Opinion

Joan Vennochi

Clinton proves she is the woman ‘in the arena’

Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd as she arrives on stage during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,  )
Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
Hillary Clinton acknowledges the crowd as she arrives on stage during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,

All she had to do was give Americans a chance to like her.

It was that simple and that difficult.

Hillary Clinton walked onto the stage and savored her ground-breaking moment: the first time a woman from a major party has been nominated for president.

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She acknowledged her biggest challenge. For all her years on the public stage: “I know some people just don’t get me.”

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At heart, Clinton is a plain-talking policy wonk. In this moment of greatest triumph, she stayed true to self. Donald Trump, she said, “doesn’t like talking about plans. I love talking about mine.”

But this moment, like others in Clinton’s career, went less than smoothly. Protestors broke out in chants. They were drowned out by cheers of “Hillary!” It gave the hall a raw, raucous, slightly surreal feel.

But Clinton did what she always does. She didn’t didn’t crack or falter. She was, as President Obama put it, the woman “in the arena.” So many times in her life, she said, “I had to pick myself up” and move forward. “You have to stand up to bullies,” she declared, and could have been talking about Trump or the protesters.

Compared to “Make America Great Again,” her campaign theme is modest. “Stronger Together.” Work together. She made the case for a president as a “doer,” who can create economic opportunity through concrete policy, not blustery rhetoric — the “change maker” described by Bill Clinton.

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America will have to choose. A president who spent her life in public service, where mistakes are harshly judged. Or a divisive disrupter — who also made mistakes — and who now brings political debate down to the lowest common denominator.

The Hillary haters won’t change their minds. But others should be open to taking another look at the woman who willed herself onto that stage.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.