clinton as being all that great of an orator, and I never have. She has her moments, but when she raises her voice for drama or emphasis, it just doesn’t come off well.

Her recitation of the “touching” people she has met has always struck me as tedious and a bit trivial, but I loved the way she wrapped that into the challenge to her supporters,
“I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?”

That was one of the moments that she really appealed to me. Another was when she said what Democrats have done and can do. I tensed when she said, “We did it once before with President Clinton and the Democrats,” but she won me over with, “and we will do it again with President Obama and the Democrats.” That’s actually kind of standard convention rhetoric, but she sold it and made it ring.

She gave a lot of policy reasons why all Democrats should vote for Obama, including and especially her supporters, and she made a convincing argument that she supported those policies. She did a superb job of attacking both George Bush and John McCain, and providing reasons why Democrats should vote against McCain.

What she failed to do was talk about the positive qualities of Barack Obama. After spending the primary talking about how unready he is and how much he lacks experience, she made no effort to reverse her stand in this speech. She described no positives about his character at all, and rebutted none of McCain’s current attacks on his character. She did not talk about Obama’s judgement, or his leadership, or his wisdom, or his patriotism, or his steadfast calmness under fire. She talked only about the policy positions that he and she had in common.

So, does she think he is ready to lead this country? Well, in the primary she did not think so, and since that time she is apparently unwilling to say.

And don’t think that the McCain campaign missed that, either. It was less than an hour after her speech that a spokesman was issuing a press release noting that she had at no time stated or implied that Obama was qualified and had sufficient experience to be President.


  1. I agree with much (most) of what you say. My (cynical) take is that she has positioned herself to take credit if he does well, but if he loses, or isn't doing well in four years, she can run again against him, saying, well I tried to support him, but looks like I was right about him all along (she will be able to say that because she didn't take any of it back). Typical Clinton win-win stance.

  2. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I've had the same thoughts through the latter parts of the primary.

    It's really hard to turn around and say the complete opposite of what you've been harping on for so long. That is pretty near (if not actually) hypocritical, which is nothing new for politicians in general and the Clintons in particular.

    She had to endorse him, but not much was said about being anything else. It is just soooo easy to think she's CYA and being political and .. well, being a Clinton. Blech..