Hillary: No Class, and No Class Cheer
I did not return to my alma mater to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton deliver her commencement address to the Wellesley Class of 2017. Nor did I – in the manner of my more liberal alumnae friends here on the West Coast – opt to rise very early on the morning of Friday, May 26 to catch a live broadcast of it.
Even had I been so inclined, I figured I pretty well knew what Hillary would say in that much anticipated talk to a largely partisan crowd of graduates, their parents, and their well-wishers. To some extent, I was wrong.
Let's put it this way: the most incisive post-speech comment on Secretary Clinton's performance came from one of my Wellesley classmates, who said simply, "Hillary never did have any class." And on top of that, Mrs. Clinton was quick to admit to her blasé audience that her class didn't have any class cheer, either.
I'm not sure why Wellesley's most famous alumna bothered to bring this up. Perhaps it was an ice-breaker, certainly one preferable to her ensuing coughing fit, popped lozenge, and gulp of bottled water. It remains a mystery why and how Hillary's class had gotten away with such a singular lapse of tradition at a college so steeped in it. Surely back then one of Hillary's classmates – perhaps she herself – could have come up with a suitable cheer. Or had they all become young allies of radical Saul Alinsky, leaving them little to cheer about?
As for the "class cheer" itself, every entering Wellesley class is assigned a color – red, green, purple, or yellow. All the paraphernalia associated with a class – banners, beanies, pendants, logos, etc. – are done up in that particular shade. When alumnae return to their designated reunions, they march with their class in descending numerical order in a festive Alumnae Parade, sporting some item in their class color. It might be, say, a purple feather boa, strings of yellow glass beads, a red umbrella , or a bright blue tote bag.
At the conclusion of this colorful procession, each class, in turn, belts out its brief class cheer while marching past the college president. To avoid possible repercussions by using "real" class cheers, I have hastily composed the following to show how simple the exercise is, and how potentially unoriginal.
Suggestion for a "yellow" class:
1999 Wellesley, rah!
Go for gold, '99!
Dreams unfold, '99!
Hillary's class, like the one that graduated this year, is green. With all the ecological consciousness, the color offers countless possibilities. So it could have been:
1969 Wellesley, rah!
Keep Earth green, '69!
You get the drift. But Hillary didn't linger long on that bit of shared amusement. The rest of the laughs resulted from her blatant attacks on the man in the White House, even as he was representing our country in negotiations overseas. Was anyone really surprised by the body blows she leveled at Trump, campaign-style, in front of a sympathetic audience whose numbers outstripped those attending most of her campaign rallies?
Equally anticipated was Hillary's declaration of sheer joy at being back "to celebrate with the college." This wasn't quite true, of course, since she would much rather have been at the dedication of the new NATO headquarters in Brussels and then on to Sicily with her own entourage for the G-7 conference.
Whether she is running for office or from humiliation, returning to the bosom of Wellesley has always been a win-win situation for Hillary. Her hair isn't as long and straggly as it was 48 years ago, but she can still let it down on campus with a largely adoring crowd. Maybe that's why she made the inane comment about Wellesley coeds frequently changing their hairstyles as well as their majors. And there was the usual self-deprecation that reeked of self-pity. Mrs. Clinton will say anything to those who believe anything she says.
Inanity soon gave way to inanity. In a show of bitter defiance, Hillary probed the depths of her own recent disappointment, massaging it into a warning to young graduates about the dangers that lie ahead. There was far more grudge than grace in Hillary's remarks, more pessimism and discouragement for her own past than optimism and encouragement for the futures of her young listeners. And little evidence that she would be passing along the political baton anytime soon.
Rhetorically lacking in either humility or soul-searching, Hillary presented herself as an advocate for revenge. This time, the amorphous culprits were not "deplorables," but "trolls," who thwart the talents and ambitions of deserving women. To the list of the usual suspects blamed for her defeat – Comey, Russia, Trump, and misogyny – she added the "suppression" of voting in Wisconsin, a state she chose not to campaign in.
Were I a bright-eyed graduating senior, I would have preferred Hillary to talk more about, say, debt than regret. I would hope she'd embrace the immediate future with a message more positive than the impeachment of a sitting president whom Hillary and her clueless team had grossly underestimated.
Wellesley's new president, Paula Johnson, introduced Hillary as a woman who has always made the impossible possible. The opposite has more generally been the case. And the clearest example was Election 2016, when all signs pointed to the real possibility of her being the first female president of our country. Then came the impossibility – and the search for scapegoats ever since.
Hillary's longtime bond with her alma mater is perhaps best understood by parallels in her last and first commencement speeches. I was in the audience all those years ago when then-Hillary Rodham represented her graduating class by delivering a searing – and highly embarrassing – indictment of the commencement speaker, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts.
Brooke, a self-made man, a decorated war hero, and the first black U.S. senator popularly elected to the United States Senate since Reconstruction days, had been invited by the College to deliver that year's commencement address. None of this mattered to the student spokesperson, because Brooke was also a Republican. Hillary dissed the gentlemen and dismissed his vision of the world.
Now, almost a half-century later, Hillary Clinton's engine runs on the same self-serving fuel – not the balm of equality for race or gender or economic condition, but the polluting octane of progressive politics. And she is still determined to drive over anyone who gets in her way.
That considered, perhaps the Class of '69 could agree to this belated class cheer:
1969 Wellesley, rah!
Hear our anger as we vent!
Hillary for president!