Compared to most presidential announcement speeches, Hillary Clinton’s in New York Saturday was certainly unusually long. She spoke almost 12 minutes longer than her husband in 1991; more than 15 minutes longer than Al Gore in 1999; almost twice as long as Barack Obama in 2007.
Compared to the announcement speeches of her predecessors, Clinton also skimped on the acknowledgements of her beloved spouse. There was no equivalent of Bill’s, “I want to thank…Hillary for being my wife and friend and partner, for the love we’ve shared, and the work she’s done to make life better for children and families of this state and this country…” Nor did she bother with the “all praise and honor to God” that opened Barack Obama’s announcement. In other words: points to Clinton for sincerity.
On the other hand, the highly detailed policy message of her announcement was not unique. In that regard, her announcement followed the examples of Clinton, Gore, and John Kerry, too—although the heft and specificity of her policy detail far exceeded theirs. It was Obama’s grand thematic style that was exceptional among recent Democratic announcements.
Democrats thrilled to Obama’s announcement speech at the time. In retrospect, however, its message doesn’t stand up so well: America’s divisions are illusory, concocted out of nothing by shadowy interests to fragment a fundamentally united people. The way to overcome those divisions? Leadership. "What's stopped us from meeting these challenges is not the absence of sound policies and sensible plans. What's stopped us is the failure of leadership.” (Obama’s more liberal supporters now deride journalists who ask, “Why won’t Obama lead?” But Obama himself defined the issue in exactly that way.)