Review: An Evening with Hillary Clinton (?!)

I acquired by means beyond the scope of this post, tickets to see Hillary Clinton on Friday evening. So off to a cold Darling Harbour and the International Convention Centre theatre for what was billed as “An Evening With Hillary Clinton”. I don’t know, but to me a title like that implies she’d be mixing songs with show biz anecdotes but I had a sneaking suspicion that we wouldn’t get either.

The theatre in question is vast and cavernous. A queue through security and a long hike up multiple escalators included a giant kaiju-sized projection of the former Secretary of State looming over the heads of the crowd like a nightmare of a Republican who had spent the night binge watching Blade Runner and Democrat conventions.

I’ll repeat myself- the theatre was big. I was perched up in seats that had an excellent view of the ceiling and a view of the stage that was miniscule. I shouldn’t complain, as I personally hadn’t spent much but apparently the cheapest seats were listed at $200 (AU). I don’t how many people can fit in that theatre but ‘lots’ would be an understatement – clearly thousands. I suppose the economics of such a famous speaker make smaller venues unfeasible but for much of the audience this event was essentially ‘watch Hillary Clinton on a giant TV uncomfortably but techincally you are in the same room’.

There was a moving Welcome to Country, a nice children’s choir, a pointless reprise of the video narrated by Morgan Freeman from the 2016 nomination convention and assorted waffle before the main event.

Hillary early on asserted that she had spent much of her career having to be careful about what she said and how she said it but now she wasn’t bound by such concerns. Unfortunately that didn’t make much difference. Clearly she is a very capable speaker, with a wealth of experience but there were no surprises, no new insights and even the anecdotes felt very carefully scripted.

The speech at a lectern was followed by an interview on comfy chairs by (to the surprise of the audience) former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. But, again, it wasn’t anything that provided any new insights – even some of the personal anecdotes had already been told in the video at the start. It was all very safe and measured.

Fair enough, Hillary Clinton’s strength is her tenacity and experience as a politician rather than as a political commentator of as an ideological leader. She has nudged her middle-ground leftwards over the years but she is only radical in terms of the deeply reactionary forces she has been up against.

Still, I think I’d have rather heard Julia Gillard speak more of for Hilary to have been asked more challenging questions.

I’ve not much else to say. I’m glad Hilary Clinton remains in the public eye but I can’t say she was a particularly interesting speaker. I’m glad I didn’t pay $200 for a ticket.


15 thoughts on “Review: An Evening with Hillary Clinton (?!)

  1. “… a giant kaiju-sized projection of the former Secretary of State looming over the heads of the crowd like a nightmare of a Republican who had spent the night binge watching Blade Runner and Democrat conventions.”
    I think I love you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ha ha. My sisters went to see a similarly-named “An Evening with Michelle Obama” which was spookily this your description, right down to the arena venue, comfy chairs, and scripted “conversation” with the added insult of having MO on the stage for, apparently, just fifteen minutes. Good job for them if people want to pay that much to breathe the same air; as for me, I’m takin’ that money to the used book store or tossing it in my travel fund — both options more edifying.

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    1. The thing is I’ve seen quite a lot of speakers in Sydney and enjoyed many of them much more than I expected (eg Stephen Pinker, Salman Rushdie) but writers usually have something new to say I guess, even ones you disagree with.


      1. I heard Allan Ginsberg — I guess I’ll call it “talk” – once. We literally sat on the floor around his feet like one imagines the 1970s scene would have been. I haven’t thought of that trippy night in ages, man. Good times, great town.

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      2. My life has been a little bit Forrest-Gump-like TBH. My six-degrees-of-separation chart is impressive (one degree from Castro and Joe Strummer both).


      3. I saw Ginsberg once. It was at the final concert of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue, at Hughes Stadium, Colorado State University, 1976. It was a nasty, rainy, muddy day. I was walking around the far end of the stadium, and somebody was on stage speaking words instead of doing music. I have no idea what he was saying—it was hard enough making out the musical parts of the show—but I found out who he was, so I’ve always been able to tell people I saw him in person that one time.

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  3. I wonder how much these sorts of unsurprising, uninspiring interviews and chat-withs depending on the interviewer (and/or on conditions set by the speaker).

    I was a great fan of James Lipton’s interviews for the Actor’s Studio, which he did for about 10 years, largely because I was surprised time and time again by how interesting or surprising I found actors he interviewed whom I had never thought of as particularly interesting. A key feature of those interviews, though, were that the actors themselves often expressed surprise at the questions or at the info Lipton uncovered in his preparation. Maybe HRC doesn’t want to be surprised by her interviewer? Or maybe she is SO thoroughly dissected on the world stage by now that there are no possible surprises left?


    1. Probably both of those things. I mean obviously she wasn’t going to open up about Bill’s issues or reveal some hidden issue in the Obama administration but I thought there might be some insights or provocative ideas.


  4. Sorry to pick a nit, but the adjectival form of “Democrat” is “Democratic”, e.g. Democratic Convention. Republicans apparently find this too tough to remember, so this error has passed into wider use.

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    1. The widespread use of “Democrat” instead of the correct “Democratic” by Republicans is intended as an insult (emphasis on “rat”) because Republicans mostly behave like eight-year olds.

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