PHILADELPHIA — “Liar!” someone shouted at Hillary Clinton.
She was standing onstage here, dressed immaculately in a white pantsuit with sleek blonde hair, aware that this moment would be replayed and reviewed for the duration of her life and beyond.
At last, she had made history, but even in this curated environment designed to celebrate her, she couldn’t escape her detractors.
Her speech was punctuated several times by outbursts, which drew immediate chants of “Hillary!” from her fans to drown out the detractors.
Much as she’s responded to the scandals that have plagued her campaign, Clinton ignored the disruptions and moved on.
As she did, the confetti and red, white and blue balloons dropped like clockwork. The fireworks erupted from the floor of the stage and from the ceiling. Bill Clinton carried a comically large blue balloon speckled with stars off stage, Hillary waited for one to fall into her outstretched arms, smiling at the ceiling.
But as she delivered a perfect speech that would make Tracy Flick proud and became the first woman in American history to accept a major party’s presidential nomination, Clinton could not escape her likability problem.
Liar—the word pierced through the arena.
In many ways that loaded word and the implications it contained eclipsed the historic nature of Clinton’s second, and most successful, presidential campaign.
She made no mention of the uphill battle she faces in nationwide polls which show her about as well-liked as the Zika virus in next week’s Olympics.
Clinton’s unfavorables are up to over 55 percent, while her favorables are up to only 39 percent. For context, Donald Trump’s unfavorables are only one percentage point higher.
She ignored that her convention, even more so than the Republican convention, was marked by open dysfunction and infighting due to her inability to satisfy the vocal progressive base which made up Bernie Sanders’s movement.
Still, she was undeterred, much like President Obama said she was in his soaring speech the night before.
She leaned confidently on the lectern, which glowed blue. She wouldn’t let it rattle her. She delivered a boilerplate speech that could have been given at any rally, in any state and at any time.
Hillary has admitted she’s not good at talking about herself. It was never more clear than on the night she made history.
“The truth is,” she said, “through all these years of public service, the ‘serve’ part has always come easier to me than the ‘public part.’”
She acknowledged the history she was making, but she didn’t seem to feel it.
“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come,” she said.
Her acknowledgement of her accomplishment was more like a box checked rather than an impassioned call to action.
“Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too—because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
Her best lines were attacks aimed at her orange, less-qualified opponent. They were lines with a shelf-life, a stark contrast to the speeches given about her by Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and Barack Obama—all of which were evergreen.
“I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me,” she said.
Nothing about the speech Clinton gave to commemorate making history as the first female nominee was memorable, other than the fact she was giving it.
If Trump is in technicolor, Clinton is in black and white. He is Howard Stern while she is NPR.
“Just ask yourself: You really think Donald Trump has the temperament to be commander and chief? Donald Trump can’t even handle a presidential campaign!” she said.
“A man you can bait with a tweet,” she said, “is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”
In fact, she said little about being the first woman in the history of the country to be a major party nominee.
She mentioned the glass ceiling which, eight years before, during her concession to Barack Obama, she claimed had 18 million cracks.
But she mostly stuck to her stump speech, glossing over the historic nature of her nomination and what separates her from the Republican candidate.
She played it safe, taking for granted the need for American men and women everywhere to be given a three-dimensional alternative to Trump’s candidacy.
“I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, and independents,” she said, though she delivered it like she didn’t recognize the distinction between rehearsal and history.
It was clear from her delivery and her cadence that this speech was a long time coming, maybe too long.