Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More on Hillary and Barack

Okay, so Barack Obama all but won the nomination last night.

And he gave a victory speech. And Hillary Clinton? She gave a speech.

And, well, I have a few things to say about that.

First, here are YouTube links to the actual speeches:
Clinton's Speech and Obama's Speech

Having become a bit of a political junkie during this primary season, I watched both of the speeches live. I only have a few things to say about Obama's speech. It was a great speech, but aside from its historic nature, it was rather unremarkable compared to his other speeches. One item of interest that I did find was that he made a point of saying explicitly and almost repetitively what change he wanted to see in this country. It was no doubt in part an attempt to dissuade people who say he talks a lot about change, but doesn't talk about that change he wants. I'll quote part of his speech:

"It’s time to refocus our efforts on Al Qaida’s leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That’s what change is.
Change, Minnesota, is realizing that meeting today’s threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy: tough, direct diplomacy, where the president of the United States isn’t afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for.
We must once again have the courage and the conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt and Truman and Kennedy. That’s what the American people demand. That’s what change is.
Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and the workers who created it. It’s understanding that the struggles facing working families can’t be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a middle-class tax break to those who need it, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation.
It’s understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was president."

Contrary to popular belief, he has elaborated on each of these points in detail; that's just not the part that the media ever plays. But now when people tell me he wants change and won't say what change he wants, I know what bit of text to point them to.

Now on to Hillary's speech. I have a can-opener in one hand and a can of worms in the other. Time to put them in a blender.

I had a feeling that she wouldn't concede last night, but I was rather amazed that she didn't even go so far as to acknowledge that Obama had a majority of the delegates. The closest she came was this:

"I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run."

That's it. That's as far as she'll go on the night that Obama makes history by becoming the Democratic nominee. Oh, but there's more. Not only did the speech not concede a smidgen to Obama, but she went on and on about her accomplishments and how she would make the best president. This wasn't a concession speech; this was another campaign speech! My favorite part is this:

"...In the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest…
Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?
People in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard. And on election day after election day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly 18 million of you cast your votes for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history.
Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting. You’re the nurse on the second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran, the student, the hard-working men and women who don’t always make the headlines, but have always written America’s story.
You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House. And because of you we won, together, the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes."

Holy cow, where do I even start? Okay, easiest item first. She once again claims that she won the popular vote. What she doesn't say is that she doesn't count three of the caucus states that Obama won and one that is disputed (those states don't release official vote totals, so the popular vote must be estimated, which Clinton conveniently doesn't). Also, she only counts votes for herself in Michigan, where the undisputed fact is that swarms of people intended to vote for Obama, and had to vote for Uncommitted because his name wasn't on the ballot. By intent, and by any estimation other than those of the Clinton campaign and her most staunch supporters, Obama won the popular vote.

It amazes me how Clinton gos on and on about counting every vote, then she herself goes out of the way to not count four whole states worth of votes. Yeah, that's really gracious of her.

Secondly, there is a key difference between the way that these two candidates speak to the American people that I have been meaning to talk about for a long time. Let me provide an example by means of two snippets of the candidates' speeches last night that basically say the same thing:

Clinton: "Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq."

Obama: "We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in, but we — but start leaving we must."

See the difference there? Okay, maybe that's not the most fair of comparisons; his stance on Iraq has always been one of Obama's strengths. Let me take another example, based on foreign policy, seen as one of his weaknesses:

Clinton: "And I want to restore America’s leadership in the world. I want us to be led once again by the power of our values, to have a foreign policy that is both strong and smart, to join with our allies and confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to global terrorism and global warming."

Obama: "Change, Minnesota, is realizing that meeting today’s threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy: tough, direct diplomacy, where the president of the United States isn’t afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for."

You may have spotted what I'm getting at by now; I'm concerned about the tone that both of these candidates take toward the American people. With Clinton, it is always I want to do this and My positions will lead us forward and get out and vote for Me Obama's speeches take a much different tone; We can do these things and we can make Our country better and let us get together and do these things. Obama seems (and has always seemed) to base his positions on the fact that no one person can do it alone; we have to work together to make things better. The government is about the people, not about the leader; that's a central founding principle of this country. The candidates speeches last night were almost the same length. Clinton's was about 2200 words and Obama's about 2500. So I counted:

WordUses in Clinton's SpeechUses in Obama's Speech

Compare that to the more inclusive forms of these words:

WordUses in Clinton's SpeechUses in Obama's Speech

As you can see, the difference is stark. Personally, I vastly prefer a candidate who would have inclusiveness so embedded in his message and his personality that it has significant influence on the pronouns that he uses. How about you?

My third point concerns Clinton's motives. Why is it that she would so harshly try to put the rest the notion that the race is over? Why risk prolonging this and potentially damaging Obama's chances in the fall? Why work her supporters into a disgruntled frenzy when the primary race is essentially over? I can think of a few reasons, and I don't like any of them very much.

Motive 1: She needs some space to breathe and a little time to make up her mind. I highly doubt this; she's clearly proven herself to be a strong and decisive woman. I have little doubt that she knows exactly where she is headed next. Besides, this wouldn't have precluded her from admitting that Obama has the delegates he needs.

Motive 2: She is trying to use her concession as leverage to get onto the ticket as Obama's vice-presidential candidate. This is the option I like the least. This means that she is willing to put Obama into a very, very difficult decision. Either he rejects her, and angers all of the disgruntled supporters that she has succeeded in working to a frenzy, or he picks her, and is seriously weakened due to the appearance that he was forced into his vice-presidential choice. Either way, it causes substantial damage to his fall campaign. If this is her true motive, she is far more deceitful than I would have imagined her to be. If she had graciously conceded last night, and then threw her name in as a potential vice-presidential pick, I would have been among the first to support that possibility, but not this. Not this.

Motive 3: She is trying to use her concession as leverage to get Obama to help her pay her significant campaign debts. I seriously hope this is the true motive. I would be just fine with that considering the alternatives. The way Obama campaigns, he can make the money back in nary a week.

Motive 4: She really does want to appeal the Rules and Bylaws Committee's decision and take the fight to August. She is very unlikely to win if this is the case, so she would be damaging Obama's campaign far more significantly than Motive 2. If she does this, well, she knows where she can stuff it.

And, well, that's about all I have to say, so I'll stop writing now. My wrists are tired.

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35


Joe Erjavec said...

Hello, and you have a good analysis of the two speeches.

Joe Space Tourist said...

Thank you!