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“Stronger Together”? What I heard in Clinton’s speech

“Stronger Together”? What I heard in Clinton’s speech July 29, 2016

Side note:  I go back and forth between writing “Hillary” and writing “Clinton.”  In general, it’s appropriate to refer to men and women in the public sphere consistently, and using “Hillary” would ordinarily be a bit insulting, but for the fact that he herself, and her campaign, emphasize it.

So anyway:  I watched Clinton’s speech, or much of it anyway, and I’m going to give you my reaction as a “first thing in the morning” commentary, before reading the text itself or the multitude of opinion pieces, but solely by memory, and via a few tweets.

Truthfully I got bored at points, as there wasn’t any driving narrative but just a repetition of everything we’ve all heard before, with a big dose of “I’m so happy to have made history by being a woman and standing at this podium.”

But among her messages was the claim that she was reaching out to Republicans, yet without anything to offer except, I suppose, a “vote for me, because your own party’s nominee isn’t fit to be president.”  There was no call for finding ways of moving forward that we can all agree on, no attempt to triangulate.

Donald Trump, she said, claims he’ll fix everything all by himself, but she knows we all have to work together.  Donald Trump, she said, has no policies or plans on how to achieve his claimed objectives.  She, in contrast, has plans:  her plan is to create lots and lots of new, high-paying jobs, and grow wages for everyone.  That’s her plan about jobs.  This is also her plan on immigration — or, that is, the contrast she drew to Trump’s wall, which I guess means, “we’ll make America so prosperous that we can have unlimited immigration without anyone feeling any pain.”

On the other hand, things were a bit circular, because other plan “specifics” were to grow the economy by providing a “pathway to citizenship” (because immigrants benefit the economy) as well as to “create clean-energy jobs” and, of course, hike the minimum wage so that it provides a “living wage” on which to raise children.  Plus, she said (roughly), “my primary mission is to create good jobs, and our economy isn’t working because our democracy isn’t working, so I will appoint Supreme Court justices who will repeal Citizens United.”

She also repeated her promise of no college tuition for the middle class, and “debt free” university education for all.  What’s the difference?  I guess it’s a matter of the Expected Family Contribution, and saying that if your parents did their part (regardless of how realistic the Family Contribution requirement, or whether the family is willing to pay), you shouldn’t have debt.

And, of course, she made sure to include such items as Social Security expansion, and announced her support for Equal Pay for Women, and unlimited opportunities for girls, as if it was a courageous position rather than an object of universal agreement.

And she reminded the audience of her plan to fund everything with higher taxes on “Wall Street, Corporations, and the Super Rich.”

Oh, and the main branding of the campaign, “Stronger Together”?  It goes like this:  “Donald Trump wants to divide everyone, but I want to unite everyone.”  Does it connect with true swing voters, as opposed to her supporters?  I don’t know.  There was also a bit about “healing divides” on guns, race, immigration, etc. by, for instance, “putting ourselves in the shoes of young black and Hispanic men who face systemic racism” and reforming the criminal justice system — but this section seemed like an already-drafted set of lines about social justice got an overlay in the “healing divide” template.

And can I say that people whose “minority” status is that of “sexual minority” – gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and others – got the short end of the stick when their label is a series of letters to be listed.  “LGBT” (or LGBTQQIA or however many other letters you wish to add) is clumsy enough when written, but sounds really grating when it’s a part of a speech, “L, G, B, T Americans.”

One positive note, comparatively, is that however much she has announced that she plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment, so as to enable the federal government to fund abortions, she at least glossed over that with some generic “reproductive health” verbiage in the speech.

Fundamentally, Clinton can’t triangulate, and the reason why was plain to see in her speech, where she was periodically interrupted by chants of “Hill-a-ry” which were themselves the predetermined method of shouting down the Bernie supporters who periodically tried to disrupt the speech.  Perhaps she doesn’t even want to, figuring that there’s no way moderates will vote for Trump so she’ll win their votes regardless of her policy positions, and her policy positions are long-held.

. . . . .

OK, so now I had a few more minutes and pulled up the transcript.  One line I had forgotten about, or hadn’t noticed  when it was uttered, was this:

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.

So her big claim to bipartisanship is, I guess, a massive “stimulus” bill even absent a recession.  Exactly what she means by “investment in new, good-paying jobs” isn’t clear to me if only one of her categories is infrastructure, unless this is just a massive level of subsidies for employers in these categories (while simultaneously raising taxes on corporations that aren’t lucky enough to qualify, I guess).

Which means, in the end:

look, it was a fine speech. Is it going to go down in the annals of history as inspirational?  No, but I don’t care about inspirational speeches.  Is there any sign that her policy positions have moderated?  No.

And that’s that.  The conventions are both over.  And I have to take the kids to sailing camp, and then start work.


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