Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No way, No how, No McCain

Did she stick the landing?
I think a lot of people were holding their breath tonight, to see how Hilary's speech went down. I guess I'd rate it about a 93% effectiveness rating. I don't always like her style of speaking, sometimes it seems pretty forced, but tonight she really connected a few times.
Sure, there were plenty of platitudes, but she hit paydirt when she said "No way, no how, no McCain." The audience erupted, acknowledging a great phrase, which really made the point. I was most particularly moved when she quoted Harriet Tubbman:
If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they're shouting after you, keep going.
Don't ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.
Response at times was so overwhelming, it somewhat obscurred some really good lines from being heard clearly, like:
My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.
The pivotal part of the speech, where she delivers the Spockian message that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, drove it all home:
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? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
So, what did you think?

text of speech


Mark said...

Yeah. It was OK. She hit most of the high points. But that husband of hers can't keep his mouth shut and I can't help but think he is hoping McCain will win so that she can make another run in 4 years.

BTW, Jeremy Bentham is spinning in his grave over your giving Spock apparent credit for the utilitarian principle. My favorite Spockism is his reminding Kirk of an old Klingon proverb: Only Nixon could go to China.

David Fung said...

I felt she started out relatively lifeless and got much stronger and more genuinely enthusiastic as she wrapped up.

Had she not turned the corner midway, this would probably have been tagged as bad news. The content always hit the needed points and I think she deserves a lot of credit for reaching as far as she did.

To me, there were a few clear points where she could have really sealed the deal but didn't, and I hope this wasn't because of Obama. What really would have turned the prevailing divisive tide would have been if she could go farther than talking about what she stood for during the primary to talk specifically about how she was going to champion those efforts under an Obama administration.

I found this noticeably absent as she reached the point of the speech where she acknowledged Michelle Obama and Joe Biden. Had that been preceded by a strong statement of "I'll be there, working on healthcare" or whatever the speech would have really made the leap it needed to make. As it sat, I was left with the flavor that the things she was fighting for were ending with her speech.

I used to think the rift in the party was sour grapes after a hard-fought battle. Hillary's supporters were passionate about her policies and want to see those things pursued in an Obama administration. On many policies, Hillary and Barack were close enough that this shouldn't have become an issue. But I think the animosity of the primary was so great that the fallout is that Hillary doesn't have a place in an Obama world (it would have been the same the other way). Not being willing to fully embrace Hillary (and Bill) as an agent of change in Obamaworld is what's created this giant split, and this is where the big problem is coming from.

If they could come to an agreement for her to say something that wouldn't have come to fruit, even that would have done more for healing the wounds. Maybe that's too cynical, but the problem seemed more deeply etched when you see things play out this way. The reality of politics is that you do what you need to do to win, but if that includes leaving half the party behind by giving Hillary no place in the future, it can be disasterous.

I hope this didn't come from Obama. But if it was going to play out differently, that would have had to have come from him.

If the same thing happens tonight with Bill, then that will really be bad as well. It's not like Bill Clinton will have an active operational role in Obama's administration, but if his message comes across as "I'm on my way to Siberia, but I'm voting for Barack in November" then there will be a lot more work to do for Obama before the election.

Speaking of half-delivered messages, I think Obama's comments on Hillary's speech were also pretty darn lame and make things worse than they were. Everybody knew how important her speech was, so I would have expected a stronger statement than "that was really excellent".

Maybe it would have been a giant violation of convention protocol, but the party could have cleared the road had Obama actually been there on stage with Hillary at the end. As it was, it seemed like a subtle continuation of the exclusion theme - Hillary walking around alone on the stage after she finished acknowledging people in the audience. Tasted way too much like "goodbye" than what was needed. Had Obama came out and stood by her side, I think this would have really changed things and been the catharsis that people wanted. As it was, it just came across as a statement of "well, she got that done", exactly the sort of arrogant badge that Obama is often pinned with (I don't think this is the truth, but he doesn't make it easier by his behavior).

All this said, I hope that these number of Hillary people voting for McCain are not real. I can understand that Hillary attracted some number of voters who would have normally voted Republican and they will probably be lost. But if you were a Hillary supporter who was an advocate of her policies and of the chance that a woman could be the candidate, it's hard to believe that you could be so mad that you would instead vote for a party and candidate who is guaranteed not to support the policies that you favored and would never have considered giving a woman a chance to run for the office.

Anonymous said...

As one of those politically active, "older white women" dedicated Hillary Clinton supporters,I honestly think her speech knocked it out of the park! No one should expect a more rousing endorsement of Barack Obama, a more dynamic and damning indictment of the Bush Administration's devastation of our country's economy and international image, a greater condemnation of McCain's obvious Bush discipleship, a more moving focus on the real motivations for her campaign and, now, for her support of Barack Obama (and the reasons for the rest of us to do likewise). Hers was a speech for the ages and should not continue to be dissected and besmirched by overly critical pundits. Senator Hillary Clinton deserves America's wholehearted appreciation for her leadership, her oratory, and her commitment to country, as well as to the Democratic party.