Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Denver Convention: Hillary Clinton

Instead of Thursday night as the Presidential Nominee, or Wednesday night as the Vice-Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton was relegated to speak on Tuesday night, in an effort to reunite a badly divided Democrat Party.

Lots of speculation surrounded her speech prior to Tuesday, and still surrounds Bill Clinton’s speech tonight, as people try to figure out what the Clintons will do. Will they put aside the animus and throw their support enthusiastically behind Barack Obama, and call on Hillary’s supporters to vote for Obama? Or will they do something else? After Hillary’s speech, the answer appears to be, “something else.”

For her to remain a viable candidate for future national office, Hillary Clinton had to make at least a nominal effort to show that she is ready to move ahead, throw away the hurt and anger, and support her party’s candidate, and that is what she did.

Some commentators noted that she gave the best speech of her career Tuesday night. And from an oratorical perspective, it was a very good effort. But when you analyze what she said, it was clear that Mrs. Clinton was going to support Barack Obama only as much as she had to in order to fulfill the minimal expectations of the Obama campaign and the Party.

Much of the important parts included a recitation of what she had done, and then finishing it up with something like, “and so does Barack Obama.” Like this one:

“I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month.

To promote a clean energy economy that will create millions of green collar jobs.

“To create a health care system that is universal,” she said, and continued with a list of seven more points. She ended that part of the speech with this: “Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.”

It was an endorsement, yes, but not a particularly strong one. She never addressed Obama’s strong points, explaining to the millions of doubter why he is qualified, and more important, why they should vote for him.

So, Hillary Clinton did what she was expected to do, and what she had to do to remain a viable future Democrat candidate for President of the United States. A lot of people think what’s important to both of the Clintons is the nomination in 2012, not the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

I think they are right.

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