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Susan Estrich
10 Feb 2016
Why Women Should Be for Hillary

There is one reason young women should support Hillary Clinton for president. It happens to be, in my … Read More.

5 Feb 2016
Donald Trump: Sore Loser

It was the shortest speech anyone can remember him giving. He was clearly in a state of disbelief. How could … Read More.

3 Feb 2016
Rubio's the One

You can pick your headline for Iowa: "Trump Didn't Win!" "Hillary Didn't Lose!" "Rubio's the One!" I prefer … Read More.

Great Speeches


Hillary gave a great speech. Bill gave a great speech. Barack gave a really great speech. That's what everyone is saying, and who am I to disagree? Of course, I've never been to a convention, Republican or Democratic, where everybody didn't say on Thursday night that it was a really great speech. Truth is, I can barely remember most of them.

The question is whether it matters.

It certainly matters for Bill and Hill. They needed to be seen as having delivered, not only, or even particularly, for Barack Obama's sake, but for the sake of their own places in the party's past and future.

There is an old saying in politics that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan. But that is not really true. Defeat is an invitation to find a thousand scapegoats. If Hillary and Bill had not delivered for Obama, they would be prime targets in the blame game that will be in full force come November if he doesn't win. As a result of this week, of two deservedly acclaimed speeches and Hillary's move to nominate Obama by acclimation, there is no one who will be able to credibly argue that Obama's fate is Hillary's or Bill's fault.

But will all these great speeches, Obama's especially, make a difference come November?

There is a short answer to that. No one knows. I talked to some folks Thursday night who were moved, awed and inspired, who honestly believe they saw history in the making and the foundation for a new day in America. I talked to some who were struck by how young he looked, how conventional his promises sounded, how amazing it was that a guy with so little experience could believe that he is ready to be president of the United States. And I talked to some people, more than I would ever have guessed six months ago, who watched the ball game instead, or who were busy putting their kids to bed or fixing dinner and didn't watch at all.

It was a great spectacle. It was amazing theater. It wasn't exactly "I have a Dream." It was more like a Mondale speech, a list, a traditional Democratic agenda delivered by a better speaker in a more spectacular setting. Maybe that's what Hillary's supporters were waiting to hear, what Reagan Democrats wanted to hear.

Or maybe they're still asking themselves, as McCain has been encouraging them to do and Hillary encouraged them to do earlier in the year, whether the freshman senator and international celebrity is ready to be president. My guess is both.

Coming into this convention, Obama faced a number of challenges: to convince people that he understands the problems of people who aren't like him; to persuade them that change is more than a slogan and that he will make their lives better; to tie McCain to Bush and, even more importantly, establish that McCain even without Bush is the wrong choice for the future; and to convince people that he, Barack Obama, is ready. I thought his speech went a fair distance toward accomplishing the first two goals.

He did not wear Harvard sweats as a baby. He was not to the Manor, or the Admiral, born. His list of programs was a compendium of Democratic platforms from the last two decades. It may not appeal to small-business men and women worried about higher taxes, or to voters who don't feel rich or live rich but have some reason to worry that they will be the ones who will have to pay for all these new programs. But it was almost certainly the right list for the Hillary Democrats who have, to date, found Obama to be utterly resistible.

With Obama running as many as 15 points behind the generic Democrat, you could do worse, especially in August, than to give a generic Democratic speech. As for undercutting McCain, that may be a closer question. I know Democrats, and most Americans, have had it with Bush, but if there is one Republican who has the ability to separate himself from the president, it is the man who ran against him (and maybe didn't even vote for him) eight years ago.

McCain was for the war (and so was Biden), but he was for a different war than the one Bush waged. He voted against the Bush tax cuts (before he supported them) and has stood up to the president more than most Republican senators. He may be a relative, but he's not a twin.

I think the most important question people ask of a presidential candidate these days is not who he's for or against, or even what he's for or against, but whether he is indeed qualified and ready for the job he seeks. That's a hard, maybe impossible, question for anyone to answer in a speech. Ultimately, that's what the campaign itself will have to answer.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



5 Comments | Post Comment
I read your article on sen.Kennedy, I could only disagree with you more. This man is the reason congress is screwed up along with the reids and pelosis. This man should have been accused of manslaughter but daddy's name paid his way to freedom. The kennedy's of the 60's were the most dispicable human beings ever.John had the white house as a bordelo he had more women in different hotels that would have made bill clinton look like a baby. His brother robert was a cover up atty general and just recently teddy while his nephew was sexually harrassing a female at the palm beach estate he was in his underwear walking around the mansion. the only one's that have some class in that family is maria shriver and jackie's daughter and the late john.It is unfortunate that he is ill but he is no catholic he is a vote getter and when the fire heats up you need to have principals which he has none.ciao
Comment: #1
Posted by: john fdez
Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:34 AM
I don't know if anyone else has mentioned it but -- the disgruntled Hillary Clinton
supporters can now vote for McCain/Palin assuming McCain will serve only one
term and Hillary Clinton can run against Palin in 2012.
Does anyone doubt that the Obama political juggernaugt rolled over Hillary
Clinton without giving her adequate respect and consideration?
Can the Democrats point out that Palin has "no experience" without raising
the issue of whether or not experience counts?
There are several factions in the United States that are not enamoured with
Obama: white racists, gun nuts, veterans, flag waving patriots, Catholics,
evangelical Christians and some Hillary supporting women.
Obama will lose because the pollsters will get wrong as they did in 1948.
In reference to 1948 -- the GOP criticized Truman for speaking at every
"whistle stop." Yesterday the Obama campaign criticized Palin for being
the Mayor of a small town. That could backfire for the Democrats -- and
it certainly smacks of elitism.
My best wishes to you.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mickey Croce
Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:50 AM
I have to admit that I agree with you and I am grateful that you were honest. If I hear McCain will be a continuation of Bush one more time I will vomit. McCain was a thorn in Bush's side for most of his two terms. Thank you Susan for writing about this. I do have to question the motive though. After reading how Hillary congratulated Palin and now reading this article has convinced me that Hillary is looking at the next presidential election. Hillary forced Obama to congratulate Palin by her reaction to the selection. I am not a fan of Hillary but I have to admire her shrewedness.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Kathaleen McCausland
Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:14 PM
One of the great things about Sarah Palin's nomination is that the bigots in the media no longer have an excuse. They can't claim their antipathy was directed against Hillary Clinton because she's Hillary Clinton, not because she's a woman.

Anyone who doubts the news media's prejudice should search for the exchange between CNN's John Roberts and Dana Bash where he wonders if a VP Palin will have time to care for her disabled daughter.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Liz
Mon Sep 1, 2008 8:09 AM
Regarding Hillary Clinton not making the Republican ticket for the presidential candidate, Estrich needs to get over it. Most of America does not want the Clintons again in the White House running their own show. And show it was!
Comment: #5
Posted by: Kathy Garcia
Tue Sep 2, 2008 10:16 AM
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