Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary Has Found her Voice

And so have I….

In her New Hampshire victory speech, Hillary Clinton said,
I come tonight with a very, very full heart. I listened to you and in the process, I found my own voice....I felt like we all spoke from our hearts...
Well so have I -- I have found my voice.

Tim Rutten reminded me when he wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times,

Obama's, obviously, was the stunning victory speech after Thursday's Iowa caucuses; he's been riding a wave of enthusiasm ever since. Even the sort of seasoned political analysts inclined to cynicism recognized that the junior senator from Illinois had delivered the sort of soul-stirring, landscape-altering address that deserves to be reckoned in a rhetorical lineage that includes, most recently, memorable public speeches by John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan.


There were, in fact, two things about Obama's speech that remain as remarkable as the campaign heads toward Tsunami Tuesday on Feb. 5 as they were in the moment of delivery. The first is that it was, at bottom, a discussion of race in which race never was mentioned. The second is that both red and blue America seem to have heard the same thing -- something worth noting in this bitterly partisan era. Thus, even a reflexively Republican commentator such as Bill Bennett praised the speech for appealing "to the better angels of our nature."

Race is America's perennially unfinished business, but what Obama did in Iowa was to offer a new way of talking about it, and it is that -- more than any policy he yet has advanced -- that marked him as a candidate of change. Race remains the great American problem, but it's a problem whose contours have been dramatically reshaped in recent years.


America is no longer a country of the dream deferred but of the dream realized in unexpected, but perplexingly uneven, ways. Obama, the 46-year-old product of both Harvard Law and community organizing in the Chicago projects, speaks in a new emotional vocabulary that recognizes both achievement and need. It's a language he has in common with younger voters, who thus far are turning out in huge numbers.

Senator Clinton's voice is not my own.

I prefer the voice of that other Senator: the one who fires me up and gets me ready to go!

12 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Vigilante said...

This post helps me crystallize and resolve some conflicts which I have not expressed before now.

Of all of the multiple offenses the Bush – Cheney evil axis has perpetrated upon Americans’ history, constitution, psyche and international self-esteem, none of them approach the travesty of starting an unnecessary, unprovoked, bloody, and costly war.

For that reason alone, by rights, Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel should have earned my infinite loyalty and finite contributions. If elected, Kucinich promises to waste no time in laying waste to Busheney’s legacy of retaining the Iraqi base camp as a vanguard against Iran. Repudiation of their warfare state would be swift and clear and the next best thing to impeachment.

I owe Senator Obama his ‘props’ for his inspired dissent against the Invasion of Iraq in Sept ’02. However, since then he hasn’t been nearly as defiant in Congress as Kucinich has on occupation-funding votes. But that’s just a caveat.

Still, the candidacy of Barack Obama is unique. He, alone, offers me an alternative to looking back in anger (eight years of Bush). Going forward, he offers us Americans an opportunity to traverse the crevasse of race in our history. Electing even an hybrid-Afro-American President for four or eight years does not annul, erase, reverse or atone for all of the racial injustices past and present in my country’s political life. Far from it. But it would change America, and for the better, and for its own good.

I say this because, deep in my heart, Barack Obama strikes me as totally qualified for national leadership. In fact – it scares me to admit this – he may be over-qualified. (Bill Clinton was over-qualified.) That’s the way it has always had to be in this country when it comes to race: the first in any field has always had to be over-qualified.

If Senator Obama is not chosen by the American people this time, in this year, it will be a long time – maybe – before we will encounter another such opportunity. In 2000 we missed Al Gore. In 2008, let us not turn away Barack Obama.

Carpe diem, America.

1/10/2008 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

Rutten mentions,

“memorable public speeches by John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan.”

Each one of these oratory maestros was struck down by an assassin’s bullet.

What does this say about how the USA treats its most gifted leaders?

1/10/2008 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I forgot to respond to Emily’s theme of voices. It reminds me of my conscious voting patterns, at least for the last two decades. The candidate I always vote for has to pass the 6:00 o’clock news test:

Which candidate has the voice which I will be able to tolerate on the nightly news hour, five days a week, for the next four years?

Barack Obama, indeed, represents change.

1/10/2008 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

When Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman can say during a recent broadcast that one way younger players could beat Tiger Woods would be to
"lynch him in a back alley",
it's clear that our society badly needs to be nudged from where it is to some new place on a more elevated level.

1/10/2008 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...

Without delving too far into the Byzantine depths of my relationship with Dragonwife we are currently feuding over who is the best candidate is for the Democrats. She wants Hillary for what SHE can do for the country. The years of experience argument. But in Obama I see a leader that can get the American people to do things for the country and themselves. I may be playing on Vigil's words but to me Hillary is looking backward to a more stable but highly polarized time that ended up spawning Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Frist, and Rove. Could my support of Obama backfire if he gets in office? Yes, events could overwhelm him or even the Iron Bitch as I have come to call Hillary. But given what she and Bill ended up symbolizing I'll take that chance.

1/11/2008 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Excellent 'plaidoiie' Vigil or should I say, 'What a voice!'(No sarcasm intended at all).

Just a note: I accept that Obama's candidacy is unique but I personally don't believe that race should be the main criterium for believing that it would 'change America for the better.'

1/11/2008 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Correction: "plaidoirie" (speech, plea, appeal)...

1/11/2008 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Who Won in New Hampshire? Obedwards!

Paul Loeb says:

Obama and Edwards won the New Hampshire primary. Add together Obama's 36 percent and Edwards's 17, and they beat Clinton's 39 percent by 14 points ... those backing Obama or Edwards solidly pick the other as their second choice. So if only one were running, they'd be opening up an unambiguous lead ... John Edwards wasn't just being rhetorical when he said that both he and Obama represent voices for change, versus Clinton's embodiment of a Washington status quo joining money and power ... a solid majority of Democrats in both New Hampshire and Iowa rejected a candidate who a short while back was proclaiming her nomination as nearly inevitable . . .

1/11/2008 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Vigilante, Obama wouldn't be the first black American president. We've seen a few. And so have you!

1/11/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Boris said...

Memo to Hillblogger:

I promise not to vote my race as long as you don't vote your gender.

Personally, I go with John Edwards:

"If you're not voting for Barack because he's Black, and you're not voting for Hillary because she's a woman, don't vote for me."

1/12/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Yellow Dog said...

Taylor Marsh is saying the playing field is tipped in Obama's favor. Valarie Plame Wilson is quoted:

But I was struck by a piece in the New York Times the other day, an op-ed piece by Gloria Steinem, who noted that if a woman presumed to enter the presidential race with two years of high level experience she would be laughed out of the room ... It's a very interesting dynamic and I think we, at least on the Democratic side, how fortunate we are to have at least two extremely viable candidates, I think she's the better one, but I think we have an embarrassment of riches, versus the Republican side which is just an embarrassment ...

1/13/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Two 'money paras' from Rosa Brooks:
Sex, race and Gen Y voters:
Why younger citizens don't share the media's obsession over the electability of a woman or an African American.

... increasingly, there's evidence that younger Americans just don't think about race in the same simplistic ways. They're more likely than older Americans to be minorities themselves, for one thing. In 2006, only 19.8% of Americans over 60 were minorities, compared with about 40% of Americans under the age of 40. And younger minorities come from a far wider range of racial and ethnic backgrounds than their older counterparts.


For younger voters, "Do you think a woman or a black man could be a good president?" is the wrong question. As women and men increasingly work side by side and share power, as the U.S. becomes a more complex, multiracial and multiethnic nation, younger voters may increasingly be asking themselves a very different question: Can a middle-aged white guy possibly be qualified to lead us into the future?

1/13/2008 01:33:00 PM  

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