Collins, solo

In “Hillary’s Really Good Day” Ms. Collins says a speech laid out voters’ choices: A woman who knows foreign policy or a man who thinks the Miss Universe pageant in Russia is foreign policy experience.  Here she is:

Hillary Clinton made a great speech this week. Not what we were expecting, which was just a sturdy slog through the summer. Even though it was a policy address on national security that centered on the listing of six points, it was a super performance.

The bottom line was that America can choose her, or give the nuclear codes to a guy no sane person would put in charge of policing a parking lot.

And it drove the presumptive Republican nominee nuts: “After what she said about me today in her phony speech, that was a phony speech, that was a Donald Trump hit job,” he howled to a rally in California. “I will say this! Hillary Clinton has to go to jail, O.K.? She has to go to jail — has to go! That was a phony hit job! She’s guilty as hell!”

It was a little less controlled than Trump’s Twitter response: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn’t even look presidential!” But equally deep.

On Thursday Clinton strode out after a rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which was a nice change after months and months and months of Katy Perry’s greatest hits. “Roar” seemed like a good idea when Clinton first opened her campaign, but then she got all those complaints about how she was doing too much roaring. About boring details. She managed to become a candidate who was simultaneously criticized for yelling and for putting people to sleep.

But that was before. On Thursday, standing in front of enough American flags to make it seem like Banner Day on the Home Shopping Network, Clinton took on Trump’s history when it came to foreign affairs. She was clear and forceful and occasionally funny.

“He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia,” she sniped. Her friends have moaned forever that her sense of humor doesn’t come across on stage. This week it emerged. And Trump did say the thing about Miss Universe.

Good as the speech was, it can’t be the end of the conversation. While Clinton’s experience as secretary of state is certainly a plus, her longtime hawkishness should be a minus. She needs to tell the country what she’s learned about the limits to American power, and if she isn’t forced to during this campaign, that’ll be one more thing we can hold against Donald Trump forever.

But you could see why this particular speech, which was really one large thought about her Republican opponent, was not going to be the venue where she parsed over her own record. Making the case against Trump as a wildly dangerous threat to American security is both easy and hard. It’s easy because he’s said so many crazy things and hard because he’s usually also said the exact opposite.

A Washington Post fact-check on Clinton’s claim that Trump said “more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia,” referred to an exchange with Anderson Cooper on CNN that went in part like this:

Cooper: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

Trump: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

Cooper: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?

Trump: No, not nuclear weapons. …

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent,” Clinton said. “They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.” She then proceeded to go into, um, details. Like his enthusiasm for a trade war, and flirtation with the idea of defaulting on the national debt. Speaking to voters who sometimes reject Democrats as lacking in patriotism, she asked, in effect, what they were doing hanging around with a guy who says America isn’t great.

There’s no reason this should stop with foreign affairs. If Clinton could do the same thing on the domestic front, she could pulverize Trump on his insane tax plan, his wildly erratic positions on health care and his complete absence of any thoughts whatsoever about education. In the process, she could unroll an agenda of her own that’s smart and responsible, but also large and exciting.

Hillary Clinton is about to become the first woman ever to win a major party nomination for president, but the getting there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. Polls keep showing that voters don’t like her. Sensible Americans worry that voters are shrugging off what should be career-shattering details about Trump’s background, like the fact that he ran a sleazy continuing-education school that wheedled senior citizens out of their savings.

He’s diverting, and a lot of people seem prepared to look past almost anything for some entertainment and all-purpose anger. Clinton will never be as much fun to talk about.

But she’s always been a learner, and this week suggests that after all these years, she can still become a better public speaker. Even if she doesn’t, she did a great job of reminding everyone that there are more important things.

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