2008 Hillary’s Speech
posted by August 27 at 9:00 AMon
As Annie mentioned in last night’s LiveSlog, while she was up in our increasingly messy work space…
…I was down on the floor of the convention hall watching Hillary Clinton address the delegates (and also Bill in his sky-box, and Michelle in hers, and the thousands of press people looking for any hint of on-stage peevishness).
It was so packed on the floor that one couldn’t really move. I was told to watch my elbows and had a lot of delegate flesh pressed up against me. But that’s not unusual. It seems, actually, to be a nightly occurrence on the floor. The people who come to Democratic conventions want to be at the center of it all—who wouldn’t, really?—so everyone’s always angling for a floor pass and, outside the hall, eying everyone else’s credentials to see if they got one.
Two nights ago I went out to the post-speech parties wearing a Hall Pass (which doesn’t get you on the floor), and got some “Yeah, me too” looks. Last night I went out wearing my Floor Pass and got a lot of compliments, questions, and “Wish I’d had one of those” looks.
The floor was great. Everyone seems drunk, either off the excitement of the moment or pre-speech boozing, and everyone’s there. I wiggled my way into a spot near the Pennsylvania delegation, and was standing next to Gov. Ed Rendell and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell (who definitely validates the notion that TV can makes a person seem taller). Convention staffers wearing neon traffic-cop-like vests ran back and forth hauling garbage bags full of placards and signs on long white cardboard tubes, passing them down the aisles at the appointed moments, yelling at certain enthusiastic delegates not to hold their “Hillary” signs aloft too soon.
I felt bad for Clinton when she walked onto the stage and the convention was all thunderous cheering and “Hillary” sign waving. If you didn’t know the back-story, you’d have thought by the crowd reaction that she was walking out to accept the Democratic nomination. She seemed to register this irony, and also the hard reality that Democrats love her—just not as much as him. That’s got to hurt.
She was magnanimous. Her “No way, no how, no McCain” line seems sure to join some of the other speakers’ catchy phrases from last night—”Four more months!” and “That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick”—in Obama surrogate talking points from here on out. And her appeal to her supporters to ask themselves what they were really supporting—a person or a set of principles, just Hillary Clinton or the veterans and teachers and invisible Americans she championed—was, I thought, her best, most selfless moment.
The deep affection Democrats have for Hillary Clinton (and Bill, who caused all manner of heads to turn when he entered his sky-box) recalled the reception Ted Kennedy received on Monday night. And this, it occurred to me on the floor, may be where Hillary Clinton is heading. The reality is that Kennedy is likely to die soon. Hillary, with her devotion to healthcare and her failed presidential bid and her stature within the party, is the natural heir to Ted Kennedy’s Senate role—the champion of needy Americans who tried for the presidency, lost, and returned to the Senate to become its leading voice on healthcare and other difficult liberal concerns.
That’s not the role she wanted. But it’s not a bad one to take on.
Full video of the Clinton speech is in the jump, and up tonight: Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.