Clinton: "The tide is turning"

In a speech, Hillary Clinton celebrates her victory in Pennsylvania, but a cloud of doom still hangs over her.

By Alex Koppelman

Published April 23, 2008 3:09AM (EDT)

Make no mistake -- Hillary Clinton's speech Tuesday night was a victory speech, there's no doubt about that. But watching it was, sometimes, a surreal experience. Because, as she spoke, Clinton had to know two things: One, that her actual margin of victory had not yet been calculated, and two, that on Wednesday morning she will wake up and still be mired just about impossibly behind Barack Obama in the race for the Democratic nomination. And even if she didn't directly acknowledge that, during her speech Clinton didn't exactly seem to be ignorant of her situation.

Still, she did take the opportunity to bask somewhat in the glow of victory, and to take a few potshots -- milder than the ones her campaign has engaged in generally, if not especially subtle -- at her rival.

"Today, here in Pennsylvania, you made your voices heard. And, because of you, the tide is turning," Clinton told her supporters. Then she launched into a theme that's becoming common for the Clinton campaign, if a little discordant. "We were up against a formidable opponent who outspent us 3-to-1. He broke every spending record in this state trying to knock us out of the race. Well, the people of Pennsylvania had other ideas today," Clinton said. (Hillary Clinton, once declared the inevitable nominee and still with the support of Terry McAuliffe, becomes the underfunded underdog beaten back by a money machine? Who saw that one coming a year ago?)

There were some good, sharp moments in the speech, though, moments in which she managed to deliver both an inspiring message and a jab in Obama's ribs. More than once, she made clever plays on Obama's campaign themes, as in the conclusion of her speech, when she said:

For me, in the end, the question isn't whether we can keep America's promise; it's whether we will keep America's promise.

So let me ask you -- so let me ask you, will we, will we once again be the can-do nation, the nation that defies the odds and does the impossible?

Will we break the barriers and open the doors and lift up all of our people?

Will we reach out to the world and lead by our power of our ideals again?

Will we take back the White House and take back our country?

I believe with all of my heart that, together, we will turn promises into action, words will become solutions, hope will become reality. So my answer to any who doubt is: Yes, we will.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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