2008 The Last Goodbye: Blogging Clinton’s Withdrawal and (Presumably) Endorsement Speech
posted by June 7 at 9:02 AMon
Good morning. Anyone awake out there in Slogland? I wish I wasn’t, but here we are, a few minutes away from Clinton’s speech…
8:55 a.m. My preferred livestream is here, and while we wait I’m reading about how, “Now that a would-be first female president is ending her quest for the White House, the race is more about women than ever before.”
9:12 a.m. Why hello, all of you. Looks like we have a crowd. Clinton was supposed to speak at 9 a.m. PST but these things never start on time. I’ve now moved on to reading, while I wait, about why her loss was her own damn fault.
9:29 a.m. Still waiting… Predictions on who will introduce her? Terry McAuliffe again? (He introduced her at her last valedictory speech as “the next president of the United States.”) Or maybe Bill Clinton? Or Chelsea? Or—and this would be a huge surprise—Obama?
9:35 a.m. As someone in the comments just noted, Clinton’s web site is now asking visitors to “support Senator Obama today.”
9:38 a.m. Commenter Kathryn Rathke writes:
I am picturing her clinging to the door jambs with her fingernails. Where are they anyway, somewhere in Italy?
Yes, it is very Roman colosseum in there, isn’t it? The event is at the National Building Museum in D.C.
9:40 a.m. And here we go. Bill, Chelsea, Hillary, and Hillary’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, have just been introduced by an announcer and are headed toward the stage.
9:43 a.m. The four of them take the stage and join hands, but instead of raising their joined hands together in the traditional victory salute, they keep them at their sides. Then Bill, Chelsea, and Dorothy leave the stage.
Well, this isn’t exactly the party I’d planned but I still like the company.
9:47 a.m. Clinton begins by praising her supporters and promising: “I will continue to stand strong with you, every way and every place that I can.” She also notes, again, that there are 18 million of them.
9:50 a.m. “The way to continue our fight now… is to do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.” She is suspending her campaign, endorsing Obama, and throwing her full support behind him.
9:53 a.m. She doesn’t look happy about it, but she is praising Obama at some length here, repeating his name and reminding her crowd that the Democratic party is a family that needs to come together now.
9:55 a.m. As she ticks off the list of issues that are important to her, the first is healthcare—and she again mentions her hope for universal healthcare, which she had tried to make a point of contrast with Obama during the primaries.
9:58 a.m. Echoing Obama’s speech on Tuesday—in which he said something like, “America, this is our moment”—Clinton says: “We cannot let this moment slip away.”
And then, the most quotable line so far: “Today I am standing with Senator Obama to say, ‘Yes we can.’”
10:00 a.m. It’s really striking: Clinton only has an easy smile when she’s talking about her campaign and what it accomplished (at the moment she’s saying that she proved a woman could be elected Commander in Chief). When she talks about Obama, it’s far from all smiles. Her mouth is saying one thing, her face is saying another.
10:05 a.m. Clinton talks about running as a woman. This is, to me, the most interesting and most powerful part of her speech. She never talked about this on the campaign trail, saying only that she wasn’t running as a woman, but as a candidate for president who happened to be a woman.
But now it’s very clear just how strongly she felt about her barrier-breaking candidacy. She talks for a long time about this—maybe the longest amount of time she devoted to any subject in this speech—concluding with:
Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest and hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it’s got about 18 million cracks in it and the light is shining through like never before.
10:15 a.m. Also:
It would break my heart if in falling short of my goal I in any discouraged any of you from pursuing your goals.
Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward. Life is too short, time is too precious and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been.
10:16 a.m. It ends with Clinton on the stage, briefly, giving a double thumbs up and waving, standing with Bill and Chelsea, and then exiting and reaching out to shake the hands—overwhelmingly female from what I can see on the livestream—that are waiting to bid her farewell and good luck.
10:24 a.m. Final thoughts: A long, gracious, and ultimately quite moving speech, obviously very difficult for her to give but probably as helpful to her battered image as to Obama’s campaign. Clinton needed to connect, without equivocation, with the electoral reality that most Democrats now perceive. She did that, repeatedly throwing her support behind Obama and setting herself up to move toward the Ted Kennedy model—lose a nomination fight but move on, get back to work, and win the undying loyalty of several core Democratic constituencies (the ones she plugged repeatedly were women, gays, and lower income voters from what I remember) by proving that you’re ultimately in it for them and not for yourself.
I was also struck by how powerful it was to see Clinton finally speak honestly of her feelings about running as a woman. She couldn’t—or felt she couldn’t—do this on the campaign trail. I was glad to see her do it today. It’s a paradox that requires a little more digesting, at least for me, but Clinton seemed so much more free to speak passionately as a woman, and talk forcefully about the barriers women still face, now that she isn’t running to be the first woman president.
I don’t know who freed up this side of her—her consultants? herself?—but it was great to watch this part of Clinton come out into the open. This is obviously such a huge part of who she is, such a central aspect of her passion for politics, and it’s a shame it couldn’t be seen more clearly before today.
If she can’t be president, Clinton seemed to be saying, she will still be one of the loudest voices speaking on behalf of gender equality. It was good to hear. It’s a voice that, as she knows, America still needs.