sexta-feira, 29 de julho de 2016

'I get it': Hillary Clinton seeks to finally explain her authentic self to America

'I get it': Hillary Clinton seeks to finally explain her authentic self to America

Democratic nominee says: ‘The truth is through all these years of public service, the ‘service’ part has always come easier to me than the ‘public’ part’

I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.”

It was with this humble admission that Hillary Clinton sought to reintroduce herself to a nation that has journeyed with her for over two decades.

Sabrina Siddiqui in Philadelphia
Friday 29 July 2016 06.40 BST

As one of the most well-known public figures to ever accept a party’s presidential nomination, Clinton arrived at the finale of the Democratic national convention on Thursday faced with a daunting task.

Millions bore witness this week as a cadre of the party’s brightest stars delivered soaring testimonials to Clinton’s qualifications and character. Among them were her husband Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, two of the most skilled orators American politics has ever known and, as the men Clinton seeks to succeed, predecessors with whom her own rhetorical gifts are often compared.
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Now it was her turn.

But taking the stage in Philadelphia, as the first female presidential nominee of a major party in US history, Clinton sought to emulate no one. Addressing the tens of thousands of jubilant supporters inside the arena and the millions of Americans watching at home, she had but one overarching goal: to persuade the skeptics who she really was, how she got there and why they should join her.

“My job titles only tell you what I’ve done. They don’t tell you why,” Clinton said.

“The truth is,” she then acknowledged, “through all these years of public service, the ‘service’ part has always come easier to me than the ‘public’ part.”

It was a break from the defensive tone with which Clinton has often responded when pilloried as unable to connect with voters or as unlikable in the eyes of the public; that she is the victim of a rightwing conspiracy or being treated unfairly. The relentless attacks she has faced in her expansive career, culminating in this election with the phrase “lock her up” becoming a slogan among Republican Donald Trump’s supporters and even some Democrats backing Bernie Sanders, have firmly shaped her public persona.

But Clinton’s acceptance speech was about much more than her – measured and methodically crafted, it was a direct rebuke of Trump’s embrace of authoritarian governance. And so, rather than shunning her critics, she ventured instead into the role of unifier to articulate the threat Trump posed to the very public service to which she owed her presence onstage.

“Our country’s motto is e pluribus unum: out of many, we are one,” Clinton said.

It seemed at the start of the election year that the moment Democrats witnessed on Thursday night in Philadelphia might elude her.

On a chilly January weekend, she stood inside a gymnasium in Iowa with one month remaining until the first contest of the Democratic presidential primary.

Roughly 700 voters had braved the freezing temperatures to see Clinton speak, then a feat for her campaign and paling in comparison with the thousands flocking to see Vermont senator Sanders across the country.

As the nominating contests began, she would go on to effectively tie with Sanders in Iowa and lose the state of New Hampshire – casting doubt over the trajectory of her campaign and whether Clinton was, after all, destined to break “the highest, hardest glass ceiling” in which she had put 18m cracks eight years earlier.

But she pressed on, adopting the issues Sanders championed under the moniker of progressive pragmatism. She fought to keep in her fold the reliable coalitions of African American and Latino voters in the early states of South Carolina and Nevada, while scrapping for votes even in the rural states she was always likely to lose, such as West Virginia and Kentucky.
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Sanders supporters remained dubious of her intentions; a faction of them were still not on board as she formally accepted the nomination on Thursday night, jeering through many points of her speech only to be resoundingly drowned out by chants of “Hillary!” from the vast majority of the arena.

But Clinton crystallized her approach on Thursday by doubling down on the progressive platform crafted alongside Sanders.

“Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all, if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign,” she told them.

The triangulation – a staple tactic of her husband’s in the 1990s – was not in substance but in tone, due to what she dubbed as “a moment of reckoning” that could redefine America and its principles.

“Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying,” she said.

“And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us.”

America, in other words, could not afford to roll the dice on a potential Donald Trump presidency. And as on the stump, it was when laying into her opponent that Clinton truly hit her stride.

It was at a national security speech in San Diego in June that the former secretary of state received her highest accolades to date, unpacking the inherent contradictions of Trump’s foreign policy in the rare role of an attack dog albeit with flashes of humor.

Clinton continued the assault on Thursday, but not simply for the purpose of riling up her party against a figure they have come to loathe. It was once again a plea for unity, an attempt to reach for votes even in the most unexpected corners – including the moderate Republicans and independents who couldn’t stomach voting for Trump.

To them, she offered a simple olive branch: “Join us.”

“I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans and independents. For the struggling, the striving and the successful,” she said.

“For those who vote for me and those who don’t, for all Americans.”

Whether it will prove a winning message in the countdown to November remains to be seen. But Clinton is at least aware of one thing: there will always be those voters who just don’t know what to do with her.
Five takeaways from Clinton’s biggest speech yet

She exits the convention on a high with a good speech and strong support. Now the hard part begins.

Glenn Thrush
7/29/16, 7:26 AM CET

PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton wants you to vote for her.

Or, go ahead, vote against Donald Trump.

She’s not picky.

Wearing white to differentiate herself from her black-hat opponent, indifferent to the stray protest shouts rattling around the eaves of the Wells Fargo Center, Hillary Clinton defined the 2016 campaign against Donald Trump as a light-and-darkness fight between good and evil.

Here was history – Clinton was the first woman to accept the nomination of her party in the country’s history – but history buffeted in the maelstrom of the most bitter, negative and most unpredictable election in modern history. And that history took second place to Clinton’s electoral imperative of making Americans like her – or at least like her enough to cast a vote for her.

Yet the defining characteristic of Clinton’s big night was just how much of it was devoted to someone who wasn’t her, and wasn’t even in the hall – Donald Trump, whom she defined as a clownish, bullying existential threat to democracy who needed to be beaten as badly as she needed to be elected.

“A man you can bait with a Tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons,” she announced, in the punchiest laugh-cry-shiver line of the night.

Here are five takeaways from the most important speech of Hillary Clinton’s life, and maybe Trump’s.

It was a pretty good speech. But was it good enough? Trump’s acceptance speech in Cleveland last week was a post-modern mash-up that culminated with his claim that Trump, and only Trump, could save an angry, hell-bound country. Clinton’s address was, by contrast, a standard 20th Century speech, an optimistic Bill Clinton-style State of the Union address with a pointed and effective attack against Trump tacked on like a warhead.

Clinton is an erratic, oft-awkward political performer who has given a few fantastic speeches – typically at pivotal moments in her career (Beijing in 1995, the “Glass Ceiling” address at the end of the epic 2008 primary season, to name two]. But she’s given her share of lousy ones too, and the trend before the biggest speech of her life on Thursday wasn’t especially encouraging. As she’s gotten older, and more practiced at the campaign game, Clinton has become more confident in her own abilities to determine what energizes her audience. That’s not always a good thing. More often than not, however, she indulges her own preference for exhaustive specificity at the expense of inspiration.

This was one of her better efforts – a long amalgam of principle and policy, yes – but one leavened with a bit of self-deprecating humor that conceded her shortcomings as an electoral leading lady. “The truth is, through all these years of public service, the ‘service’ part has always come easier to me than the ‘public’ part,” she said.

And, as usual, she benefitted from having an effective and disciplined organization behind her — when Bernie-or-Bust haters began heckling her from several delegations, including California, her supporters had been drilled to drown them out with chants of “Hillary!”

Clinton is a hard-to-sell candidate, with baked-in negatives north of 50 percent (five to 10 points lower than Trump’s unprecedented disapproval ratings) and a personal story that is almost universally known by anyone old enough to vote for her. Yet for all the impediments, there were flashes of emotion and sincerity that have often eluded her in other settings, and flashes of I-didn’t-know-that-about-her novelty.

Most importantly, her speechwriters cleverly diverted the audience gaze from the candidate herself, defining her best attributes through the moving narratives of regular people more relatable than her, a dozen small anecdotal mirrors to catch Clinton’s reflected virtue.

Yet even in striking classic fight-for-the-little-guy Democratic themes, she had an eye on drawing the contrast with Trump, whom she portrayed as the most divisive public figure of her lifetime. “I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents … For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans,” she said.

All about the bounce. Clinton’s team accomplished many intermediate goals during their four days in Philly: The Obamas delivered a husband-and-wife tandem of historic speeches; Bernie Sanders went from being a renegade to a team player — helping to stamp out the last glowing embers of the revolution he sparked in New Hampshire; Clinton was applauded by several dozen speakers (led by her husband) who sought to reverse her negative image.

And none of that matters, not one bit, if Clinton can’t reverse Trump’s recent surge in the polls with a discernible convention bounce. She won’t get the 14-point boost her husband got in 1992, but she’ll take anything that moves the dial, that is to say roughly the recent average uptick of three or four percent.

The GOP’s Cleveland convention was, by any conventional measure, a big gooey muddle-message fondue of negativity; but Trump seems to have gotten a lift of between three and seven points. Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told me that Trump’s recent rise – to parity or a few points ahead, depending on the survey – was the result of a ho-hum convention bounce, but analysts like 538’s Nate Silver see the trend-line as an extension of a swoon that began with the FBI’s controversial decision not to press charges against Clinton over her use of a homebrew email server while secretary of state.

Either way, Clinton needs a boost as the campaign enters the serious season.

Don’t worry – but don’t be quite so happy. The Obama-Clinton alliance is wedded, by definition, to a message of tempered contentment, measured success, and a domesticated definition of “change” as liberalism on a leash.

History shows most presidencies are won on hope-and-change optimism not Trump-ian hopelessness­ and change. But history is in a particularly perverse mood this year. In vanquishing the Sanders challenge, the Clinton campaign drove the anger from the convention – but they also purged Sanders’ angry energy, his sense of urgency and discontent that reflects the country beyond a relatively satisfied party base. Obama can tout his legacy, and his approval ratings are at a second-term high – but seven in 10 Americans think the country is on the wrong track. “People are still pissed off,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told me a few hours before Clinton’s big speech.

Clinton is doubling down on hope, and when I asked one of her advisers why the speech wouldn’t contain an extended recitation of the country’s ills, the person looked at me like I’d torn a Clinton/Kaine yard sign in half. When Sanders suggested that Obama hadn’t sufficiently attacked income inequality, Clinton pivoted to accuse the Vermont senator of attacking an impeccably progressive Democratic icon. Senior Clinton strategist Joel Benenson (Obama’s longtime pollster) told me in a podcast this spring that 2016 is a base – not a swing-voter – election and most Democrats felt pretty good about the country, compared to those unhappy Republicans.

Clinton recognized the frustrations of the working class in her speech, but anger was seasoning, not the staple. “Some of you are frustrated – even furious,” Clinton intoned. “And you know what? You’re right … Democrats are the party of working people. But we haven’t done a good enough job showing that we get what you’re going through, and that we’re going to do something about it.”

‘Hillary’ the movie was as good as Hillary Live. Making Clinton likeable, restoring the trust she’s squandered in the email scandal and Wall Street speech controversy, is every bit as important a task as knee-capping Trump. Clinton (who famously demanded a “zone of privacy” around her family during her husband’s 1992 campaign) has a hard time doing that – because of her own natural reticence or the aggregated apprehension of being attacked for two decades. Her best moments are her most candid, but they have been few and far between – and seldom in the glare of a press conference or TV interview.

Introductory videos have been a staple of conventions since Ronald Reagan, but the 15-minute “Hillary,” directed by Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, was especially important because it featured an extended, relaxed and emotional interview with Clinton about her mother’s struggles, her work for children and families, and her efforts on behalf of 9/11 first responders.

An emotional highlight: The story (aimed implicitly at Trump, and repeated from the podium) of her being bullied as an elementary school student – only to have her mother tell she was a “coward” to back down.

She’s on her own now. Conventions are cosseting events, about summoning the armies, and surrounding the nominee in a protective circle. That’s never been truer than for Clinton, who exits her convention with some of the highest negatives in the history of presidential elections.

For four days she was lauded by surrogates who were, in many cases, better at making a case for her election than she was. They’ll still have her back – and Sanders is set to use his magic with youth voters on her behalf over the summer – but winning the election is now almost entirely in her hands.


Glenn Thrush

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