Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I've just read Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton's Democratic Convention speech, delivered a couple hours ago. I don't want to seem as if I am picking on the senator's message; I'm not really trying to rake semantic dirt over it, either. I liked what she had to say in a speech driven by the overriding need to repair a party rift created by a nominations race often characterized by seemingly bitter opposition. I think she spoke with grace, incidentally underlining the paramount curbing the dire economic situation Democrats are stumping to avoid. Okay. But in light of some eyebrow-raising racial allusions the senator and her husband have uttered over the recent campaign trail, I can't help but think that her citation of Harriet Tubman*--in an ostensible illustration of the historic power of can-do working-class vigor in pursuit of a righteous, healthy, and equal America--was a little bit thoughtless. From the speech:

Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice: "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going." And even in the darkest moments, that is what Americans have done. We have found the faith to keep going.

In form, I think including this plays as overly speechy and a little trite. But I cannot help but also be concerned that the lingering analogy is that of a strong woman helping runaway blacks to achieve their goals. I am certain that the senator didn't intend to compare herself with Ms. Tubman during her rousing speech in support of her recent opponent, but maybe even chancing this mistaken impression (and commentary like this post here) was a little bit daft. [Cavin]

Then, a 2 sided conversation ensued...

To which Blogger Gwenda added:

You know, I think if I read it, I'd feel the same way. But watching it, she delivered it in a way that was really powerful, and it just came across as ballsy. It was a helluva a performance from her.

But, yeah, it's hard to forget some of the things that were said during the campaign. I'm hoping Bill will redeem himself some in his speech too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 10:59:00 PM  
To which Blogger Mr. Cavin added:

Sunshine said much the same thing when I read her this entry over the phone (she's in Hà Nội). It seems that there are several places where reading this speech pales in comparison to hearing the performance, and I'm glad that's true (and that you've brought it up here).

Of course, there is no indication that the same is true for my post, which elicits the same response when read or spoken.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:31:00 PM  

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