Facing a do-or-die primary in Texas, Hillary Clinton delivered a great speech at the Houston Presidential Energy Summit tonight.
I was there and thought she did a terrific job even though the audience was probably smaller than she’d hoped to see in the 4th largest city in America.
From the 4th row, Hillary – who arrived at 7:30 PM, 1.5 hours late – looked and sounded energetic at the end of a long day. The campaign trail has been difficult for her lately and the once-inevitable fact of her election has been reduced to something rather less than probable.
Still, Hillary was the only major candidate to speak at the Summit held in the city that many call the energy capital of the world (Ron Paul was here earlier). This commitment, kept after starting her morning in Ohio, demonstrates to me once again that she is a more discerning, capable, and practical candidate than Barack Obama.
In truth, both candidates could do better when it comes to placing the proper degree of importance on energy policy. As Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle notes, energy has not been a major topic of discussion among the candidates for the Democratic nomination. Republicans have done a better job of acknowledging the obvious link between national security and a stable energy supply.
Hillary’s speech was targeted to the energy industry audience that had paid to attend the summit and focused on the similarities between the aerospace industry and the immeasurably important role it has played in the development of the American high tech industry and the new challenges faced by the energy industry.
Differentiating herself with Obama regarding space exploration, Clinton said that she would accelerate development of the space shuttle’s replacement to ensure that America continues to lead in space and does allow "a ten year period in which Americans will have to hitch a ride from Chinese or Russian-made vehicles".
That’s a great decision to make because it shows that she understands what real hope is: the dream of moving forward and the opportunity to do so.
In contrast to her opponent, Hillary Clinton in person is a figure that makes you believe in her because her vision of hope is one of working toward a better future and her idea of change is the end result of years or even generations of n nation rolling up its collective sleeves and simply making it happen.
America must take the initiative in the energy industry, Clinton says, because energy security is essential to our nations future and that of our children. We face challenges in regard to our economy because of high energy prices here and now, in energy security because we are importing the vast majority of our oil, much of it from countries whose interests could not be less aligned with ours if the devil had planned it so, and in regard to the environment.
"I think that we can all agree – finally – that climate change is a real threat," Clinton says. But is that really true? The science is not yet conclusive. Even so, Hillary clearly believes that it is and has huge plans to revolutionize the energy industry, plans that will cost a lot of money.
To achieve her goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90% and cutting oil imports by 2/3 – Hillary would create a National Energy Council and do away with tax advantages currently enjoyed by energy companies. This money and more, to the tune of $50B, would, she says, subsidize the move to clean energy industries.
Introducing Mrs. Clinton, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Houston’s representative in the House, said:
She believes in the genius of America.
She’s not afraid in discussing fossil fuels. She’s not afraid in discussing alternatives and renewables. She’s not afraid of Texas and Houston or the fact that we are the energy capital of the world.
Proving that, Clinton told the pro-energy industry crowd that she was going to take a significant amount of money away from oil companies. She also challenged these business leaders to do more, to become true energy companies instead of merely petroleum companies, and to lead innovation by cooperating with the public sector and higher education with a sense of urgency. "We can do this," Clinton says, and when listening one can’t help but believe her.
Now, back at the keyboard, it’s seems dubious to me that the Green Corps is going to do much to make American a healthier country. And the 5 million jobs that Hillary plans to create in the green energy industry seem to me to be funded more on the backs of the oil industry than on a sustainable demanded-driven momentum of their own. Cannibalization, in other words, and not sustainable.
But when Hillary compares the importance of energy security – which is perhaps the most important issue facing America today – to the challenge Dwight Eisenhower faced when Sputnik was launched, it shows that Mrs. Clinton understands the true nature of what American is and how it should respond to a crisis. This, in contrast to Barack Obama’s promise of hope in the form of government solutions to private problems. Real hope is the chance to accomplish something important for one’s self, which is quite different than having the problem solved for you. Clinton and McCain both understand this. Obama, I think, does not.
On this point, Hillary had this to say about Obama’s constant one-note call for change:
The world is changing and we will have to change with it. But the question is, do we lead the change or does the change lead us? You know, all this talk about change in our campaign leaves out a very important qualifier. Change is going to happen whether we do anything or not. So how do we both master change and ensure that the change which occurs actually produces progress? I believe that we can, with the right commitment, break the bonds of the old energy economy and turn this energy challenge into one of the greatest economic opportunities in our history.
The enormous undertaking of creating a secure energy supply for the future will require a president who is willing to take on big problems with enthusiasm, who is determined, and will not stop short of an important goal. America’s brilliant success in space and high technology did not happen by hoping for it or by accident, Hillary says. "It happened because we made up our minds to do it." Period.
Speaking about Senator John Glenn, Hillary shows what true hope really looks like:
We were talking about space and energy and I was struck by how he still has that twinkle in his eye as though he is that young astronaut that just broke down all of the barriers and lifted our hearts. There are so many young Americans waiting to be called to do the same, to give us the energy future we deserve. It is up to us to send out that call. Is is up to America once again to lead the way.
Hillary Clinton is the better candidate for the Democratic party’s nomination.
I had the chance to shake Mrs. Clinton’s hand after she finished her speech – one of the many benefits of working for such a notable publication as the PoliGazette – and in that moment I couldn’t help but think that, if not for the baggage that she carries with her, I would like to vote for Hillary in the general election.
Unfortunately, both Bill and the Democratic members of Congress are still there, now that the spell has been broken.