I thought Hillary Clinton’s speech was the best of her campaign. authentic; she wrote much of it herself, and it sounded the raison d’etre for her campaign: this has been an historic moment for women. Regrettably, and in hindsight a big mistake, this rallying cry never really came to the fore as more than a subtext during the campaign.
The speech burnished her credentials as the progressive leader she was earlier in her career, and left no real space for her supporters not to shift to Obama. I saw no space here for McCain. Simply none.
Although it took more than 6 minutes 50 seconds to mention Obama’s name, her support appeared genuine, (although her face tightened up the first few times she spoke his name). I believe she will work hard for Obama, if not “her heart out.”
But, here is the “tell” of the speech for me. Towards the end of the speech, when thanking her staff, volunteers and supporters, Clinton said,
“Being human we are imperfect. that’s why we need each other. to catch each other when we falter. to encourage each other when we lose heart.. none of us can go it alone… the changes we are working for are only changes we can get if we work together…”
These lines don’t ring true. Coming on the heels of the swiftly written post mortems, it is clear that that Hillary and staff did not act as if they needed each other. They operated as discrete individuals (Penn, Wolfson, McCauliffe), not a team. They didn’t catch each other when they faltered; rather they stabbed the other in the back, repeatedly, creating lots of drama and some good tv, but little teamwork. Problem is Hillary thought she could go it alone; and Mark Penn thought he could go it alone, and so forth… and so they faltered, in message, organization, strategy and tactics.
By alternative, I also just watched the video of Barack Obama addressing his campaign workers in Chicago. While Clinton’s message to her staff and supporters rang hollow, this is where Obama’s message soared. He said,
“You worked hard. You lifted each other up. You covered for each other. You made up for each other’s mistakes. You didn’t blame each other when things went wrong. There was just a good mood, a good heart, to this campaign. That’s what I’m most proud of. Even if we had lost I would be proud of what we’ve built because nobody thought that we could build it. Everybody thought that at some point this thing was gonna be a flash in the pan. Collectively, you, most of you are I’m not even sure of drinking age… You’ve created the best political organization in America and probably the best political organization that we’ve seen in the last 30 or 40 years. That’s a pretty big deal…
While Hillary’s claims of organization and teamwork functioned in her speech as rhetoric, Obama’s low key remarks are the mark of his no drama authenticity; his street organizer’s creed etched into the mechanics of his presidential campaign. Thanks to Al Giordano from “The Field” whose great post on this Obama chat, provides the basis for this comparison. See Organizer in Chief
As terrific as Hillary’s closing campaign speech was, in the end, it becomes clear that her rhetoric could not be matched by the realities of her campaign. On the other hand, Obama’s rhetoric to his supporters and staff was not only spot on, but it transparently coincided with the realities of his campaign operation. Such transparency is the stuff of real leadership (inspiration + mechanics). In sum, these two speeches show how and why the democrats made the right choice.