"A+ for the end of the speech," she said. "But I think the beginning of the speech was a controversial way to start, honestly. Talking about 'the girl,' 'a girl.' Leading with this long story about him being attracted to an unnamed girl."
"Building her whole political story for the whole first half of the speech around her marriage to him. Unless there were worries that this was going to be too feminist a convention, that was not a feminist way to start. But the end of the speech was really good," she said.
"The top of the speech I found shocking and weird."
But I like Rebecca Traister's take on what Bill was doing:
It was a risk -- a big risk -- for an epically unfaithful man ... to begin his speech with the sentence, “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.” But he went for it, with a self-aware grin that suggested he knew what he was doing: challenging the perception of his wife as sexless and his marriage as an empty sham based only on a shared will to power, by laying out a picture of a flesh and blood woman for whom he fell hard, more than forty years ago. He was doing it, in part, by making the joke about his horn-dog impulses, and reminding people that he had once trained them on Hillary.And even for those who haven't been thinking of Hillary as "bloodless," she's simply older, with all that means in a culture in which actresses are deemed too old for female-lead roles at 25. (The response to Clinton this year sometimes makes me think of Amy Schumer's "Last Fuckable Day" sketch.) And Hillary is running against a man who's notorious for dumping wives as they age -- not merely cheating on them, as Bill has done to Hillary, but kicking them to the curb, which Bill hasn't done and clearly doesn't want to.
It’s ironic that, in politics and other male-dominated public spheres, one of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just.
Bill was talking about this spark of desire at just about the time the convention stopped being primarily about the Bernie Sanders youthquakers. I'm going to take a leap here and say that there's something sexual about the excesses of passion in the Bernie-or-Bust movement. I say this not because I agree with what Gloria Steinem said about the motives of young female Sanders supporters a few month ago:
And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie...Steinem saw a sexual component in Sanders support on the part of young women only, but on Monday night at the convention, tears were being shed by Berners of both genders. They weren't crying over romances made at campaign headquarters -- they were crying for Bernie. It reminded me of Beatlemania, the crowd shots at The Ed Sullivan Show. It wasn't just sex, but there was definitely sex.
There's a sexual element to Trump's campaign -- the aging playboy starts talking and middle-aged white men (and some women) start feeling their oats, in a menacing way. And recall what Mark Cuban has said about Trump on a number of occasions:
He’s like that guy who walks into the bar, and will say whatever it’ll take to get laid. Only in this case he’s not trying to fuck some girl. He’s trying to fuck the country.Hillary Clinton, this year, hasn't seemed capable of inspiring anything like this; the female solidarity in the 2008 campaign had more of a charge. So there was Bill last night, talking about young love -- and trying to build a bridge from that to Hillary's policy wonkery, which I think tickles him to this day.
Maybe it'll be a counter to the flaming youth of the Sanders movement, or the menacing middle-aged crazy in Trump Land. If so, it was a worthwhile effort.