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Hillary Delivers The Goods

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August 28, 2008

Like many critics of Hillary Clinton’s performance during this Primary season, I was very skeptical about whether she would deliver a whole-hearted endorsement of Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention.  My reaction to her speech on Tuesday night was similar to what I heard from the voices in my TV.  My first exclamation at the close of her speech, was:  “Out of the park and 300 feet above Waveland Avenue, all the way across!”  Keith Olbermann’s voice then came out of the TV, saying: “Grand Slam!” repeatedly.  After a minute, David Gregory asked New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to critique the speech.  Richardson described it as “a 500-foot home run”.

After hearing her speech, I felt motivated to apologize for publicly doubting her loyalty to the Democratic Party.  She really did “deliver the goods” by giving what was, perhaps, her best speech on the campaign stump.  Although many of us were surprised by the substance of her speech, I was particularly impressed by her delivery.  Hillary had always addressed her audiences with Lieberman-esque stiffness.  Imagine someone saying “let us go forward” with a groaning, insincere tone for the 10,000th time.  That was the way Hillary used to speak.  In defeat, she really did find her voice.  Although she claimed that happened after her “close call” in New Hampshire, I believe that deep in her heart, she must have known she would not really find her voice until she would be completely vanquished in this campaign.  Once the weight of the world was (literally) lifted off her shoulders, she was able to freely and candidly express herself to the voters.  She needs to review the videos of this speech to reinforce her better public speaking skills, as an example of “how it is done properly”.  The look in Bill’s eyes told the story:  Hillary had finally cultivated her public speaking skills to the level where they belong.  Right on the heels of the Summer Olympics, where we saw so many American women win so many medals, we saw an American woman who ran for the Presidency, delivering a solid performance for Team U.S.A.  I’m sure the audience saw it this way and it was reflected in the sports metaphors used by so many, expressing their reactions to this speech.

I was glad to see the individuals mentioned in my “Women To Watch” article (June 19) behind the podium during the first two days of this Convention.  At the Republican Convention, we will not see this many women speaking, unless they run some sort of “Abortion Confessional” feature.  (John Waters would be the perfect director for such a piece.)

Bill Clinton’s only challenge at this Convention was to show that he still has “the old magic”.  It was not unlike an extended, Keith Richards guitar solo at a Rolling Stones concert.  All he had to do was go out and give the audience a little of the old  …  “little of the old”.   It worked.  Bill was back with his unique ability to enrapture a crowd.  The audience responded warmly to him.

By this point in the Democratic Convention, no speaker had yet really slaughtered John McCain or the Republicans to the extent many Democrats had anticipated.  Patrick Buchanan of MSNBC voiced his criticism that McCain had been “getting a free ride” at this Convention.  His remark drew a round of applause from the largely-Democratic, outdoor crowd at Union Station in Denver.

Finally, Joe Biden stepped up to serve the audience some petit filet mignon.  Democrats aren’t big on red meat.  They’re mostly a “fish” crowd, preferring high levels of mercury over the risk of colon cancer.  The avoidance of “red meat” had been obvious all week.  It was beginning to show.  Had the arugula vegans taken over Obama’s campaign once and for all?  Biden gave the Convention program just what it needed:  some hardball pitches at McCain’s failed foreign policy positions, contrasted with Obama’s foreign policy ideas, some of which were ratified by the Bush Administration even after McCain had dissed them as nonsense.

For his part, Obama educated his Republican critics about the characterization of him as a “celebrity”.  They just can’t get a handle on it.  On Wednesday night, Obama made it clear that he is not just a celebrity …  He’s an “M.C.”  (This means “master of ceremonies” to all of us still using SPF 30 sunscreen in late August.)  “M.C. Barack” had things under control by the end of Wednesday night.  Let’s see how he does on Thursday.

Let The Games Begin!

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August 25, 2008

It seems ironic to be saying this upon the closing of the Summer Olympics.  The Democratic and Republican Conventions run through back-to-back weeks, with Labor Day Weekend in the middle.  As the Democratic Party’s show begins, there is a healthy bit of attention focused on those disgruntled supporters of Hillary Clinton and how they plan to entertain us for the next week.  Of course, nearly all of them are women.  Their rallying call is to decry the sexually-harassing coverage of Hillary’s candidacy.  (The bulk of it was provided by the right-wing media, such as: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.)  I saw one of Hillary’s die-hard  supporters on one of the news-related talk shows last week.  Her point that Obama “can’t close the deal” was a flashback to the Primary season rhetoric, exhibiting some sexual double-entendre, usually indicative of the commentator’s own sexual issues.  As I pondered this, I began to wonder whether some of these outraged women might have experienced some workplace-related gender harassment or bias, themselves.  Taking action on their own behalf to assert such a claim before the EEOC or in court, could result in retaliatory discharge from employment.  Although actionable, such illegal employer conduct is conveniently facilitated during a recession with a poor job market.  I began to wonder to what extent Hillary Clinton became a hero for those women with workplace-related gender bias experiences and to what extent that issue had become an emotional motivator in the Democratic nomination race.

It appears as though Obama may have a way to win the support of some of these voters.  Perhaps by acknowledging that this was indeed a close nomination race, with an obvious element of sexist harassment directed against Hillary Clinton from certain quarters and that we can understand the indignation of those people who fought so hard in the Clinton campaign.  Accordingly, some pro-active remedial steps could be taken by Barack as the nominee.  I began to envision Obama healing this rift in the party with his acceptance speech:

We all saw how Hillary Clinton was sexually harassed and degraded by some in the right-wing media such as the Fox News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh during the Primaries.  By the way:  What is Rush Limbaugh doing — sexually harassing someone, when he’s sitting there with that long, tube-like, golden microphone up against his mouth?  We need to ask a psychologist to explain that golden, phallic microphone up against Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.  Did you ever see that thing?  He’s talking on the public airwaves.  The use of those airwaves is licensed by the FCC.  That’s why people can’t say curse words on the public airwaves like they can on cable.  If people can’t say curse words on the airwaves, then they shouldn’t be able to sexually harass female politicians or political spouses, especially during election campaigns.  This is why, if elected President, I will introduce my Presidential Initiative for Gender Harassment Sanctions – or:  PIGHS.  If someone starts up with the kind of nasty talk we heard from Rush Limbaugh about Hillary Clinton or even Elizabeth Edwards, the FCC will fine any broadcast radio station or TV station airing this offensive conduct.

I wouldn’t expect this strategy to win over every disgruntled Clinton supporter for the Obama – Biden ticket, although it could have an effect.  There is always the possibility that some of those vocal, anti-Obama, pro-Clinton die-hards might just close the curtain of the voting booth, realize that no one else is looking  …  and vote for Obama – Biden.

In the mean time, we have the real Democratic Convention ahead of us  … with some entertaining fights and at least two interesting speeches.  The McCain camp is promising some good “attack” ads for the commercial breaks.  The Olympics may be over … but the most important games that will control our society’s well-being for the next four years are going on right now.  Don’t let yourself get “played”.