Hillary Clinton met all the political challenges she faced in accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination on Thursday: she spoke directly to economically anxious middle-class voters outside of the convention hall, displayed both a soft heart and a tough mind and set forth a liberal policy agenda for the country.
After several days of soaring and poetic, tough-act-to-follow speeches by President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and others, Clinton’s speech was authentic but prosaic, a smart, detailed and confident reflection of who she is.
Compared to Donald Trump’s huffing and puffing display of dark narcissism last week, Clinton’s 50-minute demonstration of knowledge, reason and experience clearly positioned her as a more credible and convincing figure to be president of the United States and leader of the Free World.
She amassed her evidence like the attorney she is, but drove the point home with two succinct and memorable lines:
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” she said at one point.
Then she referenced Jackie Kennedy’s recollection after the Cuban Missile Crisis: “What worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started – not by big men, with self-control and restraint, but by little men – the ones moved by fear and pride.”
Props to whoever on the speech team let the hanging reference to Trump’s small hands stay hanging.
You’re no FDR: Clinton’s mission was at once to show herself a believable president and to capitalize on Obama’s brilliant big tent speech that reduced her opponent to a single island of Trumpism — which Calbuzz described a year ago as “a toxic mixture of malevolence, testosterone and narcissism masquerading as a political world view.”
Reaching out to Republican voters who find Trumpism at odds with their party’s principles and confidence in American exceptionalism, Clinton argued Trump has “taken the Republican Party a long way… from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’ He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”
Borrowing one of the American history’s most iconic notions of national character, she added: “Well, a great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than eighty years ago, during a much more perilous time. ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’”
Seeking to disqualify Trump by highlighting his volatile temperament, she slashed at his egomania.
Don’t believe anyone who says: “I alone can fix it.” Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland. And they should set off alarm bells for all of us.
Really? I alone can fix it? Isn’t he forgetting? Troops on the front lines. Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger. Doctors and nurses who care for us. Teachers who change lives. Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem. Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe.
He’s forgetting every last one of us. Americans don’t say: “I alone can fix it.” We say: “We’ll fix it together.”
Taming of the shrew: The emotional high point of the evening, as detailed below, was provided by Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigrant, whose son Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004 by a vehicle filled with explosives, after sending his own men to safety.
Shortly after, Clinton was introduced by daughter Chelsea, who described Hillary as “wonderful, thoughtful and hilarious,” dedicated to public service and filled with “compassion, faith, a fierce sense of justice and a heart full of love.” It was testimony from an adoring child, for sure, but effective in providing a softer look at a woman demonized by the right as a heartless shrew.
TV cameras in the hall showed women and a few men in the audience choking up when Chelsea said, “I hope that someday my children will be as proud of me as I am of my mom.”
We should be so lucky.
Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all, if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign.
If you believe that companies should share profits with their workers, not pad executive bonuses, join us. If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage… and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty… join us.
If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care…join us. If you believe that we should say “no” to unfair trade deals… that we should stand up to China… that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers…join us.
If you believe we should expand Social Security and protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions… join us.
And yes, if you believe that your working mother, wife, sister, or daughter deserves equal pay… join us… Let’s make sure this economy works for everyone, not just those at the top.
Now, you didn’t hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention. He spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd. And he offered zero solutions.
But we already know he doesn’t believe these things. No wonder he doesn’t like talking about his plans. You might have noticed, I love talking about mine.
In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II. Jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure.
If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future. And we will transform the way we prepare our young people for those jobs.
Commander in Chief: Even as she vowed to defeat ISIS and combat terrorism, she made the point that America cannot count on Trump to lead the fight.
The choice we face is just as stark when it comes to our national security. Anyone reading the news can see the threats and turbulence we face. From Baghdad and Kabul, to Nice and Paris and Brussels, to San Bernardino and Orlando, we’re dealing with determined enemies that must be defeated.
No wonder people are anxious and looking for reassurance — looking for steady leadership.
That’s what Hillary was selling on Thursday night.
A couple other takeaways:
Khizr Khan: The most powerful speech of the night, and possibly the most important words delivered at either convention, was the subdued, seven-minute presentation by attorney, and Muslim immigrant, Khan.
Khan, whose wife stood silently at his side, told the story of their son, Humayun, the middle of their three boys, who was killed by a suicide bomber while serving as a U.S. Army Captain in Iraq in 2004, during an act of heroism that saved the lives of others in his unit.
The forceful dignity and humanity with which he described Humayun and his son’s quiet patriotism and courage stood as a redoubtable rebuke and public shaming of Trump’s hypocrisy and the hate he spews and incites about Muslims and immigrants.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan said, as he pulled a blue, pocket Constitution from his jacket.
“In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law. Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending [the] United States of America. You’ll see, all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.”
“You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Wow. If you missed it, you’ll find it here.
Although Calbuzzers of a certain age still instinctively remember Kareem as Lew Alcindor, we still weren’t fooled when he came on and introduced himself as someone else.
“I’m Michael Jordan, and I’m here with Hillary,” the UCLA and NBA basketball icon began, before pausing.”I said that because I know Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
Here’s Kareem’s schtick.
Although she’s now joined the family business, we’ve rarely seen her deliver a speech, let alone a major convention address. So the first few minutes of her introduction of Hillary were a little disorienting, as we struggled to piece together separate elements of her face – were those Bill’s eyes and Hillary’s nose, or the other way around? – and then to stop cringing at the cloying voice with which she began her treacly recitation (oddly, it put us in mind of the disaster that was Francis Ford Coppolla’s casting of his own daughter, Sophia, in “Godfather III.” But we digress).
Eventually Chelsea found her stride and, as for us, all those colors and lights swirling across our eyeballs retreated, and we finally awarded her a solid B on her near-impossible assignment of trying to make Hillary’s negatives go down by making her seem like an actual human being through the device of lovey-dovey stories from her childhood (at least she spared us whatever goo-goo ghee-ghee nicknames her own kids call Hillary) when every person in America knew that’s exactly what Chelsea was up to.
As for the short Hillary intro doc: We’re saving up to hire Morgan Freeman to narrate a brave corporate odyssey film about Calbuzz.
Here’s link to Chelsea.