June 13, 2008

Commentary:

What a sweet, gracious, generous speech; Hillary embraces Obama!

By Don Williams

Hillary Clinton can flat deliver a speech, and her latest is for the ages, because there was nothing flat about what she said or how she said it Saturday shortly before 1 p.m. The speech soared to high eloquence and descended to moments of sweet reflection, delivering its crucial, head-line grabbing message in wave after wave of electrifying support for Barack Obama.

“I will work my heart out to make sure that Sen. Obama is our next president,” she said, in about as clear an endorsement as one is likely to hear. “And I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort!”

Standing between giant twin pillars of historic National Building Museum near the White House she’d yearned to occupy again one day, she had the audience drinking in every word. There were tears, cheers, laughter and hugs in the audience, including some from Chelsea and Bill Clinton, who took a bow, stage left.

Even die-hard supporters who vowed never to support Obama-and yes, there were some sitting on their hands-must’ve been moved. If anyone entered the hall with doubts in their hearts or minds as to Hillary’s commitment to America, the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton, women everywhere, but most importantly to Barack Obama, she surely emptied them of such doubt and poured in conviction.

This might be the best speech anyone ever delivered in support of Obama, and one of the best concession speeches ever crafted, right up there with Al Gore’s eloquent concession in 2000.

Obama is not a fool. Far from it. He will make maximum use of this woman, who has honed her talents to a fine point in the crucible of 54 primary contests and 22 debates. In this moment she just might be the single best politician in America, maybe the world. She was surging at the end of that complex process, winning lopsided victories in several states.

Surely that record, coupled with this speech, has secured her a spot on Obama’s short list of candidates for vice-president. If that notion proves too blessed unwieldy, he’ll surely find some other way to take her up on the pledge to work hard for him.

Hillary’s speech surpassed all expectations, surely. It blessed and vindicated her supporters. It lifted their hearts and minds. It validated the long struggle to keep her nomination alive to reach this point. Most of all, it embraced Obama in no uncertain terms.

It also delivered a message in a bottle to future historians. In a speech she surely knew would be history-making, no matter what she said or how she said it, she said and did all the right things.

Speaking to women and girls, she admonished them never to give up.

Speaking to blacks, Hispanics and others of color, she inveighed against racism and prejudice in absolute terms.

Speaking to inheritors of our Earth, she gave a clarion call, summoning us all to save the Earth and stop global warming for all creatures with whom we share our world.

Speaking to supporters of former President Bill Clinton she took pains to place in vivid perspective his accomplishment in winning two of the only three terms by a Democratic president in the past 40 years.

And her conclusion was a rousing plea for unity and victory.

I confess, the speech brought tears to my eyes, and I found myself wishing that she’d made a few different decisions, so I could’ve supported her for president.

I do support her for vice-president. She’s as charismatic as Obama. She’s tough, relentless, sunny, optimistic, attractive and bright. Surely she and Obama together will be an unstoppable force in American politics and American life.

Go Obama. Go Hillary.

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist for Knoxville Voice, a blogger for www.knoxvoice.com and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary stories, essays and poems.

Letters to the Editor Return to the Frontpage