The junior Butternut Squash from New York had the chance to unify the Democratic PUMAs (Party Unity, My Ass!) behind Obama, vilify Panama John, and pass the torch to the next generation of America.
She failed 2 out of 3.
What She Did Right
She did vilify McCain, and painted an accurate portrayal of McCain as being a Bush extension and puppet:
Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend. He has served our country with honor and courage. But we don't need four more years...of the last eight years. More economic stagnation…and less affordable health care. More high gas prices …and less alternative energy. More jobs getting shipped overseas…and fewer jobs created here. More skyrocketing debt...home foreclosures…and mounting bills that are crushing our middle class families. More war...less diplomacy. More of a government where the privileged come first…and everyone else comes last. John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's okay when women don't earn equal pay for equal work. With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.She did a good job of painting Panama John as a Bushite, and did a good job about showing where he's wrong on things. The Twin Cities line was a good one, but she should have referred to Bush and McCain as political twins to get it across better.
She even got the tagline right:
No way. No how. No McCain.It's easy to vilify McCain. After all, the man is a ne'er-do-well career government man:
John Sidney McCain is simply the worst possible Republican canididate for the GOP, and the best for the Democratic Party.
What She Did Wrong
First, she made the speech all about what she did, not what Barack Obama will do. For a much better taste of that, check out the speech by the terminally-ailing Ted Kennedy. He channeled his late brother's words and actually said what his brother did in 1960: that the torch has been passed to a new generation. Instead, her's what Hillary said:
I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world...to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.Later on:
For me, it's been a privilege to meet you in your homes, your workplaces, and your communities. Your stories reminded me everyday that America's greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people -- your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles. You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and...you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine. I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn't have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care. I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps t-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: "Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there….and then will you please help take care of me?" I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn't know what his family was going to do. I will always be grateful to everyone from all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the territories, who joined our campaign on behalf of all those people left out and left behind by the Bush Administrtation.See, it was about her. Even more later on, it was still about her, not Obama:
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, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance. To create a world class education system and make college affordable again. To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality - from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. To help every child live up to his or her God-given potential. To make America once again a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. To bring fiscal sanity back to Washington and make our government an instrument of the public good, not of private plunder. To restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home and honor their service by caring for our veterans. And to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming. Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years. Those are the reasons I ran for President.Only afterward did she make one reference to Obama:
Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.Yes, she did make some references to Obama, but most of the speech--almost half of it, was about Hillary Rodham Pumpkin. And that's not surprising, because to both her and her husband, it has always been Clinton first, Democratic Party second, America third. Always. was Hillary capable of delivering speech like Ted Kennedy? She can certainly technically do it, but her ego won't let her make that leap. That's why Obama was wise to not name her his Vice-Presidential choice or even consider her, PUMAs be damned.
Second, she fell short in passing the torch. The fact is, Clintons are the 90s Democratic Party. They're last millenium's news. This isn't 1960, but it's not far off with the generation switch, and the parallels are fascinating for the whole thing, from the outdoor acceptance speech to the parallels of JFK-BHO, Johnson-Biden, even McCain-Nixon. Hopefully for the nation's sake we won't relive 1963 again.
If you want to see the torch passed, look to Ted Kennedy, who despite his terminal brain tumor, kidney stones on the plane to Denver, and in general failing health, gave one helluva speech, and took up the mantle of his late brothers and rightfully passed on the torch they took up almost fifty years ago.
Other Miscellaneous Junk
There was a passing refernce to the Akransas DP chair being killed and Congressman Tubbs dying from too many lobbyist meals, but that was just political fluff which had no meaning.
There was also an inexplicable and long-winded reference to Harriet Tubman and the Underground. Why was that there? According to the speech, it was to get to the "keep going, but get going first" punchline, but she used it poorly, and it wound up playing to racist fears of the 1850s. It really had no place in this speech.
There was also this line:
We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America. This won't be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat in the White House.Why the vague references to "leaders" and "a Democrat" in the White House? Was she referring to herslef in the implicit, "you should have chosen me" attitude? Why not refer to Obama directly here? That doesn't make sense, unless she cribbed this from a campaign sppech she never used, or if it was intended for a speech had there been a floor fight for the nomination (which still might happen as of this writing if the PUMAs have their way!).
There was a section relating to the 19th Amendment, as if that had to do with anything that day. Pure political pandering to women only.
There was way too much emphasis on national health care, as if that would cure our national ills. (For my take on that mess, read here.)
Hillary the Great Pumpkin gets a B- for this speech, probably the most important one of her life, and that's being generous. She probably deserves a C. She would do worse if she had failed to mention Obama at al beyond the first minute. Obama's campaing is about change, and the new generation. Hillary missed the memo a long time ago, and that's why she lost.
And she still doesn't get it.