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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Morning After: Mixed Reactions About Hillary Clinton's Speech

(Hillary Clinton takes the stage to give a speech on the second night of the Democratic National Convention- Photo by talkradionews)

Hillary Clinton was the last speaker at the Democratic Convention last night and gave a speech aimed at her supporters, specifically the supporters that were not satisfied with Barack Obama. Reactions to Clinton's speech were mixed.
The transcript of Hillary Clinton's speech can be found at the New York Times here and after watching the speech, reading the transcript and looking through media reactions, blogger reactions and forums discussing the speech, a variety of opinions and feedback is seen.

Areas of agreement.

From the multiple Clinton supporting sites and Obama supporting sites, there are areas of agreement regarding Clinton's speech.

Taking the stage in her orange pantsuit, after a touching video tribute to her childhood, her career and her primary campaign, looking perfectly made up, she spoke over the loud applause and began to make the case of why her supporters needed to vote for Barack Obama in the November general election.

It is generally agreed Hillary did what needed to be done, she did it eloquently, clearly and concisely while making the case that if she was not the candidate of choice for the democratic party, then Democratic supporters should naturally gravitate toward Obama who stands close to her positions on a variety of issues.

It is also generally agreed the primary focus of Hillary's speech was geared toward her supporters, her voters as she reminded people at her speaking engagements throughout yesterday, her 18 million voters.

This may be the reason why the reactions from Obama supporters and the reactions from Clinton supporters vary so widely.

(Hillary Clinton on stage at the 2008 Democratic Convention)

Areas of disagreement.

The reactions compiled in this section are from liberal bloggers, pundits and Democratic supporters because as Gallup shows, only 7 percent of of conservative voters will vote for the Democratic candidate, so the conservative pundits opinions are moot and they were not the audience Clinton's speech was geared towards.

The first reaction I looked for was from Taylor Marsh, who was generally known throughout the primaries and the "hub of anything Hillary". Marsh started backing Barack Obama the day after Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign and has put her full support into helping to get Obama elected, never fearing to criticize some of his decisions, but always making it clear that she was behind him as firmly as she was behind Clinton before she suspended her campaign.

Marsh called Hillary's speech a show stopper, via Huffington Post, and firmly believes she brought the party together last night with her heartfelt speech. Then she dares anyone to step forward and criticize anything Hillary did or did not say.

So, let every commentator, writer and blogger who finds a crevice in which to slither forth and spew a doubting word on what Hillary said and meant, or should have done, last night finally be called by their proper name: sorcerers. Spiteful vipers who dare to find a toxic blend amidst an open heart and full throated generosity at a time when our country needed just a leader like Hillary to make a new path where the last footsteps have been taken down a road that has ended in the dirt.

Marsh has a few takers in the comment section as well as those that agree with her.

A quick trip to an Obama supporting site also finds a taker to Marsh's challenge.

The Anonymous Liberal describes himself as a liberal as the name indicates, and a litigator at a large national law firm. According to him, Clinton was under no obligation to say more than she did but he points out what he calls "glaring omissions" in what he calls his convention observations.

Look, I'm not one of those people who thinks Hillary is under some deep moral obligation to say all the right things or that the fate of the Democratic party depended on her delivering a truly great speech tonight, but it's pretty clear to me that she did neither of those things. Substantively, she gave basically the same speech she gave when she dropped out of the race in June. She made clear that issues matter and that if you believe in what she believes in, you should vote for the Democratic nominee. That's fine. Really. But she clearly could have done a lot more. For starters, the speech was completely and utterly devoid of praise for Barack Obama. At no point during the speech did she compliment him in any way. At no point did she vouch for his character. At no point did she say he was qualified to be president or ready to lead. Those are some pretty glaring omissions, ones that the McCain campaign quickly picked up on. She also could have done a lot more in attacking McCain. Yes, she included a few snarky lines at the end, but she didn't draw much blood nor did she really seem to try. Again, that's fine, but let's not pretend she did everything she could have.

A.L. also received criticism for his opinion.

(Democrats attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver show their support for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)-by talkradionews)

The two examples listed above is representative of what can be found throughout the blogosphere from Obama and Clinton supporters as well as in comment sections.

The beat goes on with the tensions between the Obama supporters and Clinton supporters threatening to overwhelm Clinton's attempt to bring forth party unity.

The Media.

Finally we get to the media reporting on the mixed reactions to Hillary Clinton's speech as well as their own conflicts about the topic.

As the Gallup report linked above showed, conservative Democrats are peeling away from Obama, many of which are part of the supporters aligned with Hilary Clinton and to whom Clinton's speech was aimed at.

The Washington Post reports mixed reactions and shows examples of Clinton supporters that will vote for Barack Obama, supporters that will not vote for Barack Obama, and those that are indifferent.

For example, JoAnn Enos, from Minnesota, took Clinton's endorsement for Barack Obama at face value and says she will move on and get behind Obama, saying, "I'll vote for [Obama] in the roll call, because that's what Hillary wants."

Another Clinton supporter, John Burkett from Pennsylvania, joins JoAnn and puts an Obama button on saying he will vote for Obama during the roll call vote tonight.

Terie Norelli says Clinton's speech made her want to work to get Obama elected.

Those reactions are countered in the same article by Blanche Darley from Texas, who says, ""I'm not going to vote for Obama. I'm not going to vote for McCain, either." Darley wore a button that said "Obamination Scares the Hell Out of Me."

Darley was a superdelegate for Bill Clinton in the 1990's and she concludes by saying, "We love her, but it's our vote if we don't trust him or don't like him."

(Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) gives a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO (08-26-08).- by talkradionews)

Another example of those Clinton's speech did not change the mind of is Adita Blanco from Oklahoma, a lifelong Democrat that has never voted for a Republican who states, "I hate Obama so much that I'm going to devote as much time to McCain as I did to Hillary. Obama has nothing. He has no experience. The Democratic Party doesn't care about us. You couldn't treat [Clinton] any worse."

Then there is Jerry Straughan from California who believes Clinton's speech was a "tactic" and "predictable" and he states, "Who knows what she really thinks? With all the missteps that have taken place, this is the only thing she could do. So, yes, I'm still bitter."

Other examples show people that say they are Democrats, first and foremost, but are having a difficult time getting over the bitter primaries, what they perceived as biased news coverage and their anger at the Democratic party.

Perhaps the best example of the persistent divide in the Democratic Party came after Clinton's speech Tuesday night. The lights went down in the Pepsi Center, and some influential Democrats left downtown for good. They planned to head for the airport and fly home, long before Obama accepts the nomination in a speech at Invesco Field on Thursday night.

These reactions are also representative of what is being seen across the web today, as people detail each facet of Clinton's speech, Clinton supporters pointing to the message of unity whether they are going to accommodate Clinton's wishes or not and Obama supporters insisting that Hillary did not do "enough".

Democratic Convention Watch Day Three.

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, describes the mood or "vibe" as she calls it, at the convention and she says there is "High Anxiety In The Mile High City."

Dowd says there are "bitter Clinton associates, fund-raisers and supporters wandering the halls, spewing vindictiveness, complaining of slights, scheming about Hillary’s roll call and plotting trouble, with some in the Clinton coterie dissing Obama by planning early departures, before the nominee even speaks."

She claims that what some supporters came away with after the Clinton speech was the feeling that the speech had only reinforced their feelings that Clinton would have made a better president than Obama would make, some saying Obama had two months to prove himself.

At a meeting of the Democratic women’s caucus Tuesday, 74-year-old Carol Anderson of Vancouver, Wash., a former Hillary volunteer, stood in the back of the room in a Hillary T-shirt and hat signed by Hillary and “Nobama” button and booed every time any of the women speakers mentioned Obama’s name.

She’s voting for McCain and had nothing nice to say about the Obamas. What about the kids, I asked. “Adorable,” she agreed. Well, I said, Michelle raised them.

“I think her mother does,” Anderson shot back, adding: “I wonder if Michelle would give the Queen one of her little knuckle punches?”

Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton speaks tonight and stories about his speech, his demeanor and his conflicting public messages, dominate much of the news cycle today.

Yesterday many thought he made some inappropriate implications at one public appearance, perhaps suggesting that Obama could not deliver on the promises he has made throughout the campaign season.

Today we see, via The Swamp, that he will make the case that this election is not about a "politician" and that Hillary "made the case" as to why Democrats must vote for Obama and he makes his point by saying, "You really don't have any choice. There is not an option here. ... Don't forget -- out there in this country the American people are aching and they are looking to us to shell down the corn and deliver the goods and the only way we can do it is if we do it together."

The conflicting public message Bill seems to be sending there comes from another report, by CNN's Political Ticker, which alleges that a source has told them that while Hillary Clinton will be attending Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco field, Bill Clinton plans to leave and not attend, which some are considering a snub.


Hillary Clinton did what was required of her in last night's speech. To have insisted publicly that Barack Obama was ready, or experienced enough to be the president of the United States, would have angered her supporters since she previously pointed out the legitimate reasons he was not ready.

No one can point to this speech and say she did not try to promote party unity, and her supporters also did not get lied by her attempting to claim Obama was something that he is not.

She did right by the party and she refused to lie to her supporters and for that she deserves kudos.