Hillary Clinton’s recent campaign speech
Yesterday Hillary Clinton announced her unflinching support for gay marriage in this video. The video shows the ex-Secretary of State/ ex-FLOTUS calm and composed making her emotional yet logical argument for equal marriage rights and the role it plays in shaping modern America. Now, I very seriously doubt that anyone is shocked that Clinton supports equal marriage opportunity, and I am not going to write about whether gay marriage is “good” or “bad” (I am trying to remain unbiased in this blog…who knows if I will be successful). However, I do want to look at a few things within this topic: Clinton’s statement itself, this statement as a Clinton PR move, and her front running for 2016.
Hillary Clinton, who was the frontrunner for the Democratic party at one point in 2008, knows how to speak. While she may not be as good of an orator as her husband Bill, her old boss Obama, or Coach Jimmy V (he will be the feature of the next blog post), she is still an incredible speaker. In the video linked to above, Hillary uses her soft yet stern yet soothing voice to explain her reasons for supporting gay marriage. She framed the speech with the human rights campaign banner seen on the right. That carefully placed banner portrayed this issue, in Hilary’s eyes, as about something more than a disagreement in religion or politics, about basic human rights. She says in her video “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights” drawing the parallel. She then begins using her experience to show what she means.
She delves deep into the fights and “pretty tough conversations” she has had with foreign leaders who do not agree with her, but she, as the ex- Secretary of State (mentioned probably three or four times in the video…showing her credentials), knows what it means for America to be a leader in human rights and specifically gay rights. She says that the United States has to be the leader in defending gay rights, and that “America is best when we champion freedom and dignity…it’s in our DNA” (who can argue with that?). She continues showing her experience by talking about a young Tunisian who approached her after their uprising (sort of a pat on the back, “we got through that one America, you’re welcome”) who asked about gay rights which showed her that the world views America as the leader and as an example. She talks about how these experiences “deepened her pride in our country and the ideas we stand for.” She also makes a clear that she has now “left public office,” I don’t want to say hinting but she is in a way proclaiming her ability to speak freely and consider new public office roles (hint hint keep reading). Then we get to where the speech writer takes over.
The language in the second half of the address is flowery, colorful, and over all moving. Is it too much? I like to think that people should be able to be expressive so no, I would not say it is too much, but if you think so that is totally valid. She begins the emotional pull with “there is work we must do at home.” To no surprise she builds a connection between the civil rights and the fight for gay rights, but what was tactful was the way she layered the foundation for this partnership. She uses the words “march” and “perfect union” along with “full and equal citizens.” These words are emotional ones for the black civil rights movement. The word “march” reminds people of the Washington Mall, “perfect union” of the speeches given describing what America could be, and full and equal citizens showcasing that we cannot segregate or differentiate. Later she uses the example of the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movements by name, but her subtle image planting from earlier is successful, we already know she is going there. She also gives a small, possibly unintentional (I read into things) nod to immigration reform saying that gay and lesbian people “deserve the rights of citizenship… that includes marriage.”
Finally she points to her “experience, devotion and faith,” as to why she supports gay marriage and equal rights. She talks about marriage (the first time I listened to the speech I laughed a bit) saying “marriage is a building block, great joy and great responsibility” and then uses an anecdote about going to their daughter’s wedding to bring it closer to home. Finally she ends on a good note saying that we can “move closer and closer to that more perfect union promised to us all.” Overall, very good speech. (my rating would be an A-). However, moving past the speech it is important to think about the reasons for Clinton’s statement, as a public relations move. Why now? Why in this way? How is it framed by the media?
Clinton’s views were not a secret before she came out with this. To quote a Politico article written by Maggie Heberman entitled “Hillary Clinton stays in the game with gay marriage move” (when was Hillary out of the game?) she writes “Coming less than three months after she departed the State Department, Clinton’s move was about as surprising as a setting sun. Her party, not to mention her husband and daughter, was already on record as backing gay marriage.” (Check out the whole article here: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/hillary-clinton-stays-in-game-with-gay-marriage-move-89033.html#ixzz2O1Losy7p).
While Hilary never actually left the game (her name has been on the tongue of everyone talking about the 2016 election), the image that she may not be a politician right now but is still concerned with human rights, dignity for all, and can use her powers and experience to help. This is a very clever move and I applaud it, as long as she is out of office she can use it with the old “together we can reform Washington” (see Obama back in 08). In addition, she could kind of leak this video because…well she is Hillary Clinton, if she leaked where she was eating lunch Politico would pick it up and run it front page (nothing wrong with that Politico, you guys are on top of your game). As far as a PR move, there was no downside to what she just did, only up and keeping her name in the minds and hearts of so many out there. Which brings us to the last point, Hilary 2016.
I know, I know, Joe Bidden or something or other about how someone else might get the nomination. No. She can take a little time off because she just finished up a pretty major job, but you better believe she will keep her name on the top of the list. I won’t be surprised if we see videos like this coming out every 3-6 months as part of her build up strategy. Whether we recognize it or not, this was Hillary campaign speech. If you ask me, a Clinton v. Christie ticket would be the most entertaining Presidential race I have ever seen. All we can do is wait and see what happens.