So What if Hillary Gives a Lousy Speech?

by ELIANA JOHNSON June 16, 2015 4:00 AM Hillary Clinton announced her first run for the presidency…

Georgia (Jun 16, 2015)by ELIANA JOHNSON June 16, 2015 4:00 AM


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Hillary Clinton announced her first run for the presidency by e-mail and then by video, seated on a couch in the sunroom of her home and surrounded by overstuffed floral pillows. “While I can’t visit everyone’s living room,” she said, “I can try.” As an American teenager might say: awkward. Clinton’s second presidential announcement came on Twitter, then in another video that departed from the 2008 version in that it barely featured her. It went over a lot better.

On Saturday, Clinton re-launched her campaign with a speech, a move that underscores both the importance of speeches in American political life and one of Clinton’s greatest vulnerabilities. Great speeches require something Clinton has refused to give: exposure, access, the illusion of intimacy. Standing up in front of a crowd makes you feel a little bit naked. But speeches are supposed to give us a sense of who our politicians are, what they believe, whether they can perform under pressure — and, on a fundamental level, they are supposed to give us a sense of whether we like them or not. That’s why speeches have the potential to put politicians in the history books or write them out entirely. …

Warren, and Obama before her, had the advantage of being able to introduce themselves to the country. Clinton doesn’t. “In order to make a great, groundbreaking speech it helps if one has something important, or new, to say,” says Kerwin Swint, a professor of politics at Kennesaw State University. “She doesn’t.” Swint says that, given Clinton’s voluminous public statements over the past three decades, “It’s hard to imagine her making a major policy address that would contain anything she hasn’t already laid bare. It would also be hard to see her making a major ‘personal’ address where she lays bare her soul.” …



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