Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

the DNC speeches -- mostly Kerry's

Barack Obama reminds me of Dennis Kucinich. I think i would trust people more if they didn’t sound like they were so madly in love with Kerry, if they said, “Look, in an ideal world there is no way i would ever vote for John Kerry, but this year the choice is him or Bush, and let me explain to you how 4 years of Bush would be far worse than 4 years of Kerry.”

I really don’t have much to say about the other speeches. Lots of feel-good talk. (Bill Clinton’s still got a gift for public speaking -- though that doesn’t mean i don’t still dislike him.) What i want is actual policy talk. Someone tell me why i should vote for John Kerry.

Kerry’s was a fucking long speech. I definitely didn’t watch it, but i read a copy after the fact. And of course there was a preponderance of blog commentary on it. My immediate introduction to the speech was 3 of my friends posting on LJ praising the speech, but obviously far more interesting were the critiques from other sources.

James Lileks talked some about Kerry's speech. "He said he would respond if America was attacked. Well, duh. I take something else from this distinction: he will not attack if America is provoked." Lileks also commented on "I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as President," saying that that statement says the Vietnam war was a defense of the United States, which certainly many people argue (preventing the spread of Communism and all that) but it's certainly not the conventional wisdom among Kerry's cohorts.

Stephen Green was live-blogging. Of the speech he said, "The language is about optimism, but the content is about how royally screwed we all are." Other highlights:
One of Kerry's former boatmates says, "When your whole future, your life, depends on the decisions of one man..."

Whatever happened to multilateralism?

"I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution..."

Oh, boy. You know I'm know John Ashcroft fan, but the AG has simply been enforcing the lousy PATRIOT ACT that Kerry voted for.

"A strong military... and strong alliances."

And how does that square with Kerry's promise a minute ago never to "ask permission" before going to war?

Ah -- now here's a place where Bush is weak: Medicare. Even Seniors don't like the new prescription plan, by a 2-1 margin.

On the other hand, Kerry just called health care "a right for all Americans."

And I thought Bush's plan was too damn expensive.

"Big ideas, not small-minded attacks."

I haven't heard any big ideas, but I have heard more than a few small-minded attacks. Pot, meet kettle.

NOTE: I don't expect much better from Bush when his turn comes. It's a freakin' covention speech, people.
I hadn’t read much about the speech before I finally read it myself, but one thing i thought of while i was reading it was all the talk a while back about Kerry’s “no negative campaigning” because it seemed like most of the substance of Kerry’s speech was “Bush did bad things. I won’t do those things.” Though of course when you’re running against someone, particularly an incumbent, you’re kind of required to talk about how you’re a better choice than the other person, so the line is very blurry.

Recently i wrote "It's probably horrible that the thing i am least looking forward to about the possibility that GWB will be re-elected is having to suffer through 4 more years of Bush-bashing." Apparently i’m not the only one with those thoughts. Brian Doherty writes:
A Kerry victory will mean I'll no longer be haunted with endless, tedious haranguing about the unique evils of George W. Bush and extemporaneous ramblings on national and international politics while hanging out in my usual bars, especially in San Francisco. National politics, wars, and the like suddenly become much less of an active concern for most of the non-libertarians I socialize with when a Democrat is in office. While I fear, for example, that the situation in Iraq and the level of U.S. violent involvement in it will remain the same whether Bush or Kerry reign, a significant portion of America's left will suddenly not care about it anymore, and after time the daily reports on American casualties will sink to the one-paragraph "international roundup" on page A-12.
Jeff Jarvis says it was a competent speech. His main problem:
He leads with making America "respected in the world." As far as I am concerned, this should not be a primary goal of an administration; at most, it is a fringe benefit. We should do what we need to do and if the world respects that, fine; if France doesn't, I still don't give a damn.
He also points out the John-John moment. And here i was thinking he was just following up on Clinton’s speech ("Send me/John Kerry" --> "reporting for duty"). Speaking of... "band of brothers"? Hello St. Crispin. The husband of an Air Force brat says Kerry’s salute was sloppy.

Listening to Kerry's Navy crewmate and to Max Cleland in his wheelchair, watching Kerry "reporting for duty" with a salute, you couldn't help but be struck by how central Vietnam is to Kerry's core, and how that long-ago war still hangs in the air of every presidential election.


That's the thing about critiquing a speech--it's all so inherently subjective, like critics disagreeing over a movie. It's all the more remarkable, therefore, that the mainstream media--the folks who don't overtly come at politics from the left or the right--were nearly unanimous in hailing the speech. That, I predict, will convince people out there that it was a better speech than they might have thought.

-Howard Kurtz, "Kerry Wows the Media "
A while back, my father wrote: "This story [on righteous violence] brought me back to my youth in the 60s/70s during the Vietnam war. Everyone seemed to know someone--or know someone who knew someone--who had begun as a staunch opponent of war and violence. Who was appalled by the American participation in the war. But who after a while became an advocate of war and violence, as long as it was war and violence against the US armed forces, or against people perceived as their allies."

My father spent Friday with my brother (who’s recovering from oral surgery) playing Scrabble and watching convention wrap-ups on TV. He wrote:
I have learned that the Democrats have a "message" and that it is "positive" and "optimistic" and characterized by "hope." Alas, I have learned almost nothing specific, nothing about choices and trade-offs.

Isn't the rap on Geroge W. that he went into Iraq too "positive" and too full of "hope." That there wasn't enough of a reality check. Now I suppose a political convention is kind of by definition unreal. But, still, I was disappointed. Arnold Kling expresses some of my disappointment.
Kling begins:
Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: ``I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.'' So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.
-- Democratic nominee John Kerry, in his acceptance speech

These words, intended to suggest that John Kerry would not have gone to war in Vietnam or Iraq, speak even more strongly against intervention in Haiti, Kosovo, or Darfur. Taken on its face, it would be the most isolationist platform any candidate has run on since the 1930's, in an era where technology and events have made isolationism seem less plausible than at any time in America's history. As appealing as those words may have sounded to a nation weary of bad news in Iraq, there is no way that John Kerry would live up to them were he to be elected President.
Glenn Reynolds did a collaborative live-blogging, opening up a post to comments. Later he posted a survey of other people’s wrap-up comments and opened up that post to comments as well. An additional round-up is located here.

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