‘An artful response to Trump’

Jill Abramson in The Guardian:

ClinIn her convention speech, Hillary repeated a story she’s often told about her mother. Dorothy Rodham insisted that her daughter stand up to bullies, saying “Cowards don’t live in this house.” Her mantra was hit back when someone hits you. Her daughter clearly took the lesson to heart and enjoyed every punch she delivered on Thursday night in Philadelphia. It was payback time for all of those “Crooked Hillary” jabs from Trump and the Republican convention refrain, “Lock her up.” It was an effective performance, spoken not in anger, but in a tone of humorous sarcasm. Clinton often and proudly talks about how she gets under Trump’s skin and judging from his tweets after the speech, she surely did. Besides getting a kick out of kicking Trump, she’s quite good at ridiculing him. Her script was scrupulously factual, making her case against her opponent all the more devastating. Running against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and Barack Obama, she never seemed comfortable going negative. Politically, it was risky for a female candidate, especially her, to seem mean as she’s already viewed as unlikeable by a significant portion of voters.

But Trump has been so vulgar and mean himself, the political risk seems minimal. His temperament and crazed policy proposals, which have only become more preposterous lately, make him an easy target. Hillary’s best speeches in the campaign have been the ones in which she tears apart Trump’s proposals. Her speech in San Diego before the California primary was a triumph with its tight focus on Trump’s dangerous international and national security proposals, including banning Muslims from the country and reviving torture. Her convention speech was an artful retort to Trump, contrasting President Reagan’s “Morning in America” with Trump’s “Midnight in America.” She portrayed Trump’s boasts of being able to fix the country’s problems himself as un-American. The American way, she stressed repeatedly, is working together to fix the ills of society. Her performance in Philadelphia also showed that she’s become more media-savvy. A witty put-down is sure to receive more coverage than a dry policy lecture. Maybe Clinton has finally learned that she can’t let Trump own every news cycle. One of her funniest lines was: “There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.” The delegates roared.

More here.