The commencement speech is a remnant from a time when oratory was a crucial skill, and central to university education. From the mid-1600s until the early 1900s, commencement ceremonies were a public celebration, an opportunity for the students to show off their intellectual achievements to their community. Graduates would give ‘disputations’ in Hebrew, Greek and Latin – formal academic debates on philosophical questions. This is no longer the case. Oratory is no longer a central skill, which brings us to Hillary Clinton. This past Friday she eulogized her failed presidential campaign to the 2017 graduating class of Wellesley College.
Ernest Hemingway once said that “there is nothing noble about being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Unfortunately, 2017 Hillary is in no way superior to 2016 Hillary. Far from a traditional commencement address her speech was an embarrassing furtherance of the farce of Stronger Together – a campaign undone by an assumption of esteem totally bereft of humility.
Clinton’s brand of opportunist liberalism is entirely reliant on assumptions, on justifying the raw emotion of her coterie.
“The advance of technology, the impact of the internet, our fragmented media landscape make it easier than ever to splinter ourselves into echo chambers. We can shut out contrary voices, avoid ever questioning our basic assumptions, extreme views are given powerful microphones, leaders willing to exploit fear and skepticism have tools at their disposal that were unimaginable when I graduated. And here’s what that means to you, the class of 2017: You are graduating at a time that there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason…”
And Mrs. Clinton is a willing participant in that assault. Because she is referring to your truth and your reason which in the end, is simply your opinion. This enables her to say “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights… words that seem newly urgent,” instead of making a sincere case for abortion on demand, for any reason and at any time. She allows herself to bypass having to discuss any messy particulars while coupling pro-life advocacy to a fictitious contempt of women. It can be easy to assume the worst of people who have a different view of the world, especially when those people chose to elect instead the embodiment of their frustration with politicians like Mrs. Clinton.
If it is true that a person’s true character is revealed in defeat you might think that Mrs. Clinton would feel great pride in addressing graduates at a time when more women are graduating college than men, when more women are going on to get master’s degrees and Phds than men, but no, because it is far easier to talk to a room full of adoring fans about glass ceilings and in-built prejudice than to hold 40 campaign events in the month of August like her opponent did. It is easy to claim to be the victim of an elaborate plot between two countries that hate one another while allowing your opponent to hold nearly 4 times the number of events to 16 times the number of participants. It is a far lesser challenge to attend 350 fundraisers and spend a quarter of a billion dollars on advertisements that focused more on who her opponent is than who she is. It’s easy to tell a room full of adoring fans that their voices are on the verge of being silenced while Antifa groups are gathering – exclusively across the 15% of townships that she won – to vandalize local businesses and assault dissenting voices.
Hillary did touch on an “attack of unimaginable cruelty,” though not in reference to the Manchester terror attack but to the most recent Republican budget that funds Planned Parenthood, sanctuary cities, and increases the HB-2 visa program without allocating funds for the border wall that her opponent spent two years campaigning on. Perhaps the real unimaginable cruelty is standing before a crowd of people who just spent $200,000 for a degree, people who simply want validation, inspiration, and recognition – and giving them the very essence of what they claim to stand against, instead of something like this from Ronald Reagan’s address at the commencement of Notre Dame’s graduating class of 1981:
“This Nation was born when a band of men, the Founding Fathers, a group so unique we’ve never seen their like since, rose to such selfless heights. Lawyers, tradesmen, merchants, farmers — 56 men achieved security and standing in life but valued freedom more. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Sixteen of them gave their lives. Most gave their fortunes. All preserved their sacred honor. They gave us more than a nation. They brought to all mankind for the first time the concept that man was born free, that each of us has inalienable rights, ours by the grace of God, and that government was created by us for our convenience, having only the powers that we choose to give it. This is the heritage that you’re about to claim as you come out to join the society made up of those who have preceded you by a few years, or some of us by a great many.
For the West, for America, the time has come to dare to show to the world that our civilized ideas, our traditions, our values, are not — like the ideology and war machine of totalitarian societies — just a facade of strength. It is time for the world to know our intellectual and spiritual values are rooted in the source of all strength, a belief in a Supreme Being, and a law higher than our own. When it’s written, history of our time won’t dwell long on the hardships of the recent past. But history will ask — and our answer determine the fate of freedom for a thousand years — Did a nation born of hope lose hope? Did a people forged by courage find courage wanting? Did a generation steeled by hard war and a harsh peace forsake honor at the moment of great climactic struggle for the human spirit?”
It appears that Mrs. Clinton has emerged from her time in the woods still oblivious to the high cost of pandering. This is why Donald Trump’s greatest success is quite simply that he isn’t Hillary Clinton.
As ever, there is occasion to recall the immortal words of the great Chuck Norris during his 2008 Liberty University commencement address, “The Holy Spirit said to me, the only time you lose at something is when you don’t learn from that experience.”