HRC’s speech

Exceeds expectations. A solid B speech.

Hillary is the star of the morning; the other speakers didn’t get much more attention than their speeches deserved. As an un-fan, I was pleasantly surprised by her speech, which (mostly) wasn’t actively painful to listen to. [If you ever want to appear eloquent, appear against a background of the sort of oratory characteristic of this convention. It brings me back to junior high school, except that I seem to recall some of the candidates for treasurer of the student body being somewhat less boring.]

At the beginning and recurrently, Hillary shouts into the microphone, whether out of genuine emotion or because of bad habits developed in speaking over the (real or imagined) roar of crowds. Her voice is already hoarse; if I were her voice coach, I’d be worried.

She does a pretty good autobiography, with a long and interesting account of her mother’s difficult childhood. That segues into the verse-and-refrain part of the speech, with the refrain line being “You are invisible” (to the Bush Administration).

Her immigration riff is cunningly devised, starting out with a strong affirmation that “immigrants are the lifeblood of America” and then moving into a fairly tough-sounding set of policy proposals, including a national personal registration system. The crowd is enthusiastic about the “lifeblood” part, less so about what comes later, but she seems to get away with it. Nice gay-rights line: at the end of a litany of “no matters” (you ought to be treated well “no matter” this or that) she adds, “No matter who you love,” which gets a big cheer.

Someone seems to have told HRC that her speeches needed some gestures. Now someone has to tell her that the gestures should look reasonably normal and human. At points it looks as if she’s trying to fly by flapping her arms.

Overall, not a terrible performance. But the speech seemed to me a collection of parts that didn’t really make a whole. I’m not sure that a random rearrangement of the paragraphs would have done it any harm.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: