Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Hillary we love (sort of)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Now that... that was impressive. What an awesome speech. What a reminder of why Hillary did so well in the primaries, of why she continues to have such ardent supporters (even if the media continue to sensationalize the divisions in the party), and of why so many of us who eventually came to support Obama liked her so much -- and, the bitterness of the campaign now behind us, like her so much still.

(And yet... well, keep reading...)

Hillary did what she needed to do for herself, for Obama, and for the Democratic Party. Solidifying her standing in the party, her position as a party leader, she was strong on both policy and principle, reaching out to her many supporters while making a strong case for her former opponent:

My friends, it is time to take back the country we love. And whether you voted for me, or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.

We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines. This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win.

Her comments on women's issues, including equal pay for equal work, were especially poignant. So, too, were her passionate and compassionate appeals on behalf of working Americans. She ran a tough, and at times dirty, campaign against Obama, one that at times sounded Republican, as when she presented herself as a gun-happy populist (notably in Pennsylvania) with McCain-like experience (notably the 3 am phone-call ad), but tonight she directed her toughness, as well as her immense policy expertise and rhetorical skill, at the proper targets: John McCain, George W. Bush, and the Republicans:

You haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

There is no doubt some lingering ill-feeling between Hillary and Obama, and much more between her supporters and his. And Hillary spent much of her speech talking about her campaign, about why she ran and what she was fighting for. In many ways, it was the speech she could have given as the nominee. She even took a subtle dig at Obama when she said she was looking forward to presenting him with a health-care bill providing coverage for all Americans, a reminder that she once criticized Obama's health-care plan for allegedly not covering everyone. It was pretty obvious that much of her speech had to do with self-promotion in defeat -- there was a lot of I... I... I... -- and with an eye to the future.

Still, tonight was about coming together, not rehashing past debates. And, overall, Hillary did extremely well.


UPDATE: TNR's Michael Crowley notes that Hillary made no "clear, flat assertion that Obama is qualified and prepared to be commander in chief from day one, which of course was always her central critique of him."

Not good.


Here are a couple of clips, the first from Hillary's speech, the second from Mark Warner's fine speech earlier in the evening:

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  • How could she possibly state Obama is qualified to lead. He is NOT qualified and we all know it!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 AM  

  • I didn't watch Clinton's speech. Why? Because she never should have been invited to give one. She ran for president and she lost. She's now just a Senator and not a terrribly important or even influential one. None of the other Democratic candidates have been asked to speak. Bill Clinton, as a president, should have been asked to speak and he should have been allowed to choose his own topic. He's earned the right. Hillary has earned nothing but respect for having fought the hard fight. If she is really earnest about helping Obama, she needs to be out there scolding her over-the-top fanatics and demanding that they follow her lead. She needs to be actively healing the party rift that she engineered. Words are cheap; action is what is needed. Presidents take action.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:07 AM  

  • I am appalled that PUMAs are willing to sacrifice the poor and elderly of our country and squander more lives of men and women in Iraq in order to satisfy their petty resentment. That's all their doing; talk of Obama's inexperience is just hogwash to cloak their selfishness. Shame on them!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 AM  

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