Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillary News & Views 7.26: First Ladies, Unity, and the Myth of Low Enthusiasm


Today’s Hillary News & Views begins, of course, with coverage of the first night of the Democratic Convention, which featured rousing speeches from Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, Senator Booker, and most powerfully, First Lady Michelle Obama.
I’m going to start with FLOTUS. Not only was it the most powerful speech of the night, it also crystallized the unique and intertwined history that First Lady Obama shares with former First Lady Clinton: they both shattered historical precedents in their first national role, starting new legacies and opening new opportunities with fewer limitations of race and gender.

The Atlantic reports:
Most convention speeches are forgotten almost before they’re finished. But tonight in Philadelphia, Michelle Obama delivered a speech that will be replayed, quoted, and anthologized for years. It was as pure a piece of political oratory as this campaign has offered, and instantly entered the pantheon of great convention speeches.
She did it, moreover, her own way—forming a striking contrast with the night’s other speakers. She did it without shouting at the crowd. Without overtly slamming Republicans. Without turning explicitly negative. Her speech was laden with sharp barbs, but she delivered them calmly, sometimes wryly, biting her lower lip, hitting her cadence. It was a masterful performance.
She offered an upbeat vision of how far America had come, and—like her husband 12 years before—put herself forward as living evidence of what American ideals might accomplish. “That is the story of this country,” she said.
“The story that has brought me to this stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.
“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”
Washington Post reports:
In an address not much longer than 10 minutes, the first lady brought a sense of context and history to the race — and, indeed, the state of the country — that, in its telling, demanded that the nation raise its gaze from the ugliness into which its politics have descended. She appealed to Americans’ better natures.
Obama premised her speech on a simple theme: dignity. Rather than repeat all the labels Democrats will, with good reason, hurl at Donald Trump this week — bigot, demagogue, threat to the Republic — she simply insisted that Americans should demand better. National leaders bear a special responsibility to behave with care, she argued.
“Our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to children across this country,” she said. “Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide open, he wondered, ‘Is my hair like yours?’” The stakes in this election higher than “Democrat or Republican” and “black or white,” she said. The country faces a moral choice, now more than ever. Voters who are considering Trump because they want to send a message to Washington, she implied, must consider the cost of sending a national embarrassment to the Oval Office.
Obama’s speech was not just about Trump. It was about how an advanced society relates to its history and confronts adversity. In the most moving line of the night, Obama addressed rising racial anxieties, speaking of “the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight. The story of people who felt the last of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done, so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” Progress may seem slow, but it has happened, and it can continue to happen if Americans are willing to apply patience and hard work in good faith. “Don’t let anyone tell you that the country isn’t great,” she said. “We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical.”
Vanity Fair reports:
“Barack [Obama] and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight,” she said. “How we urge them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that once someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level. No, our motto is, ‘when they go low, we go high.’ With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us.”
Obama never mentioned Donald Trump by name. But as she spoke about the need to elect a president with whom they could entrust the future of their children, she heavily hinted that someone “angry or disillusioned,” who liked to swear and degrade people, could not be a role model to young Americans.
“I want someone with the proven strength to persevere,” she said. “Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can't make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well informed.”
“I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters. A president who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago, that we are all created equal. Each a beloved part of the great American story. And when crisis hits, we don't turn against each other. No, we listen to each other. We lean on each other because we are always stronger together.”
The Guardian reports:
Here, at last, the profound, moving and devastating riposte to Donald Trump that many in America, and the world, had been waiting for. And the antidote to the non-politician came from another non-politician – a mother.
Michelle Obama, the first black first lady in American history, gave a 15-minute address to the Democratic national convention that drew cheers, left some delegates openly weeping and did more than any governor or congressman to unite and fire up the party for November’s presidential election.
It also added a chapter to the dynastic saga of the Obamas and the Clintons, coming four years after Bill Clinton gave an extraordinary speech to help Barack Obama get re-elected.
The former president was in the audience on Monday – caught on camera mouthing the word “wow” as Michelle Obama delivered one of the most passionate speeches of election year. On Twitter, President Obama wrote: “Incredible speech by an incredible woman.”
She made reference to a speech made by Hillary Clinton when she conceded defeat to Barack Obama in 2008, saying: “We weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time” after a bruising primary campaign.
Clinton “has the grace and the guts to keep coming back and put cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling until she finally breaks through, lifting all of us with her”, the first lady told a packed arena in Philadelphia. “That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to this stage tonight.”
Obama went on: “And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise. A leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.”
Boston Globe has the full transcript. My favorite passage not included above:
No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. (Applause.) And I am here tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be President of the United States, and that is our friend, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
See, I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children –- not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection –- (applause) -- but every child who needs a champion: Kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs. Kids who wonder how they’ll ever afford college. Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English but dream of a better life. Kids who look to us to determine who and what they can be.
You see, Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless, thankless work to actually make a difference in their lives -- (applause) -- advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer. Fighting for children’s health care as First Lady and for quality child care in the Senate. And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned. (Applause.) Hillary did not pack up and go home. Because as a true public servant, Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments. (Applause.) So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as Secretary of State, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.
And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing -- what I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. (Applause.) She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. (Applause.)

When y’all are done wiping the tears away, we can talk a bit about unity!

Here’s my contribution to unity: I’m not giving any oxygen to those who attempted to undermine it yesterday because they don’t represent the supporters of Senator Sanders or the senator himself.

We’re already a unified party.

The New Republic reports:
At no point Monday did anyone read plagiarized text. At no point did anyone say anything racist or blame anyone for anyone else’s death. None of the invited speakers called for Donald Trump to be imprisoned or encouraged the delegates to do so. Nobody told Democrats they had permission to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton. The convention organizers settled on themes, and then invited guests on stage who could speak to those themes without veering off topic—the disabled person who criticized Trump for mocking disabled people; the undocumented 11-year-old who worries that her mother will be deported.
Senator Cory Booker’s pre-primetime speech was the first to overpower the Sanders holdouts. Michelle Obama’s, by universal acclaim, will join the pantheon of great convention addresses. And Sanders himself spoke well past the 11 p.m. network TV cutoff point, in part because the delegates of both candidates interrupted his remarks with standing ovations over and over again. The range of talent on display was such that the keynote address, by Senator Elizabeth Warren—one of Hillary Clinton’s most effective surrogates and a trusted figure among Sanders supporters—largely disappeared behind the others. And it was a good speech, too.
In a different climate, clustering so many big draws into one night, when they could have been spread out more evenly, would have been an error. But in this case it was a matter of necessity. The coming three days will feature headline speeches by Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic VP nominee Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and Hillary herself. Packing the lineup on Monday night was simply a matter of necessity.
Clinton’s convention lineup wasn’t designed to contrast with Trump’s brigade of C-list celebrities and agitators, though it did do that. It was instead meant to serve as a demonstration that Clinton is widely respected in the Democratic Party, which is much less divided than a handful of Sanders delegates would have you believe. Where Trump insists to the public that Republicans are unified, Clinton and her supporters showed that they are.
The “Hillary Haters” are always going to be here, but we’ve gotten back to the point where most of them are on the right again.

Writing for Blue Nation Review, Peter Daou is thankful for them:
Dear Hillary Haters,
Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
You are one of the reasons I fight so hard for Hillary. You are one of the reasons millions of her supporters fight so hard for her.
Hillary is living proof that love and kindness are stronger than hate and division.
Witnessing that principle in action means everything to me; it gives me hope. I thank you for giving Hillary the opportunity to show my kids that positive energy triumphs over negative. There are few greater lessons in life.
You get louder, angrier — and still she’s calm. Still she laughs and smiles.
Thank you, Hillary haters, thank you. For showing the world how strong she really is. For providing contrast that makes her discipline and integrity shine even brighter.
Thank you for living in a state of hate so that we can see the value of forgiveness and love even more clearly.
In a powerful Storify, Melissa McEwan decimates the argument that Clinton’s supporters are low in enthusiasm.

She wrote a bit more about this for Shakesville, too:
I've said it once, or a hundred times, before and now I'll say it again:
Clinton's base of supporters is largely comprised of people of color, white women, LGBTx people, Latinx immigrants, and other marginalized groups.

To consistently disappear us—and our enthusiasm—in service to a narrative that is patently false is some hot garbage.

And it would be bad enough if it was just being done to try to discredit a historic female candidate, but it is being done to try to discredit her in the middle of an election in which her only meaningful competitor is a white supremacist authoritarian patriarch who unapologetically disgorges every shade of bigotry as the centerpiece of his campaign. A person who actively and expressly wants to make our lives worse.

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