That statement could describe Harry Truman in 1948 and Hillary Clinton last night. If Clinton is anything close to a history buff, the choice of clothing was likely not a coincidence.
On Thursday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman ever nominated by a major party to be their nominee for President of the United States.
It was a long journey, one that has come with scars and alienated many. Yesterday, the Democratic nominee sought to heal the fissures present both in her party and in the nation.
“An acceptance speech needs to do a lot of business in a relatively short amount of time,” former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau recently wrote for The Ringer. “The danger in a speech about everything is that it becomes a speech about nothing .”
In many ways, Clinton’s speech was just that. A workman address (no pun intended) that hit all the points it had to.
There were two themes that did emerge. The first was was an attempt to redefine, or explain, herself. The second was a denunciation of her opponent.
The crowd mostly cooperated with the nominee.
Some Bernie dead-enders wore neon yellow shirts and refused to clap during Hillary’s acceptance address. The problem was that identifying themselves showed just how small, though loud, they were.
Only about a hundred or so people were decked out in the ironic “Enough is Enough” t-shirts, packed together in pockets on the floor and lower level. Every attempt by them to chant something off-brand was overwhelmed by shouts of “Hill-a-ry, Hill-a-ry”.
There was also no possibility of walking out like they’ve done before. The Wells Fargo Center was jammed with people in the concourse, making it too difficult to make a demonstration. It also left those with seats afraid to use the restroom lest there spots be taken from them.
Despite the efforts of the die-hards, Clinton was never really rattled.
As she began it became clear that instead of trying to portray herself as the orator she isn’t, Clinton attempted to prove why her personality makes her prepared for the White House.
“The truth is, through all these years of public service, the service part has always come easier to me than the public part,” she admitted. “I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me.”
She then proceeded with an especially policy-laden portion of her speech.
“Now, you didn’t hear any of this, did you, from Donald Trump at his convention? He spoke for 70-odd minutes, and I do mean odd,” she added in her one joke of the evening “and he offered zero solutions. But we already know he doesn’t believe these things. No wonder he doesn’t like talking about his plans. You might have noticed I love talking about mine.”
Clinton made details a priority, getting into the weeds on issues like her tax proposal and her plan to fight ISIS.
Her other major strategy was to use Trump’s bombast against him. To ask Americans if they really trust “a man you can bait with a tweet” with the nuclear launch codes.
The harshest shot came indirectly, from a Jackie Kennedy quote reflecting on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mrs. Kennedy said her husband’s fear was that “war might be started not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men, the ones moved by fear and pride.”
Fundamentally, she argued that rather than turning to coarseness and extremism to restore a lost American exceptionalism, the nation should recognize it is strong when it stands by its values and openness.
“And in the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn’t get,” she declared. “America is great because America is good!”