Damn. I hate it when my technology fails and deletes my post. So I've got to recreate my post on Kerry's speech. Here goes.
Having watched so much of the convention, I've overdosed on the references to Kerry's Vietnam service. But, most of the country isn't a junkie and hasn't watched so much coverage. So I suspect that the constant repetition I experiences was the right decision for the prime time audience. BUT, I thought Kerry's opening was a bit ham handed. "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting to duty." Then a salute that wasn't exactly crisp. Ah well. I really want him to knock it out of the park, so It seemed a bit ham handed. His recognition of his competitors during the primaries and thanks for their unity in the party was gracious.
Overall, I think he did a good job. He was definitive in his position on national security, defense, and the economy. I was surprised by his call for finishing the effort to bring equality for women. It's been forever since I've heard a male politician mention this when he wasn't addressing a women's group. His recollection of 9/11 was somehow very effective and brought tears to my eyes. "'It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us. I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way."
I'm glad he's addressing the fact that he sees complexities in the world. It's one of the things that really drives me crazy - that somehow a black and white approach to the most complex issues is somehow deemed to be a strength. "...some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so." That's effective, I think.
He slammed Bush and his administration very directly with this:
I will be a commander oin chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a vice president who wi9ll not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually ypholds the Constitution of the United States....."My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high...
He was very clear in his position on national security. A couple of notable quotes: "I will wage this war with the lessons I learned from war." "I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president." "Strength is more than tough words."
He highlighted the following:
- We need to have a plan for winning the peace before we go to war.
- We need to have credibility in order to bring other nations to the table.
- He is unquestionably willing to use force when necessary.
- He is committed to adding 40,000 troops to the military but not in Iraq - in other areas we've stripped troops from.
- He will never give other countries veto rights over our use of the military.
- He plans to double the special forces that fight terrorists.
- He is committed to providing complete and modern equipment to our troops.
- He intends to end what he called the "back door draft of the national guard and reservists."
- He underscored his desire to make the country looked up to and not just feared, saying that we need a strong military and strong alliances.
- He thinks it's critical that we lead the world in an effort to prevent nuclear proliferation.
He didn't spend as much time on homeland security but did make it clear that there's work to be done, citing the lack of inspection of 95% of containers coming into our ports, the lack of security at nuclear and chemical facilities in the country, the need to fund our first responders, i.e. fire fighters and police.
He spent some concentrated time, and sprinkled throughout his speech, the truth that questioning or disagreeing with the government doesn't make you unpatriotic. That disagreeing with conservatives doesn't mean you have no values. "When Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism. It is the heart and soul of patriotism." I like that he saidthat the flag belongs to all of us and not to a president or a party. I like that the democrats are reclaiming their place as patriots and Americans. Aggressively.
I particularly liked this quote: "Values spoken without actions taken are just slogans." Yup. YUP, YUP, YUP! He's speaking directly to the part of me that is tired of the hypocrisy of words over deeds, of being labeled un-American for not agreeing with the administration, for questioning the leadership we have. And further on he subtly redefined family values by saying the real family is the American family. I think this could be a powerful retort to the Republicans, but it was too short to get traction.
He introduced his plans for the economy, education, health care, and energy with some detail:
- The Economy
- New incentives to revive manufacturing.
- Incentives for technology.
- Close outsourcing tax loopholes and credit companies that don't outsource.
- Trade and compete in the world but level the playing field.
- Return to fiscal responsibility - cut the deficit in half in 4 years by ending corporate welfare. Adopt a "pay as you go" approach to budgets.
- Cut middle class taxes
- Rreduce the tax burden on small business
- Roll back the tax cuts on those making over 200K a year.
- Smaller class size
- Treat teachers like professionals
- Provide tax credits for college
- Invest in head start.
- Health Care
- Affordable and accessible for all.
- Crack down on the waste in the system.
- Save $1K/year on premiums.
- Doctors make medical decisions, not companies.
- Government will negotiate drug prices.
- Americans can buy medicine from other countries.
- Commit to energy independence.
My favorite quote on his domestic agenda: "We'll stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privelege for the wealthy and the connected and the elected, it is a right for all Americans."
The most potent quote on his domestic agenda: "I want an America that relies on its ingenuity and innovation and not the Saudi royal family."
He directly challenged Pres. Bush to run a postive campaign. This should go over very well with women, who apparently have identified divisive politics as one of their biggest concerns. I liked his reference to red states and blue states that set up his statement that he sees a country that is "red, white and blue".
I also like the way he handled the question of faith. He stated that he doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve but that it has been the source of his principles, his values. And then he gave this quote: "I don't want to claim that God is our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side." Very nice. Very, very nice.
He talked again about values, giving examples of people in tough times and saying "Help is on the way." The overall theme of the speech was "America can do better. Help is on the way." He said it's our turn to ask "What if..." and opened that by asking "What if we had a president that believed in science?" and went on to specifically endorse stem cell research. He had a nice "what if" litany there.
And then it was over. He did well. Really well, I think.