Sunday, June 08, 2008

Clinton's Exit Speech


Hillary, Bill, Chelsea entering the building.

The elegant lit-from-within columns of the National Building Museum flank a podium surrounded by crowds. The scene is reminiscent of the late 19th century. The place is packed.

Terry McAuliffe moves closer to the front of the stage.

Hands in the air applauding and cheers, a fusillade of cameras. We see Bill's face first, smiling; behind him is Hillary. he pauses to hug McAuliffe. Charles Schumer slaps him on the back with a smile. The camera turns to Hillary as she mounts the podium. A large cheer. Bill, Hillary's mother, Hillary, and Chelsea in a line atop the podium.

A pained joyful almost explosively joyful smile from Hillary as the crowd erupts. The sadness, actual joy at the love, deep bags beneath her eyes, there is a certain stunned quality--a dissociation almost as if it isn't real for her, even as another part of her clearly feels the reality, and trues to manifest the toughness, while deep, the catch in her voice captures--there is no other word for it--the anguish underneath.

"To the young people"...a somewhat raucuous cheer.."like Anne Riddel"..."New Yorkers...Arkansans...And all those women"-cheer- "in their 80's and 90's, born before women could vote". An anecdote about this.

Strength pushed forward before anguish.

"18 million of you from all walks of life"--a cheer.

Her voice is a manifestation of willed declaration of what has been created by her, for her, on her behalf, cut through with the depth of controlled tears.

"To help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States" adding a significant and notable depth to her voice. "I endorse him and put my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to work as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me". Mixture of cheers and sounds of upset.

First the forced smile as she begins to enumerate Obama's merits. Cheeks pulled up by sheer effort. However, then she become serious--and she means it. "Ensuring that Obama enters the Oval Office in 2009."

"The Democratic Party is a family and now its time to restore the values we cherish and the country we love..our paths have merged..united more than ever. So much is at stake. " Cut to Chelsea--smile with tears.

"We all want an economy that lifts all or our people...A health care system that is universal, high quality and affordable" -cheers -" This isn't just an issue for me; it is a passion"--and indeed it is, as she hammers it home with vigour.

Remarkably, as she did in the Senate, you can see her settling in, hardening in, to the task ahead--taking her firm determination, and in the midst of this speech, turning it to the new task--still, in the sadness and exhaustion, willing herself to a new life of purpose, as she has done before in the face of loss.

A nod to rehabilitating Bill: "The man who revitalized the US in two elections is here today."

Remarkable, as through sheer force of will against anguish and depression, she slowly pivots, letting her pose of determination turn the anguished machine to its new task.

"Today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say 'Yes we can!." This is the VP pitch.

"Together, we will live in a stronger America. That's why we need to elect Barack Obama our President."

This is a statue of strength mounted over a soul in anguish. Cuts to Chelsea, manifestly tearful, mirror that anguish.

Now the repetition theme " And that is why we must help elect Barack Obama our President".

This is full and unequivocal support--a full corrective to her primary night speech.

"Could a woman really serve as commander in chief? Well, I think we answered that one. " A second VP pitch.

"Now, on a personal note, when I was asked what it meant to be a woman running for President, I always gave the answer that I was proud to be running as a woman, but I was running because I thought I would be the best president."

"But I am a woman and I know there are biases out there, often unconscious, and I want to build an America that will embrace the ability of every last one of build that future, we must ensure that women and men alike understand the struggles of their mothers and grandmothers and that women enjoy equal pay and equal respect." The subtle reminder of electoral power--just the slightest foot on the neck of pressure regarding the electoral power of the Clinton bloc and the VP choice, while also noting the genuine and remarkable historical achievement of her run.

"To those who were disappointed that we couldn't go all the way, it would break my heart if I discouraged you in...pursuing any of do what you want to do (shouldn't she say "if I discouraged you to vote for Barack Obama? ) and never let anyone say that you can't or shouldn't go on." The slightest eruption of the earlier indulgences--a muted message with just the slightest subtle echoes of "if my website".

"If we can blast 50 women into space, we will someday launch a woman into the White House." In continuing this theme for quite so long, again, now she has lost the balance a bit and is leaning a bit towards primary night and the focus on her, whipping the crowd up not about unity and the fight ahead, but about what has been denied.

But--as, in the end, is her strength and her way, her burden to bear in this life--in the anguish of the moment, she wills herself to bring it around: "If you find yourself or our supporters saying "If only"...don't go there. Time is too short. And that is why I will work for Barack Obama as our next President, and that is why I hope that everyone of you will join me in that effort."

"To my family, Bill and Chelsea, you mean the world to me" --a cut to Bill looking bitter, angry as he has risen, sits back down. Looking to get even?

She is making the turn:

"As we join forces with Obama's campaign, we will stand united for the values we hold dear...and the country we love. There is nothing more American than that."

"The challenges that I have faced in this campaign are nothing compared to those tghat millions of Americans have in their lives."

"I will work to ensure that every child lives to grow up to his or her god-given potential...this is now our time to make sure that in this election we add another Democratic President and to take back our country."

"God bless you and God Bless America"

Waving with a smile..fighting back tears for a second.

Summary: A strong speech. From the beginning of her career--from the Gennifer Flowers episodes, through Monicagate, and the need to fight off its legacy during her Senate run, she has always been able to make the turn under adversity. It has been her role--indeed, her role in her home, finding strength and purpose under the pressure of often negative and hostile judgment and rising to a willed purpose, beneath which the suffering is controlled, until that purpose takes over and becomes the foreground, the reality, the new task. Despite the slight tactical engagements and subtle warnings of her electoral power in the last third, a muted indulgence compared to primary night, she gave the speech she needed to--for herself, for the Party, and for history.

Unity gained. Mission accomplished.