Tonight was Hillary's night at DNC '08 -- her night to shine, but also her night to be put to the test of Party loyalty. As a Hillary Clinton fan, but not a supporter, as someone who had the privilege to vote for her as my Senator when I lived in NY in 2000, but at first supported Edwards, and then Obama, I have to say she acquitted herself tonight well, if not perfectly.
This was her night for "catharsis" -- letting her supporters grieve for their dream deferred -- but also for proving herself a Democrat. She certainly allowed for the grief, and thanked her supporters for their fierce, intense, and, perhaps, fanatic loyalty. But then she pushed them to the edge and demanded that they prove their loyalty to her by falling in line behind the inevitable Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.
She posed the question to her supporters as a personal challenge:
I want you -- I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me, or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids?
Were you in it for that young boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?
Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges, leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in
Now, this will not be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat back into the White House.
We need to elect Barack Obama, because we need a president who understands that America can't compete in the global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in the new technologies that will build a green economy. We need a president who understands that the genius of America has always depended on the strength and vitality of the middle class.
Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down.
And he knows that government must be about "we the people," not "we the favored few."
And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he'll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our times.
Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, we did it before with President Clinton and the Democrats.
And if we do our part, we'll do it again with President Obama and the Democrats.
She then confronted the irrational notion that Hillary Supporters might strike a blow in her name, and in the name of feminism, by not voting for Barack Obama, but for John McCain, while at the same time undergutting the Republican candidate's tendency to exploit Clinton's primary season attacks on the presumptive Democratic nominee:
Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend. He has served our country with honor and courage. But we don't need four more years of the last eight years...
Senator Clinton: ... more economic stagnation and less affordable health care...
Senator Clinton: ... more high gas prices and less alternative energy...
Senator Clinton: ... more jobs getting shipped overseas and fewer jobs created here at home...
Senator Clinton: ... more skyrocketing debt, and home foreclosures, and mounting bills that are crushing middle-class families...
Senator Clinton: ... more war and less diplomacy...
Senator Clinton: ... more of a government where the privileged few come first and everyone else comes last.
Senator Clinton: Well, John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's OK when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.
Now, with an agenda like that, it makes perfect sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.
She ended with a stirring exhortation which could be read in two ways: 1] as a call to action for the 2008 Presidential campaign, and 2] as a call to her supporters to "keep the powder dry" for either 2012 or 2016:
I'm a United States senator because, in 1848, a group of courageous women, and a few brave men, gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights...
... to participate in the first convention on women's rights in our history. And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter, and a few sons and grandsons along the way.
These women and men looked into their daughters' eyes and imagined a fairer and freer world and found the strength to fight, to rally, to picket, to endure ridicule and harassment, and brave violence and jail.
And after so many decades, 88 years ago on this very day, the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, became enshrined in our Constitution.
My mother was born before women could vote. My daughter got to vote for her mother for president. This is the story of America, of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.
So how do we give this country back to them? By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her lives to bring slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
On that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice: "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."
And even in the darkest moments, that is what Americans have done. We have found the faith to keep going.
I have seen it. I have seen it in our teachers and our firefighters, our police officers, our nurses, our small-business owners, and our union workers. I've seen it in the men and women of our military.
In America, you always keep going. We're Americans. We're not big on quitting.
And, remember, before we can keep going, we've got to get going by electing Barack Obama the next president of the United States.
We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare. Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hangs in the balance. (my emphasis)
Was that clear and unambiguous enough for you, Howie?
It was an interesting night and, I think, a great speech. I feel like it went a long way toward unifying the Democratic Party (which is to say pacifying the anger of her most extreme supporters) and bringing it solidly behind Barack Obama. John McCain should have such solid support from Republicans (he doesn't).
As I was when I voted for her to become my Senator in 2000, I was proud of Hillary Clinton tonight.
God Bless America.