early and often

To Many, Hillary Clinton Left Much Unsaid

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With the incessant chatter of PUMAs and intra-party sniping as a backdrop, Hillary Clinton came to the stage at the end of day two with a duty to put to rest, as best one person can, the disunity among Democrats. (Peter Keating reviews the coverage, and Clinton’s speech, here.) She didn’t disappoint, giving a full-throated endorsement of Barack Obama and making the case to all those die-hard Hillary holdouts that Obama shares their ideals. But political observers are split over whether that was enough, with a large contingent focusing more on what Hillary didn’t say: nothing about Obama’s readiness to be president, and almost nothing about him on a personal level.

• John Dickerson notices that though Hillary provided everything “rank-and-file Democrats” could want, she “never made the case that Barack Obama was ready to lead as commander in chief,” which “felt like a hole.” [Slate]

• John Fund calls it the “best speech of her career.” The speech accomplished more than either Ted Kennedy or Ronald Reagan were able to do with their losing convention speeches. [WSJ]

• Michael Tomasky points out Hillary “didn’t vouch at all for Obama’s character,” nor did she “say anything about Obama’s ability as commander-in-chief,” even though “she was under a special obligation to do this, at the very moment when McCain is running an ad using her” quotes from the primary against Obama. [Guardian]

• Daniel Casse claims much of the speech was comprised of a “waterfall of phrases that are preprogrammed on the laptops of Democratic speech writers” and “feminist boilerplate.” [Contentions/Commentary]

• Jonathan Chait thinks Hillary “delivered the best speech she could honestly give for him,” even if she’s “clearly hesitant about the prospect of [Obama] as president.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Jonathan Cohn writes that Hillary’s “recitation of the Democratic agenda was necessary and, to my ears, welcome,” because many voters think Obama and the Democrats “don’t offer real solutions.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Jennifer Rubin says that while Hillary “can’t be criticized for withholding support … she didn’t really say anything nice about him,” and “didn’t take back her 3 a.m. jab.” [Contentions/Commentary]

• Ben Smith thinks the speech “did the obvious,” and “was a study in the virtue of low expectations.” [Politico]

• Steve Kornacki highlights some last-minute editing on Hillary’s part: She dropped a line from her prepared text that told her supporters they should vote for Obama. [NYO]

• Michael Crowley expected to see a “clear, flat assertion that Obama is qualified and prepared to be commander in chief from day one, which of course was always her central critique of him.” [Stump/New Republic]

• Craig Crawford calls the speech “so NOT what Barack Obama needed”: “an obligatory, boiler-plate endorsement that was devoid of a single personal reference to indicate whether she had ever even met the presumed Democratic nominee.” You even “got the impression from this speech that, on a personal level, she likes McCain better than Obama.” [CQ Politics]

• Rich Lowry imagines Hillary and Bill drafting the speech, “putting the stuff about Obama on a scale, and calibrating it word for word, syllable by syllable, until they had reached the perfect bare minimum about Obama.” According to Clinton, Obama is only great because he “happens to be a member of the same party as Bill Clinton.” [Corner/National Review]

• Dahlia Lithwick thinks Hillary “was as compelling, persuasive and commanding as we’ve come to expect,” even if she “talked about herself a lot,” which she’s earned. [XX Factor/Slate]

• Jim Geraghty says Hillary “did everything [Obama] could possibly want,” and her “delivery is miles ahead of where she was when she began this race.” [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Andrew Sullivan calls it “an average performance, not a slashing attack on the Bush-Cheney record, nor a rousing rallying cry for Obama, nor a very insightful analysis of the country’s problems.” [Atlantic]

• Ezra Klein contends that Hillary became the “party’s standard bearer,” and gave “a speech about being a Democrat, and what electing a Democrat will mean for the country.” It was “one of the first speeches with resonance beyond the convention.” [American Prospect]

• Steve Bennen agrees that Hillary didn’t make a personal endorsement, but “at the same time, she effectively explained that an Obama victory is an absolute necessity,” and she didn’t show “a hint of disappointment or regret.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Joan Walsh says Hillary “hit all her targets Tuesday night, even working in a joke about her pantsuits.” [Salon]

• Isaac Chotiner notes that “the respect people feel for Senator Clinton derives from that fact that she did something every single other presidential candidate who lost a primary in this stage-managed modern era would have done.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Chuck Todd and friends say the speech “was an impressive balance of anti-McCain sound bites and the case for the Democratic way of governing,” and also a balance “of preserving her own political future and being for Obama.” [First Read/MSNBC]

Related: Best Speech of Hillary Clinton’s Career Caps Genuinely Exciting DNC Night

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

To Many, Hillary Clinton Left Much Unsaid