Has Hillary Clinton’s speech landed yet? Pundits predicted a mediocre end to a combative Democratic national convention, and Hillary did not disappoint. Her stemwinder turned into a snoozer almost immediately. Just ask Bill Clinton! Our friend Hugh Hewitt highlighted this clip from ABC’s news feed during Hillary’s acceptance speech, which Bill used more wisely than some of us by grabbing a few winks. Newly minted running mate Tim Kaine appears to notice it and run some interference for the former president:
Eh, he’s heard it all before … and so have we. Other than numerous attacks on Donald Trump, last night’s speech was the same Hillary Clinton who has trod upon the national political stage for the last quarter-century. She offered the same old appeals to gender, talked about the same issues as she usually covers, and spent almost the whole speech using the same loud monotone.
It wasn’t a poorly constructed speech, nor was the delivery terrible — they both were just relentlessly mediocre. There will be little remembered from the speech except the necessity of her supporters to start chanting in response to booing and heckling during the speech, which threw Hillary a couple of times. The best line from the speech — “America is great because America is good” — was lifted without recognition from Alexis de Tocqueville from almost two centuries ago. Otherwise, the speech was just a prosaic jumble of traditional Democratic hobby horses and rehashed reminiscences.
In fact, Day 4 of the Democratic convention probably should have been a travel day. The emotional climax of the event took place Wednesday evening, when Hillary Clinton embraced Barack Obama after his presidential valediction. All of the Democratic stars in the firmament aligned on Wednesday, and Obama offered the most effective case for unity. Thursday turned into a grind of B-list politicians offering predictable ramblings on the “Trump evil, Hillary good” theme. The lone exception was the Gold Star parents of a fallen American soldier, a Muslim who gave his life for his country, which turned into a powerful moment and the highlight of the evening for Democrats. (Allahpundit has a post upcoming on Khizr Khan’s speech.)
But it was only a moment. The nadir of the program arrived with Chelsea Clinton, who earnestly tried to humanize her mother, and clearly wanted to succeed. Unfortunately, her speechwriter filled the speech itself with a string of clichés and banalities that did the opposite, and it was delivered so poorly that it made the overall effect actively worse than the text. Chelsea didn’t even serve to make her mother look like a better orator, because the DNC stuck a video in between the two speeches narrated by the incomparable Morgan Freeman that blew up that contrasting effect. If Chelsea’s speech is a taste of what people pay $75,000 a throw to stage, then it’s painfully clear that they’re buying something else other than entertainment and enlightenment.
The media will ask whether the Democratic convention produces a bump for Hillary. The better question will be whether it will produce a lasting bump, and the same question applies to Trump as well. In the glow of the event, there should be an immediate bump for Hillary, but whether it lasts is dependent on the willingness of Bernie Sanders voters to unite behind Hillary or decamp to the Greens. Wait for about four weeks, and we should get a better sense of how the race lies when the convention dust settles from both Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Addendum: As one who attended the GOP convention in person and had friends in Philadelphia this week, I would like to thank all of the security forces that kept the peace in both places — local police, Secret Service, TSA, FBI, and all of the law-enforcement agencies from around the country that volunteered their people to stand watch. Great job. (And a special shout-out to the California Highway Patrol in Cleveland.)