I'm sitting here, still in awe of Hillary's speech and of the woman herself.
Her speech was a work of brilliance. I'm waiting to see the transcript and go over it in detail. It was, first and foremost, a speech about politics. It had plenty of "human interest" and even humor in it. We most certainly got a look into the mind and heart of this woman. But what it was, from the first line to the last, was a full-force evocation of what it means to be a Democrat. In a season wehere we have been bombarded by bipartisan, everybody let's hug, don't say anything bad about the Republicans, don't be partisan be Obamacan, Unity Ponies for everyone balderdash, Hillary took the party by the scruff of its dithering neck and made it look at the reason we are a party in the first place.
The invocations of all of her identities became the warp into which she wove the woof of policy, belief, and acts, creating a mantle - Democrat. I am a Democrat for these reasons - these reasons are why I must call myself a Democrat. She was unapologetically partisan in every sentence. She explained, with the examples from her campaign, why she is driven to serve. She gave notice that for her this is a duty and that the hatred heaped upon her has no effect. I was reminded of her words in the blogger conference call - I am impervious to them.
Evidently Chris Matthews said that there was no evidence of defeat in this speech. Why would there be? It is entirely a media narrative, helped along mightily by the pool boys of the fauxgressive blogosphere, that they were "finally rid of the Clintons." They wanted suffering, shame, penance, begging for forgiveness and Hillary just handed them a steaming super-sized mug of shut the fuck up. As she was never a media darling, they cannot touch her - she is impervious. She walked off that stage the most powerful person in the Deomcratic Party, owning nothing to any of the power brokers because she has given it all to the Party. That is her duty, there lie her obligations, and that is what she is here to defend.
In the hall, it was interesting to look at the signs. The bright white signs with her signature in deep blue were like lights across the dark background of the audience. At some point, people held up tall vertical signs: Hillary, Obama, Unity. The imbalance in the representations struck me at once. Her first name and the familiarity and comfort that evoked. His last name, easy to chant, traditional political presentation. But the names were not brought together. You had to look at another sign to be given a command (a plea?) - Unity. For that to have been so, the names would have to have shared the same space, a unity not demanded but enacted.
Hillary presented the case for unity, answering the question "Unity for the sake of what?" (and even answering Lambert's plaint "And we get...?") through her enactment of Democratic principles. There was no ire, no resentment, not even the whisper of hurt. Politics is rough, but failure to fulfill your political duty (to the veteran, to the cancer patient, to the impoverished mother), is unforgiveable. Not hope. Not change. Duty. She gave Bill the recognition for his duty that their political opponents meanly withhold. She offered the arguments for why the success of the party was paramount, and in the doing ripped away the prevarications and self-deception thrown out for why unity with her wasn't possible. She explicitly invoked Bill Gwatney's pursuit of a Democratic and more just South, crushing the anti-Bubba bigotry with the straightforward truth that the only way to end the ugly legacy of the South is to transform it.
Many people have talked about Obama as a "transcendent" candidate, someone who is "post-partisan," "post-racial," calls us to something higher, and so forth. What Hillary did on that stage tonight was demonstrate what true political transcendence looks like. Surrounded by heart-broken supporters, hateful detractors, an unflaggingly hostile media, and looking at the faces of her colleagues who have treated her in the most despicable way possible for months on end, she spoke passionately and without rancor to all of them. Her personal grace and decency were rivaled only by her political integrity and loyalty. She has transcended the brutality and cruelty visited upon her in this primary. The political ground that lies within her reach has been swept clean of any barriers, impediments or stumbling blocks.
There is nothing left for her to do for anyone. Hillary is exactly what she showed on the stage tonight - the most dedicated Democrat in the party - and it is now up to the rest to live up to her example, or fail and fall. She has laid the ultimate political trap precisely by refusing to do so.
This is, I think, what keeps flummoxing the people who want to do her damage. Hillary is a hellacious campaigner and is not above delivering some pretty sharp puches, as she did to the hapless John McCain and pretty much all the rest of the goons and fools in the Republican Party, but she is not out to destroy anyone. (Big Dog is a different matter, and I am now very curious to see how his speech will differ from Hillary's) When her response to the months of backstabbing, intrigue, smearing, and general paranoid petulance of the Obama campaign is to flash her million watt smile and say she's ready to win the White Hosue for the Democrats regardless of the candidate and do so with utter conviction and sincerity, there's really nothing they can do without looking exactly as corrupt and moronic as they are. She owes them nothing after this speech, though she will give them anything that a Democrat deserves.
Obama wanted to be the Democratic nominee in the worst way possible. He got his wish. Tonight, Hillary showed him the only way out of his predicament.
It is now all on Obama's head to show he is half the Democrat she is.