Hillary Clinton Wellesley Speech
Photo: Getty Images

In delivering the commencement speech at her alma mater, Wellesley College, today, Hillary Clinton Went There.

 

The former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate broke her relative silence about Donald Trump's young administration, comparing him to Richard Nixon, calling his budget a "con" based on a "trillion-dollar mathematical lie" and smacking down the concept of alternative facts.

 

In 1969, 21-year-old Clinton was chosen by her classmates to be the first student to deliver a speech at commencement. In her remarks today, she threw back to that time in 1969, saying of her classmates, "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." She had to pause midstream because of loud applause.

 

Some other choice zingers:

— On the Republican budget: "It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hardworking people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle-class life."

— On the intent behind coining "alternative facts:" "When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society. That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality. Not just our laws and our rights and our budgets, but our thoughts and beliefs."

— On Trump's fanning of conspiracy theories and untruths: "You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for ten seconds. It will hit you right in the face. People denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracies theories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. Drumming up rampant fear about undocumented immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the poor. Turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds."

— On Trump's infamous epithet during a presidential debate: "In the years to come, there will be trolls galore online and in person. Eager to tell you that you don't have anything worthwhile to say or anything meaningful to contribute. They may even call you a nasty woman." Clinton quoted her predecessor in the Senate, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as saying, "everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts."

The majority of Clinton's speech was a more traditional commencement address, encouraging young women to take action in the workforce, politics and issues that matter to them. Nevertheless, her remarks were received with dropped jaws on Twitter.

"She went for it," said Andrea Mitchell of NBC News at the conclusion of Clinton's remarks. "But many people were messaging: Where was this speechwriter during 2016?"