Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, to deliver the commencement speech for the school’s 2017 graduates. Forty-eight years ago, as class president and graduating senior, she delivered a commencement address there. It made news at the time because she criticized a U.S. senator who spoke just before she did. Her remarks were off-the-cuff that day, but established her as a firebrand and hinted at a future in politics.
On Friday, Clinton brought some of that same fire, taking some veiled shots at her former 2016 campaign rival. In one passage, though she mentioned neither man by name, she seemed to predict President Donald Trump’s fate by likening him to another American president who was impeached: Richard Nixon. Discussing the mood of young Americans during the Nixon era, Clinton said, “We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.” The line drew a clear parallel to Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Clinton, though, celebrated that generation’s resolve.
“But here’s what I want you to know,” she added. “We got through that tumultuous time, and once again began to thrive as our society changed laws and opened the circle of opportunity and rights wider and wider for more Americans. We revved up the engines of innovation and imagination. We turned back a tide of intolerance and embraced inclusion. The ‘we’ who did those things were more than those in power who wanted to change course. It was millions of ordinary citizens, especially young people, who voted, marched, and organized.”
Of course, not all of Clinton’s remarks were so serious. She took the opportunity to poke a little fun at her election loss — and how she’s dealt with it. “Long walks in the woods, organizing my closets, right?” Clinton told the crowd. Then, she quipped: “I won’t lie. Chardonnay helped a little, too.”