Hillary and me

Damn do I love being in a swing state.  Hillary Clinton came to Raleigh this afternoon.  Perfect, convenient timing for me and I was even able to take my oldest with me (that’s Hillary as the tiny figure at the podium behind us).


And, since you cannot actually tell that’s Hillary, here she is with the high digital zoom on my phone.


Anyway, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I’m not much of a fan of political speeches, even from the best.  I’ve been in audiences rapturous for Obama but I was just thinking about 1) the actual policies he was talking about; 2) the nature of rapturous audience responses.  Point being, Hillary was never going to get me fired up.  That said, I think she has turned herself into a damn fine speaker over the years.  Is she Obama?  Or her husband?  No.  But again, plenty, plenty good enough.  Also, unlike her husband, she actually started early.  How’s that for campaign discipline.

As for what she actually said, I zoned out for a lot (it was long! and I bore easily), but the audience loved it.  And I learned via Vox that this was actually intended to be a pretty important speech.  My son David asked me during the speech, something along the lines of, “so, is this just a bunch of typical exaggeration and sound bites.”  And, actually, no.  It was chock full of smart policy proposals with some vague pandering here and there.  But when it came to policy, generally, smart, thoughtful stuff, which is why in many ways I am a big fan of Hillary Clinton.  Sure, she’s got her flaws, but she’s kind of a liberal policy wonk’s dream candidate as she takes policy more seriously than about any politician out there.

Anyway, as mentioned, Vox’s Jeff Stein explains why this was an important speech:

But while Clinton’s speech didn’t itself break new ground, it was more interesting — and significant — for what she did not do.

Many commentators have speculated that after locking up the nomination, Clinton would be tempted to bolt to the center to win over moderate Republicans put off by Donald Trump. Her speech today was as clear a sign as we’ve gotten that she’s not ready to do that — at least not yet.

Instead, it suggests she remains focused on trying to unite the Democratic Party ahead of her general election push…

Short of that, Clinton may have felt that she could win over moderates not by directly appealing to them but simply by toning down the economic progressivism and simply hammering Trump as “temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified” for office.

That wasn’t the case today. Here are some of the moments of her campaign that showed she’s still working to unite the Democratic Party:

  • She attacked Wall Street for “undermining workers’ rights.”
  • Clinton delivered standard partisan lines about the economy. “Twice now over the past 30 years, a Republican president has caused an economic mess and a Democratic president has come to clean it up,” Clinton said.
  • She said corporations had advanced policies that came “at the expense of their workers and their long-term value.”
  • She advanced a plan of making debt-free college available to all students.

You could imagine a speech in which Clinton tried backing positions — like implementing business tax reform and promising to drive down the debt — to win over moderate Republicans.

These positions would certainly put Clinton to the right of where she was over the course of the primary. Doing so would also run the risk of letting Donald Trump move to her left on trade policy, given his repeated defense of protectionism — a defense he reiteratedagain today.

But the positions wouldn’t even really be that far beyond the Democratic Party: Obama has criticized Wall Street, but he’s also at times emphasized deficit reduction and business-friendly tax policies.

Maybe we’ll get that message from Clinton later in the campaign. But, for now, she appears still concerned about solidifying her left flank.

Come to think of it, at the time it did strike me as pretty heavy on the Wall Street bashing (which led to a good post-speech explanation of Wall Street for David), but kind of hard not to imagine that in a speech to a bunch of Democrats coming out to here a campaign speech.

Mostly though, as cynical as I can be about politics, I’m not going to pass up a chance to see what I think will be the next president– and take my appreciative-of-the-moment teenager– when she’s appearing just miles from my house.

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