As she strides toward the podium tonight in Philadelphia to accept the Democratic nomination for president, Hillary Clinton may want to keep late Sen. Edward Kennedy in mind.
In 1980, Mr. Kennedy, locked in a bitter primary fight with incumbent President Jimmy Carter, was asked a simple question: “Why do you want to be president?”
He couldn’t answer it, and his candidacy met a grisly end.
Mrs. Clinton can’t answer that question, either, beyond some version of “I’m a woman, and it’s my turn.”
For eight years, she served and supported an administration that crippled the American economy, sapped our global power, and gave us Carteresque national malaise.
She has been inside the beast of President Obama’s radicalism. She has fed and humored the beast.
And tonight, she’s going to embrace the beast while attempting to convince us that she has never met the beast.
But given Republican nominee Donald Trump’s acceptance stem-winder last week and her sinking poll numbers, a workmanlike address won’t cut it. She needs a dramatic play, perhaps something along these lines:
“Friends, delegates, fellow Americans: I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.
“I come before you tonight a humbled woman. I’ve been chastened by what I have seen and heard from the American people.
“After decades on the far left, I finally realized that I — and my radical wingmen in this room — went too far, too fast, in the wrong direction.
“That’s why I am embracing real change. Not that phony ‘Greek columns,’ ‘we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for’ change of 2008, but change the American people actually want and need.
“First, jobs and the economy. I used to think historically high unemployment would help me get my big-government agenda through; the more people depend on the federal government, the more leeway I’d have to push through evermore spending.
“One problem: the American people reject our wholesale attack on the free market. Americans need to go back to work in order for the economy to grow, and no, not just in my beloved public sector. Our failed policies have only led to a stalled economy and plenty of misery — and misery has no place in America.
“I am also announcing tonight that the Republicans are right about tax cuts: They will stimulate job creation and economic growth. So I’ll move to slash marginal rates, effect a payroll-tax holiday and offer dramatic new tax cuts for businesses of all sizes.
“Second, as much as it kills me to say it since I was the grandmother of socialized medicine, it’s time to pull the plug on the incoherent mess known as Obamacare and start from scratch.
“Tonight, I am announcing adoption of key health care ideas that Republicans have been advocating all along: lowering costs through real competition by removing state barriers to insurance providers; enacting thoroughgoing tort reform; permitting medical savings accounts; and allowing states to experiment with other solutions. We need health care reform, but we don’t need a federal hijacking of nearly 20 percent of the economy.
“Third, I know I was a disaster as secretary of State. The Russian “reset,” Libya and the Benghazi terror attack about which I ruthlessly lied, the Syrian civil war, the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, the rise of the Islamic State and global jihad, the Iranian nuclear deal, a more aggressive China: all my responsibility and all catastrophic failures.
“Like President Obama, I thought my mere presence would reduce terrorism, stop Iran from building nuclear weapons and bring the Israelis and Palestinians together in peace. But as he once said about the Middle East peace process, ‘This is really hard.’
“And the world is desperately dangerous. Therefore, I would reinstate major Bush counterterrorism policies, including keeping Guantanamo Bay open, indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects, allowing enhanced interrogation techniques and continuing rendition of suspected terrorists to third countries.
“President Bush was right to treat this as a war, and President Obama was wrong to treat it as a law enforcement issue. I’ll move us back to a war footing, smash ISIS by unleashing our military and removing absurdly restrictive rules of engagement, and fight Islamic fundamentalism ideologically as well as geographically.
“From this point forward, I promise I’ll be a different kind of president. I promise to listen to Republicans and incorporate their best ideas. I promise to protect the homeland and defend our allies. I promise not to ram through big-government policies in defiance of public opinion. I promise no more system-rigging, for anybody. I promise real transparency, starting by producing all of my personal records and emails. And I promise to respect the Constitution, rule of law and the American people.
“This country is weak and endangered, in large part because of me. For that, I’m sorry.
“Your revolution — with its unlikely leader, Mr. Trump — has gotten my attention, and you’re right. Let’s make America great again.
“Goodnight, and God bless America.”
• Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.
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