Quick impressions on Hillary Clinton's first major speech of her second presidential campaign.
1. She unveiled an impressively long list of domestic policies designed to help Americans buffeted by historic economic change—liberal succor such as government support for child care, preschool, sick leave, income parity, and a higher minimum wage. It sounded like a State of the Union address.
2. After George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008, you'd expect presidential candidates to be careful about making promises they can't and won't keep. Americans' trust in politics, government, and both parties is at record lows. A supermajority of the U.S. public say the state of the union is not good.
3. She spoke emotionally about her mother, Dorothy Rodham, who gave Clinton the confidence to push past a lifetime of obstacles and to believe that any goal is possible—even the presidency. Some aides said the biographical touches were designed to restore public trust in Clinton.
4. No speech or even news conference can fix the damage Clinton did to herself by violating White House policies on government email and foreign donations to her family charity. The antidote: Submit her email server to an independent review and return foreign donations to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Foundation.
"Getting personal" doesn't curb your trust deficit. Getting open and honest does. https://t.co/i0oFcdC621— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) June 13, 2015
5. She tapped into a bipartisan vein of populism, telling Americans that corporations and CEOs are thriving while "your paychecks barely budge." Hedge-fund managers earn more money than the combined total of American kindergarten teachers, she said, and often pay fewer taxes. "You have to wonder, 'When does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead?'" Democracy, she said, can't just be for people who break rules and profit from it.
6. Rule breakers? She made no mention of the emails or the foundation—or whether she communicated via email as secretary of State about the foundation and its donors.
7. In an interesting riff on leadership, she said political elites "can blame forces beyond our control" for gridlock and polarization, but nothing excuses them from poor choices that deepen dysfunction. That sounded like a dig at President Obama and his liberal allies who blame "structural problems" and the GOP for his utter failure to unite the nation and change, even slightly, the culture of Washington. Clinton pledged to work with Republicans, Democrats, and independents to get important work done.
8. "They turn their backs on gay people who love each other," she said of the GOP presidential field. She attacked Republicans on climate change, financial regulations, health care, abortion, and immigration. Feeding red meat to partisan voters has a long history in politics, but for this speech, it felt like a poor choice.
9. She billed herself as a fighter, an advocate who has fought in the trenches for women, children, health care, and other progressive causes since before many of her supporters were born. "My mother taught me that every person needs a chance and a champion."
10. No mention of a trade deal abandoned by Democrats on Friday, a pact she once called the "gold standard." Still waffling. Still dodging. Still calculating the costs of following her conscience, whatever that now means. Champions take stands.
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