Saturday, June 07, 2008


I know this will sound like a backhanded compliment, but I can't think of another way to say it. After the past 16 months I couldn't imagine ever saying this, but Hillary's remarks today were pure class.

Seriously. Props to her for a classy speech, well-delivered.

To be honest, anticipating the speech, I was ready to use some variation on "It's not the 'glass ceiling'; it's the 'ass' ceiling! As in, HRC is one." But thankfully you all were spared that second-rate bon mot.

I will say that a large part of her speech focused on the issue of being a woman, on being the female candidate for the highest office in the land, on the continuing battle for equal rights for women. It struck me that herein lies one of the primary missteps of her campaign: HRC never settled on a strategy or message regarding her gender in this race. She veered between being, in front of some audiences, The Female Candidate Fighting for All Women, and in front of others, being sort of non-gendered, as in not wishing to be judged on the gender criteria. It was a key misstep because her constant vacillation between the two: "I am strong enough to lead this country" and "Why do I get all the debate questions first?" had the effect of alienating many people. It also had the effect of weakening her message that she was just like any other candidate and should expect to be treated as such. Contrast with Obama whose entire goal in this race was to NOT be The Black Candidate but rather just The Candidate (Who Happens to Be Biracial). Note the constant efforts of the Clinton campaign and RNC surrogates (ie, Fox News) to MAKE him The Black Candidate, and note his campaign's (not always successful, thank you, Reverend Wright) rapid response to those efforts. Whichever way HRC picked, she could have crafted a strategy for victory and run with it. But the indecision and (I would say) obvious discomfort at having to choose really helped do her candidacy in. As Peggy Noonan said, Margaret Thatcher would have laughed at those Hillary Nutcrackers had they been made for her. Not in the "gee, that's funny" way, but in the "do you think that's going to get under my skin? Think again, asswipe" way. That's because Thatcher (who I otherwise do NOT recommend emulating, darlings) made the call early on that she was not The Female Prime Minister. She was The Prime Minister, end of story. There was therefore a consonance between her message and persona that evoked confidence in the electorate (or, that portion of the electorate who would ever vote Tory). By contrast, IMHO, one primary element of HRC's campaign has been the ongoing dissonance between message and tone, words and action, strategy and execution. Especially as it related to being a woman.

That said, she did everything she needed to do tonight, both for herself and for Obama.


Vigilante said...

Yes, she's back to being a classy lassy!

Vigilante said...

(Hope that sounds as classy as I meant it.)