It is traditional for the president to have American heroes to introduce at the end of the State of the Union address. Senator Clinton, who aspires to give State of the Union addresses, had the son of a fallen hero sitting with her Tuesday night. Gerald Baker, the Brit columnist, noticed something revealing:

“She arranged for the son of a New York policeman sick with lung cancer to be there. As it happened, the man’s father died that day, and the son’s grief became a sad and very visible coda to the event.

“This little incident, the skilfully choreographed exploitation of a human tragedy, the cynically manipulated deployment of public sympathy in service of a personal political end, offered a timely insight into the character of the politician who this week launched the most anticipated presidential election campaign in modern history.

“There are many reasons people think Mrs. Clinton will not be elected president. She lacks warmth; she is too polarising a figure; the American people don’t want to relive the psychodrama of the eight years of the Clinton presidency.

“But they all miss this essential counterpoint. As you consider her career this past 15 years or so in the public spotlight, it is impossible not to be struck, and even impressed, by the sheer ruthless, unapologetic, unshameable way in which she has pursued this ambition, and confirmed that there is literally nothing she will not do, say, think or feel to achieve it. Here, finally, is someone who has taken the black arts of the politician’s trade, the dissembling, the trimming, the pandering, all the way to their logical conclusion.”