Last weekend I went to Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa to attend a weekend class. On Saturday, I was in the building next to the gymnasium where Hillary was to give her speech. I slipped out of class and went to watch.
She is a dynamic speaker and a brilliant politician. When she came out, the crowd was excited, but it felt like it was more of a celebrity excitement than a political one. She began her speech with a little standard administration bashing and talked about the war. She was getting some clapping and response, but I could tell she was looking for more. She weaved through subjects and gauged the crowd. She jumped on topics that rose the energy level and breezed past subjects that seemed luke warm. When she mentioned how difficult it was to fill out a financial aid application, the crowd went crazy, and so did she. She rode the energy wave, and bolstered the crowd with encouragement and promises to streamline the application process. She attacked the Republicans for not doing more for students, and that went over well, so she pressed on. This crowd was all about education, health care, and a change in politics. She gave them all three. At the end of her speech, people were out of their chairs and the crowd was roaring.
I felt like she was promising a lot, possibly too much. She was engaging what I thought were some trivial issues. She leaned on her anti Republican stance rather than her specific problems with the administration, which I found troubling for reconciliation and consensus building. What I realized, though, was that she wasn’t really talking to me.
She was working the crowd. And she did it beautifully.