PHILADELPHIA — The media may have fawned over Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech Thursday night, but it's all for show. She's the first female nominated by a major political party, so they have to make her seem inspiring and historic, even if her speech wasn't.
As my colleague Byron York pointed out, Clinton could only hope to be the fifth best speech of the Democratic National Convention, trailing Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and of course President Barack Obama. I actually think she would only be the sixth best, because of the support Bernie Sanders still has. Each one gave a rousing and unique speech, and even those who disagreed with the content have to give them that much.
Michelle Obama, in particular, stood out at this convention, giving a speech that has led some to speculate about whether she will run for office in the future. The mere mention of her speech elicited thunderous applause from convention goers — even more applause than Hillary Clinton herself got. Biden was typical Biden, and President Obama gave the perfect bookend speech to his acceptance eight years ago, which may go down in history as one of the greatest acceptance speeches of all time.
Bill Clinton was the only person at the entire convention who was able to humanize Hillary. The way he talked about her and how they first met and what she was working on before America was introduced to her seemed so genuine and endearing. Other speakers talked about Hillary Clinton calling them after various traumatic or momentous events; attending their weddings or visiting them in the hospitals, but for some reason it didn't feel real. Hillary Clinton doesn't give off a vibe of compassion, so hearing it from people who aren't as gifted at public speaking as Bill just didn't help.
But Clinton's acceptance speech Thursday night reminded us all why we needed people to humanize her in the first place. Perhaps I'm being too hard on her, and behind the scenes she really is an amazingly caring and funny person. She seems too cold and calculating for that, but then again, people thought Mitt Romney was a robot until that Netflix documentary showed otherwise.
She was more than halfway through her 56-minute speech before she said anything memorable. It was the point when she would list a liberal belief and then say, "join us." I, naturally, was irked when she mentioned equal pay (a continuous lie from the left designed to make women feel they are discriminated against), but overall it was a strong moment in the speech.
From there it rambled through various policy statements, sounding more like it was cobbled together from the speeches of all the other Democratic convention speakers and her own stump speech than something new and different. She even used the stale line "deal me in" she has been saying since someone on her campaign team thought it up to use against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's claim she was using the "woman card."
Some of her most memorable lines can easily be turned against her by Republicans. For example, when she said: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons," I could immediately imagine what a GOP response would be: "A woman who mishandles classified information is not a woman we can trust with state secrets."
Or how about when she said: "And if we're serious about keeping our country safe, we also can't afford to have a president who's in the pocket of the gun lobby."
It would be so easy for Republicans (and Bernie Sanders supporters) to come back with: "And if we're serious about fixing our economy, we also can't afford to have a president who's in the pocket of Wall Street."
Despite a week spent by numerous speakers trying to get Democrats on board with Hillary Clinton, they party is still not unified. Sanders supporters wore glow-in-the-dark shirts with the words "Enough is enough" on them and tried booing during Hillary's speech. The former secretary of state's supporters had to drown them out with chants of "Hill-a-ry." Eight years ago, the crowd changed "O-ba-ma" — not to drown out boos, but because they were obsessed with the man.
Hillary had an opportunity to give a truly historic and inspiring speech as the first woman nominated by a major party. The speech she delivered was forgettable. Maybe that's by design — run the most boring, forgettable campaign, letting Trump fall over himself, and hope that gets her to the White House. It's like they're hoping to win by default. But that speech could be a missed opportunity.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.