BY: Aaron MacLean
She is not a good speaker, and there was no chance she was going to transform magically into one for the purposes of her acceptance speech. Hillary is a careerist, an operator, a loving custodian of the artisanal political machine she and her husband have handcrafted from locally-sourced Manhattan ingredients.Read More
She is not a good speaker, and there was no chance she was going to transform magically into one for the purposes of her acceptance speech. Hillary is a careerist, an operator, a loving custodian of the artisanal political machine she and her husband have handcrafted from locally-sourced Manhattan ingredients.
Speaking of magic, the speech persisted with the mindbending trick played last night by Obama and which has become one of the defining features of this convention: the marriage of traditional, conservative, pro-American rhetoric with liberal policy boilerplate and identity politics. What could the hard-left Bernie supporters on the floor have thought as Clinton (and before her, the president) offered effusive praise for those dead, white, slave-owning men, the founding fathers? She cited Reagan in a swipe at Trump and made a gesture toward the importance of limiting the power of the executive branch, making an unsubtle rhetorical case that the Democratic Party is the place for those who love America.
What is so jarring and disorienting is that Clinton of course made no effort to address the profound tensions between that Heritage Foundation kind of stuff and the laundry list of progressive legislative proposals (and executive actions?) she also cited, on gun control and overturning Citizens United and voting rights and student loans and fighting “systemic racism” and on and on. But why bother? Trump’s Republican Party has entirely abandoned the territory of loving America as it is. Why not just occupy it, and leave the tensions for another time? The Democratic Party of its 2016 convention has to a great extent somehow become, rhetorically at least, both parties. It contains multitudes.
One is tempted to say that at least some of this new emphasis is not just rhetorical but real: a transition from Obama’s hard-center-leftism to Hillary’s more centrist instincts. But Obama was very much in on the effort in his own convention speech, so time will have to tell.
Hillary’s biggest applause line came when she cited the historical quality of her own nomination as a woman, a new high water mark for American identity politics. The crowd was decidedly more cool when she spoke of “defeating” America’s “enemies,” laid out her plan for ISIS (omitting the hawkish approach to Assad, which she has presented as integral to the effort in the past), and talked tough about Russia. But all indicators are that if anything about the occasional and surreal centrist flavor of her speech is real, it is moments like these. If she wins, men like John Allen, who have worked in the Obama administration and been embarrassed by its failures abroad, are going to be in her White House and Pentagon, and the left wing of the Democratic Party (and the Obama inner circle) is just going to have to live with a new, more hawkish approach.
The Clinton machine slouches toward Washington, using Trump’s narrow, dark appeal as an opportunity to present itself as all things to all Americans. A healthy majority of the other Republicans in this year’s field would have defeated it handily.Read Less