He went on too long and frequently too quickly (probably worried about getting the speech in before the broadcast networks pulled the plug), there was too much of a laundry list of policy stuff that bogged the speech down about 3/4s of the way through, he blurpled a few times ("hair pollution," "Senators and memators of Congress"), and towards the end he seemed to be sweating quite a bit, but these relatively trivial performance faults pale before the actual content of the speech. He consistently hit solid themes that should resonate with uncommited voters in swing states, punched out good and memorable slogans, pushed all the right buttons -- faith, country, family, service, morality -- and overall presented himself and his candidacy very well.
Anyone tuning in to watch, disillusioned with Bush but unsure what Kerry was about (other than being told that he's a "flip-flopper" or an "ultra-liberal") had to come away at least with the idea that Kerry is a war hero, that he's an optimist, that he upholds family values and American values, and that he'll do his damnedest to protect us and restore the economy. I'm not sure it's possible to do much more in one speech.
We are here tonight united in one simple purpose: to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.
Being true to our ideals starts with telling the truth to the American people.
I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.
I will be a Commander-in-Chief who will never mislead us into war.
I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a secretary of defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who will uphold the Constitution of the United States.
There is nothing more pessimistic than saying that America can't do better. We can do better, and we will. We're the optimists -- for us, this is the country of the future, we're the "Can Do" people. ... We just have to believe in ourselves and we can do it again.
Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. ... There were no Democrats, there were no Republicans, there were only Americans, and how we wish it had stayed that way.
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.
As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence.
I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.
[The armed forces] will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.
I know what we have to do in Iraq.
I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as President.
We will end the backdoor draft of the National Guard and the Reservists.
I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.
In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.
We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.
I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of [the 9/11] Commission.
Our purpose now is to reclaim our democracy itself.
That flag doesn't belong to any president, it doesn't belong to any ideology, it doesn't belong to any party, it belongs to the Americam people.
You [the terrorists] will lose and we will win, the future doesn't belong to fear, the future belongs to freedom.
It's time to stop talking about familiy values, and time to start valuing families.
We believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as values, but the shared values that show the true face of America. Not narrow appeals that divide us, but shared values that unite us. Family and faith. Hard work and responsibility. Opportunity for all - so that every child, every parent, every worker has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential.
America can do better, and tonight we say: help is on the way.
Health care .. is a right for all Americans, and we will make it so.
I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation - not the Saudi royal family.
I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents. Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let's honor this nation's diversity; let's respect one another; and let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States.
I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side
The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country. These aren't Democratic values. These aren't Republican values. They're American values. We believe in them. They're who we are. And if we honor them, if we believe in ourselves, we can build an America that's stronger at home and respected in the world.
So much promise stretches before us. Americans have always reached for the impossible, looked to the next horizon, and asked: What if?
What if we have a President who believes in science?
What if we have a leadership that's as good as the American dream - so that bigotry and hatred never again steal the hope and future of any American?
It is time to reach for the next dream. It is time to look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come.
And a few lowlights:
"I'm not kidding, I was born in the west wing" [of the hospital]. -- For someone who has to buck being called a rich elitest, this seems an odd thing to brag about, because it made it sound like he was claiming to be born to be president. I know it was supposed to be a joke, but with a wayward son of a president in the White House already...
The extended blurple when he tried to refer to his parents "gift of open eyes, open mind, and endless world" -- for a moment I almost thought he wasn't going to get past it.
The story about being grounded when he rode his bike into the Soviet zone of Berlin.
John Edwards, on camera (this was on C-SPAN, which I assume is using the pool camera), trying to subtly tell his wife out of the corner of his mouth to get ready because they were going to be introduced by Kerry, and then turning on his smile like turning on a light bulb at just the right moment.
"I'm going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: go to johnkerry.com."
It may not have been a home run, but it sure as hell was the go-ahead RBI. It may also prove to be the game winner as well, we'll have to wait and see.
Now, let me go a-bloggin' and see what people around the 'sphere thought.
Update: I took the opportunity of "revising and extending" my remarks, primarily in the second paragraph, the basic description of the speech.
Billmon's take on the speech is the most extensive analysis I've seen so far on the blogs. He seemed to like best the parts I thought were weak (the economic policy laundry list, for instance) but points out how thin those policy primises were. It happens that I don't think that laying out Kerry administration policy was in any respect the purpose of the speech, which is why, to my ear, things bogged down in that section. I also disagree that the early part of the speech, where many of the performance issues I cited took place, was as close to verging on a disaster as Billmon made it out to be, although I do agree it felt touch and go for a moment.
Update:Matthew Yglesias thought the speech was "crap." He wanted it to be a pure expression of policy wonkishness, he wanted Kerry to explicitly say, with great detail, how he is going to fix Iraq. In other words, we wanted a Gore speech. (Memo to Matt: Gore really didn't do all that well -- you could look it up.)
Thank goodness no one in the Kerry campaign thought the same way as young Matthew.
Update: One thing I neglected to say about the experience of watching Kerry speak (as opposed to the speech itself) was that I felt during it, for the first time, I believe, that I could comfortably live with this man in my living room, on my TV for the next 4 - 8 years. That was something I was a little worried about, and Kerry (for me at least) dispelled that concern. I'm hopeful that others felt the same way, not so much that they'd like to invite Kerry for a beer and some pool at the local watering hole, but that he wouldn't wear out his welcome when he came to visit.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.