Wednesday 21 March 2018

Hillary laced speech with appeals to the Republicans who cannot stomach The Donald

Clinton reminded voters that Trump benefits greatly from the global trade deals he has now publicly turned against. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Clinton reminded voters that Trump benefits greatly from the global trade deals he has now publicly turned against. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Shona Murray

After their four-day national convention in Philadelphia, Democrats can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now, that they managed to project an image of a normal, functioning party ready to continue the business of government.

Hillary Clinton's speech contained a laundry list of aspirations and intentions wide enough for even the most ardent Republican who can't bear to vote for Donald Trump to cross over to the Democratic dark side, even just this once.

A lot is being made about the relative flatness of her oration - compared with the speeches of two of America's most celebrated orators, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as an inspiring one from First Lady Michelle Obama on opening night, this may be so. But it was never going to be Ms Clinton's strongest point.

It's clear that she isn't as comfortable showing genuine emotion when she speaks. Ms Clinton rarely unmasks herself in a manner like that of Ms Obama, when the First Lady spoke about how her and her husband "urge" their daughters not to take notice when people question his citizenship or faith. And when Ms Obama acknowledged how she "wakes up every morning in a house built by slaves", it was clear that these points weighed heavily on her; it was visible when she became momentarily emotional as she spoke.

Perhaps it is understandable that Ms Clinton remains so guarded; after decades in the spotlight, with her personal life, as well any errors in public life, under intense scrutiny and subject to criticism, and there to be used at will for easy political gain by the opposition.

It was when she levelled a "full-throated", blistering attack on her rival Mr Trump, that she was most confident and comfortable.

Here she knows she has the upper hand. Her vast resume in government sets her up nicely as a person who can take charge and make reasonably sage decisions in the event of an emergency or terrorist attack.

She has enough knowledge to make decisions about military action and knows how to listen and heed advice about specific military objectives.

We were reminded of this several times in the course of the week, and when Mr Obama praised her for her counsel as part of a tiny cohort of the most senior members of the administration on deciding whether to pursue a high-risk operation to assassinate Osama bin Laden.

Her willingness to slap sanctions on Iran over its nuclear enrichment programme was also presented as a testament to her resolve to prevent the "wrong hands" accessing nuclear weapons, in particular a country often at odds with American interests, and those of its ally, the state of Israel.

Not long after this, she initiated negotiations on easing Iranian sanctions in exchange for a raft of commitments that led to non-proliferation. It is this adept use of 'smart power' that sets Ms Clinton apart from Mr Trump, a man who just last week effectively invited Russia to engage in cyber espionage against the US, asking Vladimir Putin's hackers to find 30,000 missing emails from Ms Clinton.

However, there is also long list of areas which point to Ms Clinton's total lack of judgment, which could be applied just as rationally as reasons for Americans not to vote for her as the next commander-in-chief.

She supported the Iraq war in spite of the clear lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction or any tangible link proving cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Al Qa'ida operatives hiding out in Northern Iraq before the war.

She is also heavily criticised for not preventing the attack on the US compound in Benghazi which led to the death of highly respected US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, as well as three staffers.

Several reports into the incident reveal that the compound was not adequately secure, and Republicans regularly take aim at Ms Clinton over this, blaming the deaths of Stevens and his staff solely on her, citing it as a clear example of Ms Clinton's ineptitude and lack of care for the safety of state department staff.

The family of Ambassador Stevens have asked that Mr Trump and the Republican Party stop using his name and death for "opportunistic and cynical" purposes.

Coming in to the Democratic Convention, Mr Trump edged Ms Clinton for the first time in the polls by almost 1pc, following the bounce he received after his own speech.

Arguably, this was in spite of his own party's convention, given the several gaffes and bizarre spectacles that ensued - not least the drama over Ted Cruz's refusal to endorse the party's candidate.

On stage on Thursday, Ms Clinton sought to discredit Mr Trump's record, saying he abandoned the workers who built his investments in Atlantic City.


In response to his promise to resuscitate manufacturing plants in the US, she reminded voters that he benefits greatly from the global trade deals he has now publicly turned against, saying that Trump furniture is made in Turkey, and Trumps ties are manufactured in China, etc.

It is these assaults that are most likely to resonate with the undecided voters and help her to get ahead in the polls before the major debates.

Although Ms Clinton is a sharp debater, the rules of engagement with Donald Trump are far from normal. He doesn't care much for facts or intelligible discourse. Far too many times, however, he's been written off as babbling and incomprehensible, but it didn't stop him beating 16 opponents in the Republican race, including a contender once thought to be destined for the nomination, Jeb Bush.

Serious polling will start in the coming days, but so far according to a CNN/ORD poll, Ms Clinton's speech was viewed more positively than Mr Trump's, with 56pc more likely to vote for her than before. Mr Trump got a 6-point bounce after his speech - we'll soon see what Ms Clinton received.

Irish Independent

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