Hillary Clinton belatedly offered her rationale running for president last weekend, making the case that she's an experienced fighter who will forcefully advocate progressive-minded policies to raise the fortunes of disaffected Americans. It was a well-delivered and necessary speech to counter the endless reminders about her entitled status—from her secretive home-brew email server as secretary of State to the avoidance of the press and regular voters during her initial presidential launch.
But at the same time, the speech underscored what will make Clinton's campaign a challenging endeavor—it was detached from the political realities of the moment. She assiduously sidestepped controversial issues dividing her party, avoided others entirely, and sounded like a born-again populist despite being one of the wealthiest women in the country. She barely mentioned her role as secretary of State or her service as a senator from New York. Far from being confident that the country has moved sharply to the left, as one of her super PAC's top advisers pronounced, Clinton sounded as if she was hedging her bets, sprinkling liberal shout-outs over taking firm positions on specific issues.
In classic Clinton fashion, she railed against income inequality while arguing that a growing economy will lift all boats. She tweaked Wall Street for excess, while praising other companies' long-term investment in benefits. She referenced progressive priorities, like climate change and expanded voting rights, without making them the core of her address.