Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Duty, Unity and Transcendence

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.



pm317 said...

What a missed opportunity (for us) and will we get a second chance?

We have to throw out the bad apples starting with Obama in November.

{Thank you! I was waiting for your comments}

Anonymous said...

What I really loved about Senator Clinton's speech was the way she just spelled out the reasons for being a Democrat. Since Senator Obama didn't want to define the reasons for voting for a Democrat instead of a Republican she did it for him. Everyone on the convention floor was nodding in unison as she layed out what should be the Democratic Pary Platform. Did you hear the cheer that went up when she mentioned Gay Rights? Woe is Senator Obama if he doesn't support these issues. Good for her.

carlyinnj said...

Beautifully said....Hillary transcended all that was done to her and she shown like a million watt LIGHT!!!
As Hillary inspired us to do; we will go on no matter what. The people that she brought together are still united and change is on the way but I don't think it is the kind of change Obama has in mind.
It will be the profound change that Hillary has unfolded..the Path is made clear!

lori said...


I don't know if you caught this, but Clinton used the title of a Riverdaughter/Goldberry Daily Kos diary from
November of last year - The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pantsuit. She reached out to us. :)

Certain dramaturges to whom I am married think it was a latter day St. Crispin's Day speech.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

As I see it, the Obama campaign is gambling that the "Urban Archipelago" has finally grown so large that its inhabitants can elect a president all by themselves.

We'll know the answer in ten weeks.

Peregrine said...

Very nice analysis, Anglachel. George Stephanopolis said last night, "Obama can learn a lot from Hillary," which is such an understatement.

Our country would be so much richer with Hillary as president. But we so fortunate to have her working for us.

FYI, http://medusa2.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/its-not-about-hillary-anymore/

avidreader said...

I agree with everything each of you said, and, additionally, I heard her explaining to Obama what his duties and responsibilities as POTUS would be, a lesson in what a President is supposed to be and do.
What she would do if elected and a challenge to him to do as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm STILL crying and watching her speech and tribute over and over again. It's just unfair. This woman NEEDS to be our president right now.

Anne said...

She is taking the party away from them and there's nothing she nor they can do about it ....Biden was a huge mistake for Barry.He should have put aside his pride and asked Hill to be his VP.Of course that would never happen.

But The backers of Barry and then the backers of Biden for Barry, will discover that picking a nothing you feel you can control is a double edged sword.

It's Hillary's time. They can steal a nomination from her, but they can't change who and what she has become. Leadership like this is not gained by backroom deals and pay offs , it's earned. No amount of genuflections or football half time show speeches can get you there....as Barry will find out.

There is some speculations on the web that after Hillary's speech, Michelle
Obmama asked Joe Biden if it was good?? God help them and us and thank God for Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Anonymous said...

"Big Dawg" is no different, why do you think they have such a strong and authentic marriage. Hillary and Bill have graced us with the example of duty, compassion, action and commitment, as a couple and as Democratic leaders. Bill resentment about being maligned as a racist and undercut for his enormous contributions is correct and righteous. Obama has not done his duty to reach out to a great former Democratic President.

Unknown said...

Brilliant commentary that must continue throughout the events to come. No matter what, we have all found a voice of our own that is shaped by adversity and will be the shape of things to come. I am proud of all of us, the better part of disappointment.

daily democrat said...

Thanks to C-Span’s www broadcast, I was able to hear Hillary’s speech live in my London, UK studio very early this morning. What a gift we are given, to be able to attend the US Democratic Party’s convention in person, even in our physical absence! We can attend whether or not we live in the United States, whether or not we are US Citizens or Democratic Party members. We can see and hear Hillary’s speech “live” anywhere in the world where there is a computer with C-Span access.

To awaken this morning to the further gift of your brilliant commentary, Anglachel, only increases my impression that Hillary’s speech last night has conveyed us, kicking and screaming, like a healthy newborn, into the new and strange world that will now be our home.

The world we leave behind is the world we’ve been living in since politics met television on September 26, 1960, the day that Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy held their first televised presidential campaign debate. That debate created the possibility of a kind of media-based politics that could bypass local and regional concerns and unite people within national borders. This was a politics in which political events, television, and newspapers became almost synonymous. Across the United States, TV’s limited number of national networks and local channel affiliates, and the corresponding limited number of national and local newspapers allowed people to experience things together, each in their own living room.

But last night, Tuesday, August 26, 2008, almost exactly 48 years after its official birthday, the media-politics that grew up and ripened through the 60’s and 70’s, and gradually decayed through the many changes of the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s may have finally ended with Hillary Clinton’s speech at the 2008 Democratic Party Convention in Denver.

By enduring rejection at the hands of our inherited political-media machine and yet NOT accepting its diagnosis of defeat, Hillary Clinton, along with her millions of supporters, engineered a new role for an American politician. In short, Hillary Clinton, now a NOT-candidate for President of the United States, maintains a position of national and even international political leadership, not through television or the newspapers (or these forms online) but through web-native media and the grassroots support they daily rekindle.

Like Al Gore with his film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, and his Nobel Prize, Hillary is a former presidential candidate working, with renewed enthusiasm, to define the political agenda. But with all the respect due to Al Gore and his extremely important mission, Hillary’s leadership has been continuous and growing since the minute she became a NOT-candidate. Unlike in 2004, on this occasion, we didn’t have to wait.

As you point out, Anglachel, to be web-present for Hillary’s speech was to hear and see what political transcendence looks like. I agree, and so I suggest that the date of Hillary Clinton’s convention speech should be recognized as the birthday of a new web-political era. To have a NOT-candidate use classically constructed rhetoric to convey a pro-democratic message to the world from a partisan platform in Denver reveals that the web has already dissolved the late 20th century political-media alliance.

No matter who is elected President, Hillary’s speech has made us aware that an historical realignment of politics and media is taking place. The time has come when content-driven NOT-candidates may become more powerful and influential leaders than those formally elected.

chklaver said...

I was absolutely deeply touched by Hillary's speech. Aside from showing us what true grace and transcendent behavior requires and means, she did something I didn't feel was possible -- she inspired me to live up to my duty as a Democrat!

I was ready for this inspiration after watching Chelsea's tribute to her mother in which Bill was quoted as saying something to the effect of "Hillary GIVES energy to people."

And there it was for me, the single most significant difference between her and Obama. Obama TAKES our energy, or spirit, inspiration, happy dutifullness, honor in our identity -- all the positive things that Obama just doesn't seem to evoke despite his claims and repeated attempts to shame us.

It took just one speech from Hillary to make me feel this way. Despite listening to countless speeches from Obama, he's never inspired me. And she was able to do this through positive reinforcement of our single identity which does unify us and she made us feel PROUD to be who we are (something that has been lacking throughout this neo-progressive take over thing. And, anyway to me, enhance the single thing that defines us and the reason we need to oust those that try to break us down within our own party.

I am even more committed to fulfilling my principles, which I have a duty to live up to. It's not country before party, or anger before hope, or anything like that. I still feel that we as Democrats have to live up to our highest duty which is to preserve Democracy.

How many of you feel the same way?

Anglachel you really saw the same things I did during her speech too. In this one speech, she took control of the Party, its Platform, and redefined the image of the Clintons. And Bill just beamed!


Eidin said...

"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."

Great analysis. It was a clinic on duty i.e. dedication to a cause greater than oneself.

Everyone can learn from Hillary Clinton.

gendergappers said...

Yes, she did what had to be done for her Party but she gave us a shout out by what she didn't say.

Not once did she say he was ready and experienced enough to be president, electable, worthy of our trust, that she liked him, that he was competent, that he would be a great leader etc, etc.

With absolutely presidential aplomb, she gave the reasons why it was important for Democrats to win and did something spectacular - she did not pause and allow ovations, which are counted by the media and reported. As soon as one would start, she would speak over it. Even the nastiest Obomadroid could not fault her for trying to raise the rabble factor.

The affect of this was to raise the roof with the pent up pride and support in her audience. What she aimed for and accomplished was to send a clear message that history is not finished with her yet. We can do no less and pledge never to abandon her.

Other Lisa said...

All I can think of after watching Hillary's speech: she laid out why I should support Democratic principles, and the candidate who is supposed to embody them, Obama, does not.

I mean, he's going to speak from a faux Greek temple at a sports arena, fer chrissakes.

Anonymous said...

I don't watch the convention but made sure that I stay up to watch Hillary's speech. It was highly rewarding.

Politics is doing well when it's dealt with on the abstract/vague level. Hillary was very specific. She dealt with people who have cancer and people who need help. She built a large structure on top of that. That structure is basically the values of the Democratic party, or what used to be the Democratic party.

Of course, I absolute agree that the delivery was astonishing and that she basically spit in the face of the pundits and the Obama goons.

In some sense she has heaped a huge obstacle for Obama. He is not a Democrat and the Democratic party now is not Democratic. He plan a circus act in a stadium, he probably plans one of his wide ranging hope/change/Pony and dog shows he is so good at. It will look empty and ridiculous compared to Hillary inspirational speech.

He dug his own postpartisan grave.

The Raving Badger said...

They wanted defeat in her voice so that all of the other "uppity bitches" wouldn't get ideas about being in a man's world again.

R. Christian Moya said...

'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.'

Absolute quality!

Life As I Know It Now said...

I love that she inspires me to live up to our democratic principles. I also loved the way Bill smiled with love and approval at her during the speech. Hell yes he was proud and so was I!

soopermouse said...

I don't now who lost at the convention, but it wasn't Hillary. Myself and my partner foudn her speech highly subversive.

Hell yeah she didn't endorse Obama. Her speech was about everything Obama is not. The lesson was there for those who could see it. Fuck the fascist "unity". Fuck the personality cult and the thieves.

This reinforces what I wrote a while ago at my blog- and Red Queen's, about the case for John McCain- he is a lot less terrifying than OBama.
Not a great candidate any any stretch of the imagination, but you know what?
At least he doesn't pretend to be a democrat.
Yous ee, I don't cae much about a democrat party in which John McCain can be accused for his age, or for beign a cancer survivor. If they can do that, then it's just OK to attack Obama on his race as well, all -isms are the fucking same.
Fuck them and fuck their party.

femB4dem said...

Hillary gave an amazing speech, just as I know she would. What I took away from "her" night were the not-so-subtle digs from the Obama people: Having Mr. Anti-Choice Bob Casey speak on Women's Equality Day, and on the 88th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the vote, the keynote speaker is a man. All rightey then, thank you for reminding me why this new Dem party is not my party. And tonight, after Bill Clinton gave Obama his endorsement, playing him off the stage to "Addicted to Love?" Who would want to put these petty juveniles in charge of our country? Not me. I am dreaming instead of 2012.

show me said...

Thanks so much Angalachel for getting in writing what I was feeling, in your own individual style. You possess a mind we all need now and into the future.
She took him to school just like she has been doing since the beginning.I think she took us all to school. She will continue to lead us. She has created a movement that will last.