Walking away from history

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was as good in person as it reads on paper?

I didn’t watch Hillary Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention last night because I don’t really like convention speeches as delivered. They’re full of applause lines and rehearsed spontaneity.

But take the same speech and read it off a printed page later, and the beauty of the writing shines, regardless of whether you agree with their meaning.

So today I picked up a copy of the transcript of her speech at the convention press office, and read it on the light-rail ride back to the hotel. I’m sure it was powerfully delivered, but I’ll bet it was more powerfully written.

Here’s the line that I found compelling in its simplicity:

“My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election year my daughter got to vote for her mother for president.”

Forget about Obama vs. Clinton and Obama vs. McCain for a second and let’s ponder this pretty powerful point.

Today, Sen. Clinton released her delegates so they can vote for Barack Obama in a show of unity. In the end, they’ll nominate Obama by acclimation in the belief that such an action will somehow make a difference to someone who isn’t strutting about Denver this week.

Sen. Clinton, whether you agree with her or not, has done something over the last two years that no other woman in history has done — she came close to being nominated to run for president by her (major) party.

Now the discussion I hope you’ll have here: Pretend you’re a delegate pledged to Mrs. Clinton. You’ve worked for two years and you believe her accomplishment is as meaningful as that vote her daughter got to cast for her. You’re at the end of the road and you have one opportunity to tell your grandchildren that you did something particularly meaningful in the history of the country’s politics.

How can you not cast that vote?

  • bsimon

    “How can you not cast that vote?”

    Couldn’t. If I were a Clinton supporter, I’d vote for her, having been ‘released’ not to, or not. As Bob implies, its pretty ridiculous that the parties think its important to have nomination by acclimation.

  • Elizabeth T.

    “How can you not cast that vote?”


    If I was delegated to vote for her, I would. Period. For the primary reason critical to our democracy, I pledged to do so. I keep my word, as I would hope the politicians I elect would also do so.

    Second, and perhaps the vicious little voice in my head: Obama doesn’t *have* to get the nomination. If more of the delegates vote for Clinton, she would get it. After all, if I *really* wanted her to get it, why not give it the last try? The convention is the true and final doorway to November 6, not the primaries.

    Today the conventions have become an idol worshiping festival. Her delegates ought to vote for her, if they are committed to do so. It might bring the conventions back to having a real function. (might or might not be good, but it would be more than a love-fest in Denver).

    My grandmother was 13 when women were granted the right to vote. I was born 42 years ago, long enough that I remember Geraldine Ferraro being selected to run as VP. I was 18 in 1984, when she was on the ticket. I didn’t have to imagine: I cast my first presidential vote for a ticket with a woman.

    And why have I never heard Ferraro mentioned in this race? Not to be to cynical, but is it because it might detract from H.Clinton’s “first woman ever” mantra. Clinton’s supporters are offended that Obama didn’t “respect her enough”? I am offended that I never heard her mention Geraldine Ferraro’s accomplishments, even if it was only mentioning that her laying one more brick on the path that Clinton could follow to the Big Ticket.

    If I had been in Clinton’s position yesterday, I would not have let go of my delegates until after the first vote. Partially, simply because I could. Partially to make my final stamp: see what I have done. And, partially, so that my delegates could concretely see what *they*, as delegates, had accomplished.

    If you’re reading speeches, try the Montana governor (whose name eludes me). *He* was a great speaker last night.

  • JohnnyZoom

    Concur with above two, I would not not cast it. Aren’t the conventions supposed to determine who the nominee is? Isn’t this process revealing, and doesn’t it make both Clinton and Obama react to party trends and currents, as it should? Even if the final outcome is the same, if the process is corrupt, what good is even running the process? (Rhetorical question only; obviously the largest free advertising opportunity in the free world is not to be denied…)

    BTW, I am a big fan of meaningful oxymorons (“jumbo shrimp” “reality television”, etc.). Bob’s “rehearsed spontaneity” definitely gets added to my list of faves.