Tonight’s acceptance speech by Hillary Clinton was not particularly enjoyable to listen to for 57 minutes, but it probably did the job. In fact, if she doesn’t get a sizable polling bump out of this convention, which largely worked and dodged the problems that Democrats feared, then it will be time for Hillary and her allies to panic.
By her standards, this was pretty good delivery. There were occasional moments where she enjoyed herself, speaking with genuine affection for Bill and Chelsea. Yet I’ve never seen anyone look so unhappy while telling us, “I’m so happy this day has come.”
She tried to reach out to her skeptics, declaring, “I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.” Eh, I’m not sure that’s the case, Madam Secretary. People feel like they know you, and they know what they think of you, and it’s not particularly fond or trusting. Even the best speechwriters in the world can’t change that.
You can tell that she feels she has a newfound purpose because Donald Trump is her rival. She’s not just collecting the title she felt she deserved back in 2008. If she had run against Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, she would have had to paint any of them as some unhinged right-wing extremist, eager to usher in a dystopian future by cutting taxes and taking money from the Koch brothers, etc.
With Trump, she has a target that’s given her one easy target after another: from ties made in Mexico to mocking a handicapped reporter to boasting he “know[s] more about ISIS than the generals do” or that “I alone can fix it.” She’s shooting fish in a barrel on those. The question is, did tonight bring these aspects of Trump to a new audience? Or is this already priced in with Trump? Is there any statement Trump could say that would shake his current level of support?
Even more, she gets to flatter Americans by telling them that voting for her is an act of national virtue: “America is great – because America is good.” The speech tried to mix a sales pitch to Trump-skeptic Republicans with a laundry list of liberal initiatives. We’ll see if that works; l suspect they’ll cancel each other out.
Finally, the Sanders delegates had every right to protest, but at some point, they should have just allowed her to finish. Their heckling, and the “HILL-A-RY” chants designed to drown out the heckling, further interrupted whatever rhythm or momentum the speech could build.