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.