Did you watch Hillary Clinton's speech last night? She went on late, and long, but we watched. It was pretty good! She is much better at giving speeches than she used to be. We are depressed that no one does big angry barnstorming Jesse Jackson speeches anymore except the tiny white tomte from Cleveland but whatever. Her speech was good on its own merits. A well-delivered and pleasantly inoffensive series of uplifting syllables. The second it ended liberal favorite Keith Olbermann was all "she hit it out of the park, masterful, blah blah" and his MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews made even less sense, but they were quite tired from being on TV, outside, in the rain, for 72 hours straight or so. What did the well-rested print pundits say? Everyone wants to marry that speech.
Great political speeches blow away petty questions about ambition (like “What does Hillary really want?”) by fusing the personal and the political, by making you believe in the speaker as the vessel of your hopes. On Tuesday night, even watching on TV, you could feel the familiar rhythms of Hillary amping up her supporters give way to the generosity (however rooted in self-interest) of her transferring their hopes to Obama.
Slate's John Dickerson says Clinton's speech was mostly there, with the "were you in it just for me" line being the most important pivot point. But, you know, she never said anything about Obama, just that if the nation can't have Hillary it will have to settle for him. Because the alternative is scary!
Tim Noah just weighs in with this, which seems apt. And, you know, our antipathy toward the Clintons and their army wavered last night as we enjoyed her speech, but in the cold light of mid-morning, we're not convinced anymore. It was just about her, her fantastic campaign, her great promise. But that guy in Iraq with adopted austic children who needs health care was not what her campaign was ever about. She ran a shitty, mismanaged campaign that went negative first and loudest, acted as if the nomination was her birthright, and represented dynastic politics that should make every student of American Democracy fucking sick. The "experience" she trumped was entirely imagined and exaggerated, she was wrong about the war and never adequately explained why, and, you know, she lost the primaries. Whatever. We don't hate her—she's smart as hell and capable and has actually been pretty gracious compared to her miserable husband—but no one owes her shit for coming in second in a fair fight.