Kerry Hits It Home

Kerry gave one of the best speeches of the convention, in my estimation. I’m not alone in noticing1. Kerry made points that might have helped him win election in 2004, if he hadn’t listened to his centrist-leaning advisors.

Now, if Mr. Kerry had stopped there this would have been an effective partisan speech — memorable in the moment but likely soon forgotten. But what John Kerry said at the end of his remarks took a very good speech into the pantheon of great speeches.

For more than two generations, one of the dominant narratives in American politics has been the notion of Democratic “weakness” on foreign policy. Democrats, the stereotype goes, do not love their country; they are not patriotic, they are as Jeane Kirkpatrick famously declared at the G.O.P. convention in 1984, blame America-firsters. And for years, Democrats have struggled to fight back; often choosing political artifice over impassioned persuasion. But, last night in Denver, John Kerry fought back:

How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy, doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn’t put America first.

Pathetic, insulting and desperate are not the words that Democrats frequently use on the campaign trail and particularly not in the context of national security. As for the idea that community service belongs in the same lexicon as military service … well that’s something you are even less likely to hear.

[From Kerry Hits It Home – Campaign Stops – 2008 Elections – Opinion – New York Times Blog]

Crooks and Liars has video of the speech.

Its About Judge Ment

For a good laugh, check out James Taranto’s analysis. I’m not sure what planet Mr. Taranto is from, especially when he writes sentences like: Kerry: President Obama and Vice President Biden will shut down Guantanamo, respect the Constitution, and make clear once and for all, the United States of America does not torture, not now, not ever.

President Bush has repeatedly said that America does not torture. Can we really afford four more years of the same?

Right, the waterboarding and stress positions are only enhanced interrogation techniques, and not torture. Why? Well, because we’ve just redefined the meaning of the word, torture, to be whatever we are not doing to prisoners. If we do it, it is no longer defined as torture2 Taranto continues in this vein:

In his 2004 speech Kerry did discuss terrorism at length, but he said not a word about global warming, and he mentioned AIDS only in the context of demanding federal funding for stem-cell research. If these things are so important, why is he only getting around to telling us now?

Pretty weak, Mr. Taranto, pretty weak. Let us count the number of mentions of global warming and AIDS in John McCain’s convention, shall we?

Tom Schaller of Salon briefly interviewed John Kerry yesterday morning:

Thursday morning outside the Brown Palace Hotel where he and his wife are staying, John Kerry was helping get Teresa’s stuff packed into a car for her departure today from Denver — she’s leaving, but he says he “isn’t going anywhere.” The Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee is fresh off his widely hailed evisceration of John McCain in a speech last night to the delegates — arguably a better speech, given the relative expectations for the two men, than Bill Clinton’s. (The sad part is that the networks and even MSNBC didn’t run it in its entirety, live.)

Kerry was generous enough to take a few moments of time while extracting his very snappy bike out of the trunk — apparently, he is planning to stretch those long legs today — to speak with Salon. He showed more of that fire from last night, leavened with some self-effacing critiques of his own failures in 2004. And though I can’t be sure who he had in mind as referents when he mentioned “some partisans” unable to get over Hillary Clinton’s defeat, I could swear between the lines I heard the names Paul Begala and James Carville.

I liked this answer to the question, “Where was this fiery Kerry in 2004”3

Well, I feel like — no, on the contrary, I was that John Kerry four years ago … particularly in the last six weeks I was. I won three debates against the sitting president. And I think that I’m proud of what we did. We should have taken those Swift boat attacks on more directly earlier. We just made a miscalculation. The calculation was that we had put the truth out and people saw through that kind of attack. The miscalculation is that if you put a lot of money behind a lie, there are some people who don’t [see through it]. And that’s where we made a mistake. We should have put more money behind the truth.

And I think the Obama campaign has learned that, and they’re not going to give any quarter on these smears, lies and attacks. And I think that’s what’s important. You know, there are plenty of places where I let fire and let loose, like I did last night — believe me. If you go back and look at my convention speech it was a strong speech, well received at the time. But people tend to blur that and they don’t see it in the context of the attacks that came out afterwards. Yeah, we could have done a better job at making certain that we absolutely murdered those [attacks]. Believe me, part of the message I was sending last night was I learned that lesson — and never again.

More reactions to Kerry’s speech compiled by Chris Suellentrop: The Kerry Surprise

  1. though, apparently none of the major networks carried the speech, only CSPAN []
  2. which is ridiculous, of course []
  3. paraphrased []

Historic Event for the Democratic Party

I too was moved despite myself. I realize the whole Democratic convention1 is scripted within inches of its life, but witnessing the Democratic Party actually nominate a black man for President was something I never would have expected happen, at least in my life time.

This evening, though, I watched something happen that I was solid sure would never happen in my lifetime, or probably my children’s lifetimes: A major American political party just nominated an African American as its candidate for the presidency of the United States — the big job, the Leader of the Free World, the whole enchilada.

Watching it on C-SPAN, I saw a closeup shot of an African American delegate after Nancy Pelosi banged the gavel down. She was hugging the delegate next to her (a white woman) And the tears were pouring down her cheeks.

I dunno, I guess that’s when it hit me — the enormity of what I’d just seen. It may not mean as much to you youngsters (get off my lawn!) but for someone of my age, who grew up in the dying days of segregation, who still remembers the colored and white drinking fountains and the monochrome lunch counters, who saw Washington DC burn the night Martin Luther King was killed — who, in some sense, has essentially spent his whole life living in the shadow of American racism, it was completely mindblowing. The party of Jefferson Davis and George Wallace (but also of FDR and Bobby Kennedy) had just chosen a black man as its standard bearer — and the Gods willing, as the country’s next leader.

[From billmon at Daily Kos: Really Proud]

I’m not quite old enough to remember colored and white drinking fountains, but I did live in Burkeville, Texas2 so witnessed first-hand plenty of vestiges of the Old South (the bone-crushingly racist South, if you don’t know)). I’m similar to billmon also in that I have conflicted feelings towards the Democratic Party: I am much more left than most party leaders, and yet I was proud of the Democrats last night.

  1. like all conventions, just wait till the Republican show starts! []
  2. Jasper, Texas was the nearest town, yes, that Jasper, Texas []

Hillary Diehards in the Media

Slightly more on the Hillary-Heads, from today’s Altercation:

this story from Scott Lindlaw at the Associated Press was headlined “Pelosi admits Democrats not yet united.” Here is the entirety of Pelosi’s quotes in the ensuing story:

  • Asked by reporters about female voters’ comfort level with Obama, Pelosi said women show a strong preference for Obama in public opinion polls. A “gender gap” in Obama’s favor had emerged “even before the convention, and even before the complete reconciliation that we need,” she said.
  • “The nomination is decided, we have a vice president, we’re going to work together and go forward,” she said.
  • “But to stay wallowing in all of this is not productive,” she said. “So we can talk about this forever, or we can talk about how we’re going to take our message to the American people, to women all across America, to see the distinctions” between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain.”
  • You know what? This is like a yesterday room,” she told the reporters. “We are going into the future. What did I walk into, a time capsule?”

[From Media Matters – Altercation by Eric Alterman]

Seems as if the Hillary Diehards are either a Republican concoction, a media concoction, or both. I love the final Pelosi response, I hope it becomes a meme for this election season.


The Hillary Diehards

“What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News” (Eric Alterman)

Eric Alterman doesn’t think much of the Hillary Diehards, nor much of the media idiots who keep interviewing the pathetically small minority of Hill-Raisers who would even consider voting for John Anti-Choice McCain. Dr. Alterman writes:

Personally, I think that people who are “still angry” about Hillary Clinton and are considering “withholding their support” from Obama are moral and political idiots in exactly the same vein as those people who voted for Ralph Nader in swing states in 2000 were. More so, actually. The Democrats had a primary, and Obama won it fair and square. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t do any of the things that Hillary Clinton diehards are are so angry about. He just won and she lost. That’s how these things are supposed to work.

These Hillary diehards act as if they are making some sort of point, but the only point they are making is that they would prefer to see John McCain be President–and run a government that is opposed to everything they say they favor (here’s where the Nader comparison comes in) because they think politics is a form of therapy rather than a matter of compromise, coalition and, ultimately, victorious combination.

If you talk to one of these people for more than two minutes, they immediately cease to make any sense. But the press doesn’t talk to them for more than two minutes at a time because all they need is that one self-serving, conflict-building quote to give them what they need to support their big–and, right now, virtually only–story line. What’s more, the Obama people are under orders–quite understandably–not to anger these nut cases, because, sad to say, you can’t win an election without stupid people voting for you. So nobody says it aloud, but everyone says it privately. And that, rather than what you hear on your TVs all day, is the real news of this place, so far. And so the charade continues until we have some real news

[Click to read more The Hillary Diehards]


All I can add is thank pasta for CSPAN, otherwise I couldn’t stand to watch more than 3 minutes of the Democratic National Convention. Those fact-free yammering television commentators are nauseating.


Bill Casey and Abortion

I didn’t realize this myself. I had read so many times that Bill Casey was refused a speaking platform at the 1992 Democratic Convention for his anti-abortion views that I assumed this was not in dispute. I was wrong.

For the past 16 years, news organizations have been repeating an obvious falsehood about the 1992 Democratic convention. According to countless news reports — in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, ABC, NPR, Time, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and on and on and on — then-Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey was denied a speaking role at the convention because he opposed abortion rights.

That’s false. And it’s obviously false.

Here’s all you need to know in order to know with absolute certainty that Casey’s views on abortion were not the reason he was not given a speaking role: that very same Democratic convention featured speeches by at least eight people who shared Casey’s anti-choice position, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley Jr., Sens. John Breaux and Howell Heflin, and five governors.

[From Media Matters – “Media Matters”; by Jamison Foser]

The reason Casey was not afforded a prime time speaking position was that he refused to endorse Bill Clinton, and wanted to do a Zell Miller spew-fest, trashing the Democratic Party for various reasons, mostly having to do with abortion. Strange how that got twisted.

People involved in planning the 1992 Democratic convention have long maintained that Casey was not given an opportunity to speak because he refused to endorse Bill Clinton, who was to be nominated at the convention. That’s what they said at the time, too. The Washington Post’s first report on Casey’s request for speaking time included a quote from the Democratic National Committee’s press secretary: “anyone who is speaking at the convention will have endorsed Governor Clinton by the time of the convention and Governor Casey has not.”

It should be noted that it wasn’t merely that Casey hadn’t gotten around to endorsing Clinton. He was arguing that Clinton had only a “flyspeck” of support and that the party should consider nominating someone else at the convention.

Of course, only those involved in the decisions about who would speak at the convention know for certain if Casey’s refusal to endorse Clinton was the reason he wasn’t given a speaking role. But we do know that as soon as Casey asked for one, the Democratic Party publicly indicated that his failure to endorse Clinton would prevent him from speaking. If the convention organizers were making a bluff, Casey could have called it by simply endorsing Clinton. He chose not to. Instead, he began denouncing the party for having a “radical, extreme position” in favor of abortion rights and claiming it was bowing to “the radical far left.” Members of his own delegation were quoted saying he was “being a jerk” and said they were considering removing him as head of the delegation.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Casey didn’t merely want to speak at the convention. He wanted to devote his entire speech to opposing the Democratic Party on a single issue. After the convention ended, Casey released the text of the speech he would have delivered had he been given the chance. The speech ran more than 1,000 words — and not one of those words was “Clinton.” Nor was the word “Gore” mentioned. Casey’s speech did not include a single word of praise or support for the ticket being nominated at the convention he wanted to address. Instead, it accused the party of being “far out of the mainstream and on the extreme fringe” on abortion. That’s what the entire speech was about: disagreeing with, and insulting, the Democratic Party on abortion.

Barack Obama had better vet Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton’s speeches pretty carefully. Pretty damn carefully.
Jamison Foser continues