Seriously, she does. Not only does she pronounce the word “a” slowly and distinctly, like it’s the answer to a multiple-choice question, without linking it to the words before or after, and not only does she sometimes put little pauses between each word (“it’s . . . America’s . . . basic . . . bargain”) or in inappropriate spots (“it’s the same old . . . song”), but she often puts odd stresses on words, seemingly at random: “too many of our kids never learn as they should”; “we see far more opportunities than threats”; “fight back against those who would drive us apart.” Toward the end of her speech she began to seem a bit more natural, but for most of it, she sounded like a machine that had been programmed to synthesize speech and was still learning the fine points. Her husband and President Obama are much better at sounding like they aren’t reading from a script.
A few more notes from Hillaryfest:
—If you’ve ever been to a high-school pep rally, it was almost certainly better organized than this event. First a blind college student gave a so-so rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and then a “DREAMer” who recently graduated from the University of Texas came out and told her presumably inspiring life story — in Spanish. They were followed by a drum line from Brooklyn, which lent an incongruous note of excitement to the soporific proceedings. Then a decidedly mediocre rock band came out (after 15 minutes of setting up by their roadie) and did three forgettable songs whose lyrics no one could understand. The bass and guitar guys wore suits with the trouser cuffs rolled up so you could see their ankles. The band was followed by 40 minutes of silence, occasionally punctuated by random people wearing ID badges who walked onto the stage, looked around, and left. Then Bill Clinton showed up in the audience, and everyone got more excited for him than they would for Hillary. Finally, just before noon, Herself arrived. Before the event began, nobody who was standing on line had any idea when Hillary was scheduled to speak; evidently, neither did the organizers.
—During these longueurs, the PA system played the same half-dozen songs over and over. One of them was Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” — a title very much in keeping with her campaign theme of Hillary the Fighter, but knowing what we do about the Clintons, each of the 37 times it was played, I found the opening line a little jarring: “You know the bed feels warmer, sleeping here alone . . . ”
—The drum line was sponsored by a group that organizes projects in “underserved” neighborhoods. That’s the term people use nowadays. We used to call them “poor” neighborhoods, then “disadvantaged,” then “underprivileged,” and now it’s “underserved,” as if the only reason Bedford-Stuyvesant is a tougher place than Brooklyn Heights is that the government doesn’t spend enough money there.
—The MC thanked just about every politician within 100 miles, including even Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter (for some reason) — but not the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. He and Hillary have been feuding, and her people wanted to let everyone know that she’s not going to let it drop. When it comes to punishing enemy mayors, Chris Christie has nothing on Hillary.
—Hillary’s speech contained more boilerplate than a steamboat factory, but the gist of it was: “I’m down with the working class and I have lots of innovative new ideas.” Yeah, that’ll work. (She quoted lyrics from a Beatles song to explain that the GOP is stuck in the past.)
—Hillary promised: “I will rewrite the tax code to reward corporations for making long-term investments and penalize them for short-term thinking.” The merits of this proposal aside, this statement is ridiculous and Hillary knows it, because Congress writes the tax code, not the president. All presidential candidates talk this way, as if the very force of their oratory and the sweeping mandate they expect from the voters will surely bend Congress to their will. All such campaign plans and proposals should be considered as essentially answers to the question, “What would you do if you had ten wishes?” (or, in Hillary’s case, more like 20). But we all keep treating them as if they actually meant something.
—At one point in Hillary’s speech, she was discussing issues that affect American families. She ran through the usual Democratic list: “Maternity leave is an issue!,” and similarly for the (bogus) male-female pay gap, insufficient funding for schools, etc. Each of these mentions was greeted with loud cheers. Then she said: “Declining marriage rates is an issue!” Dead silence. Wrong crowd to pull that line out on, Hillary . . .
—Hillary also said: “No nation is better equipped than ours to meet the threat of cyber-attacks.” She actually said that (and was cheered for it). Evidently she’s been too busy to read the paper the last couple of days.
—Everyone who was working the event, on crowd control or selling t-shirts or addressing the audience from the stage, used the phrase “you guys” repeatedly. Guess they didn’t get the message that it’s now officially sexist.