Clearly, Kerry did an excellent job last night, hititng all the key points on the map and making himself more human. Kerry is not what he seems, in many ways. He's the son of a diplomat who grew up away from the US and in bording schools. Despite his last name, he's not Irish, but a combination of Austrian and New England Yankee, a scion of some of the country's oldest families.
Despite one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate's history, he is tough as nails. Other people with his politics would have gone into Legal Aid, but he was a prosecutor. He had no problem throwing people in jail. He has no problem with tough decisions. Instead of going to Harvard or Yale Law, where a bright young man with a million family connections could have gone, he chose Boston College Law School, a place for people who actually want to practice law.
Kerry, in many ways, is the reverse image of Bush. He comes from the same social background, but constantly makes different choices.
To mistake his honest doubts and questioning for weakness would be a mistake. The whole idea of flip-flopping is not about indecisiveness as much as weakness. The Bush campaign wants to depict Kerry, despite all available evidence, as a man unsure of himself, unable to make up his mind, someone too weak to make hard decisions. Coming from the man who read My Pet Goat as 3,000 Americans were being roasted alive by jet fuel, this woulod be funny if it weren't sad.
Americans mistake swagger for toughness. Bush is filled with swagger and false bravado, Kerry with the kind of quiet moral and physical courage good junior officers develop and carry on into later life. And it is important to note that Kerry has moral courage as well.
It's not that Kerry is aloof or remote, he seems to like people and have deeply loyal friends. It's that he's not outgoing, reserved is a good word. This can seem oftputting to many people. And it hides one of his most telling characteristics, toughness. John Kerry is not only tough, but aggressively so. From Vietnam, where he was so aggressive, he leaped out of his Swift boat and chased down a VC guerrilla with a B-40 rocket launcher and killed him. He chose being a prosecutor. Then, when in the Senate, he used his committees to investigate, first, Central American policy, then BCCI, now Iraq.
The speech last night, make no mistake, was an aggressive, even brutal attack on Bush. The first line was the opening shot in a speech where Kerry called Bush a liar and a coward. He never said those words, he couldn't. But the implication was clear and direct. He attacked Bush for failing in Iraq and destroying American crdedibility.
Which was fine. But then he called Bush out, called for an "honest" debate, implying he has to fight dirty to win.
But the whole evening was designed to goad Bush.
It is rare in American politics to have such a personal and aggressive speech towards an opponent, but Kerry has nothing but contempt for Bush and it dripped from the speech. Because this was not a policy debate, but an attempt to get Bush to react. It was personal. And, it appears, Bush knows it.
Because this morning Bush said "The most important reason to reelect me is to keep Laura Bush as first lady". A none too subtle attack on Teresa Heinz Kerry. Now, most men don't attack other people's wives, but George Bush did. This is the kind of subtle, nasty attack used by alcoholics and dry drunks. Which means Kerry can claim his own mission accomplished.
Publius, now that he's not concentrating on trivial things like furthering his career as a lawyer, has a nice analysis of Kerry's behavioral style as a politician:
In the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, I heard a lot about Kerry being a good "closer." He closed well in Iowa. He closed well in 1996 when it looked like Weld was going to beat him. Joe Klein wrote a column a while back in which he quoted an unnamed Kerry aide who had worked with him in six different campaigns and said: "I've been with him through six campaigns, and he always scares you in the beginning . . . but he's always right there in October." I never quite understood why this was so praiseworthy, and made me wonder why he wasn't getting his act together sooner. But after watching tonight's speech and this week's damn-near flawless convention, I'm beginning to understand Kerry's political talents.
To me, Kerry seems like a very good poker player. He plays a few hands, but folds a lot in the beginning without gambling too much. During this time, he sort of feels out his competition. As he gets a better sense of who he's up against, he gets stronger and stronger, and leaves with everyone's money by the end of the night.
Overall, Publius rates the convention a success:
I mean, think about it - I just watched a Democratic Party on the verge of collapse in 2002 stay on message for an entire week pounding home the themes of patriotism, family, faith, and unity. I was shocked at how prominently the military and religious themes were emphasized. If you at home didn't particularly care for the simplistic appeals to nationalism, that's the point - this convention wasn't for you. You're probably already voting for Kerry. [...] After this week, the GOP is going to have to play defense on a subject they assumed they would never ever have to defend. Trust me, this convention will create anxiety within the White House.
The one concern that Publius raises is whether the entire display was totally disingenuous, aimed only at converting relatively conservative swing voter in swing states, or whether it is the first step in a refashioning of the Democratic party (and therefore of viable leftish politics in America) into something new and dynamic, able to survive the onslaught of Republican incursions in the culture war.
It's an interesting question, and one that I'm looking forward to Publius exploring further. At this point, not being privy to the planning of the convention in order to know what level of cynicism it was created with, all I can do is answer for myself, an atheist, and a liberal, and a patriot, and a firm believer in the core values this country embodies, who generally cringes when people wrap themselves in the flag or exploit it for for nefarious purposes: I was genuinely moved a number of times during the speeches, and the level of symbolism never bothered me in the least (as far as I saw -- I didn't watch the entire thing gavel-to-gavel). The calls to faith and the mentions of God seemed to me to be honest and sincere and without guile or cynical purpose, and were therefore completely unobjectionable to me.
Another hallmark of the speech was its biting criticism of Bush. In some ways, Edwards and Kerry reversed roles, with Edwards delivering an almost completely positive speech and Kerry serving up red meat.
What strikes me (please standby while I blow my own horn) is that this is precisely what I said would need to happen, when I was arguing (for instance back in March) that Edwards was the best candidate to be Kerry's running mate. People were saying at the time that Edwards lacked the character (or maybe that he lacked the lack of character) to be the attack dog that the vice presidential candidate usually is -- the theory being that the running mate attacks so that the candidate can stay above the fray and appear "presidential."
I thought then that this was precisely the wrong dynamic to go with for this election. Kerry didn't have to prove that he was "presidential" and a statesman, he had to prove that he was tough, as tough as people (wrongly) perceive George Bush as being. Because of that, the usual situation is turned topsy turvey -- it's Kerry who had to attack (but with a degree of subtly, without looking like a bully boy), and Edwards, the running mate, who should stay more or less above the fray, the conscience and moral heart of the ticket.
Well it looks like that's exactly the dynamic that Kerry settled on for the convention, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that's the way they carry things into the campaign, because it's what makes most sense for the circumstances they're dealing with.
Incidentally, the specifically bi-partisan and non-partisan stances taken by Obama, Edwards and Kerry in their speeches, as well as the tone adopted by Clinton, and Kerry's promise to reach out across the aisle for the best people that both parties have to offer when he staffs his administration leads me to be more confident than ever that Kerry's plan for governing will be along the lines I offered here, and that we are very much less likely to see the harder line taken that Roger advocated here (at least by the Kerry administration, which is not to say that the center-left 527s won't move in that direction).
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.
I've recently been reading the miliary historian John Keegan's seminal book The Face of Battle (1976), and today I came across this passage near the end of it, which perhaps should raise for us serious concerns about the well-being of our troops in Iraq. They are, after all, being kept there on active duty because there are no reserves to replace them, and because operations in Iraq didn't conclude as neatly and tidily as the neoconservatives said (and probably even believed) they would:
[A]s time dragged on, almost all soldiers exposed to continuous or semi-continuous combat [in World War Two] broke down. As the authors of the American official report Combat Exhaustion explain:
There is no such thing as 'getting used to combat' ... Each moment of combat imposes a strain so great that men will break down in direct relation to the intensity and duration of their exposure ... psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot and shrapnel wounds in warfare ... Most men were ineffective after 180 or even 140 days. The general consensus was that a man reached his peak of effectiveness in the first 90 days of combat, that after that his efficiency began to fall off, and that he became steadily less valuable thereafter until he was completely useless ... The number of men on duty after 200 to 240 days of combat was small and their value to their units negligible.
The fighting of the Second World War, in short, led to an infantryman's breakdown in a little under a year.
Now, I would assume that the near-continuous combat of WW2 probably doesn't directly compare to what's happened in Iraq (a short and intense period of combat followed by month after month of counter-insurgency operations, policing and, occasionally, some direct combat), but surely the breaking point for this kind of duty must be somewhere in the same magnitude of time, in which case we should all be very worried that the soldiers in Iraq may well be approaching that point.
Let me be clear that I do not advocate, as many of my friends do, the wholesale pulling out of our military from Iraq -- I think that would not only be disastrous in many ways, but would also make a mockery of the sacrfice of all those who have already died there. On the other hand, it's clear that the Bush administration, having gone into Iraq without adequate preparation for the aftermath of the invasion, really have no plan whatsoever for an endgame there that will in any sense justify the price we've already paid.
It's really a situation where neither available choice is a particularly good one, which means that the only way to resolve it is to change the circumstance in such a way as to render one or the other preferable, or creates a new choice which has less of a downside than the others. That's one reason why I find the idea of Kerry mounting an international summit immediately so appealing, not just because with international backing we may be able to spread the pain around a little bit, but because (and this is something the Bush ideologues can never acknowledge) leaders of other countries may well come up with alternatives that we have not considered, or have rejected, and can alter the current equation in such a way to make those alternatives newly palatable.
But the clock is ticking, and we're still five months away from Kerry taking office if he wins the election. Is it possible, I wonder, considering the horrible dilemma we've thrust into by Bush, that Kerry might actually considering convening a summit even before taking office? Can he even do that without running afoul of national security laws?
You don't start a fight with someone you can't talk to. -- C.J. Cherryh
Lest one leave with the impression that "empathy" is just another namby-pamby touchy-feely thing that hardnosed worldly-wise pragmatists like the Bushies don't really need to get along in the world, consider the fact that empathy (or something very much like it) is vital in military planning, because one cannot make proper plans without being able to anticipate (to some degree of correctness) what one's enemy is likely to do. No one, not even the United State, has the resources to cover every conceivable possible course of action, so planners must understand how the enemy thinks and set up to counter the actions which are likely to flow from that understanding.
Clearly, the war planners in the Bush administration completely lacked that ability and, worse, ignored or waved off people who warned them that they were making a big mistake. By relying on their ideological preconceptions and the information they got from people like Chalabi (who tailored the information to give them what they wanted to hear), and then setting out to cherry-pick intelligence until it confirmed their prejudgments, instead of seeing the situation as clearly as possible and understanding how the enemy would proceed, Bush and the neocons insured that we'd fall into the ever-sinking spiral we seem to be.
One of the best political speeches I've ever seen, delivered by Mario Cuomo on July 16th 1984 as the keynote address for that year's Democratic National Convention.
On behalf of the Empire State and the family of New York, I thank you for the great privilege of being able to address this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with questions that should determine this election and that we all know are vital to the American people.
Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families and their futures. The president said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why, this country is a shining city on a hill." And the president is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the president sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one, where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can't find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn't show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city.
In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation --. Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a "Tale of Two Cities" than it is just a "Shining City on a Hill."
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places. Maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds, maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't afford to use.
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President. But I'm afraid not.
Because, the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from very the beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. "Government can't do everything," we were told. "So it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer -- and what falls from their table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class."
You know, the Republicans called it trickle-down when Hoover tried it. Now they call it supply side. But it's the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded -- for the people who are locked out -- all they can do is to stare from a distance at that city's glimmering towers.
It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. The strong, the strong they tell us will inherit the land.
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact. And, we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.
For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
That's not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right, it's not going to be easy. In order to succeed, we must answer our opponent's polished and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.
We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship - to reality, to the hard substance of things. And we will do that not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound. Not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that bring people to their senses. We must make the American people hear our "Tale of Two Cities." We must convince them that we don't have to settle for two cities, that we can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that's what's heard throughout the campaign - dissident voices from all sides - we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender small parts of our individual interests, to build a platform we can all stand on, at once, comfortably - proudly singing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth. We Democrats must unite.
We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation - into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
We should not, we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our constituency. The middle class -- the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare. The middle class, those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.
We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. We speak, we speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule "thou shalt not sin against equality," a rule so simple -- I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will, it's a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters -- E.R.A.!
We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security - their Social Security - is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.
Now we're proud of this diversity as Democrats. We're grateful for it. We don't have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention floor. But while we're proud of this diversity as Democrats, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. That's what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are over and it is time when we pick our candidates and our platform here to lock arms and move into this campaign together. If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own differences aside to create this consensus, all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 1980.
Now the president has asked us to judge him on whether or not he's fulfilled the promise he made four years ago. I believe that as Democrats, we ought to accept that challenge. And, just for a moment let us consider what he has said and what he's done. Inflation is down since 1980. But not because of the supply- side miracle promised to us by the president. Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way, with a recession, the worst since 1932. We could have brought inflation down that way. How did he do it? Fifty-five thousand bankruptcies. Two years of massive unemployment. Two hundred thousand farmers and ranchers forced off the land. More homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932. More hungry, in this nation of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry. More poor - most of them women - and he paid one more thing, a nearly $200 billion deficit threatening our future.
Now we must make the American people understand this deficit because they don't. The president's deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise to balance our budget by 1983. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of this universe; President Carter's last budget had a deficit of less than one-third of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the president's own fiscal adviser, may grow as high as $300 billion a year for "as far as the eye can see."
And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a debt so large that as much as one-half of our revenue from the income tax goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children's future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don't take my word for it - I'm a Democrat.
Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they're not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they'll say that they are appalled and frightened by the president's deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it has been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition - now we're exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them, if they dare tell you the truth you will hear from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit.
Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry and the largest government debt known to humankind? Would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that's the kind of recovery we have now as well.
And what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive. By escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race. By incendiary rhetoric. By refusing to discuss peace with our enemies. By the loss of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend, it seems to me, we have in the Middle East, the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel. Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere - if we're lucky. And if we're not, it could lead us into bankruptcy or war.
Of course we must have a strong defense!
Of course Democrats are for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times when we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always - when this country has been at its best - our purposes were clear. Now they're not. Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals - not to human rights, not to the refuseniks, not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for freedom in South Africa.
We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279 young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are stronger, safer, or better?
That is the Republican record.
That its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the president's amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.
And, now it's up to us. Now it's now up to you and me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all the president has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.
If July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford - what can we expect of December? Where would another four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our forests and fouling our lakes? And, ladies and gentlemen, the nation must think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have? We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people's religion and morality?
The man who believes that trees pollute the environment, the man that believes that the laws against discrimination against people go too far. The man who threatens Social Security and Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And, ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit of the American people?
This election will measure the record of the past four years. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.
We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation's future. And this is our answer to the question, this is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need but we insist on all the government we need. We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise things that we know we can't do.We believe in a government strong enough to use the words "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities. We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
Our government should be able to rise to the level to where it can fill the gaps left by chance or a wisdom we don't fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the "world's most sincere Democrat" - St. Francis of Assisi - than laws written by Darwin.
We believe, we believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
We believe in firm but fair law and order. We believe proudly in the union movement. We believe in privacy for people, openness by government, we believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights. We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be. The idea of family. Mutuality. The sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all. Feeling one another's pain. Sharing one another's blessings. Reasonably, honestly, fairly - without respect to race, or sex, or geography or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems. That the future of the child in Buffalo is our future. That the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive, and live decently, is our struggle. That the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger. That the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 50 years, for 50 years we Democrats created a better future for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities: Roosevelt's alphabet programs; Truman's NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy's intelligent tax incentives and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson's civil rights; Carter's human rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.
Democrats did it, Democrats did it - and Democrats can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this, that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what the last four years of stagnation have. And, we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation's family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people.
We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion. We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980.
And we can do it again. If we do not forget. If we do not forget that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles. That they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher: gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city. And it's a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn't read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it, and lived it. Like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father. And, I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children and they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation's government did that for them.
And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat in the greatest state of the greatest nation in the only world we know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.
And, ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen again. Only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new president of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America's first woman vice president, the child of immigrants, and she, she, she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier for the United States. Now, it will happen.
It will happen - if we make it happen; if you and I can make it happen.
And I ask you now - ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters - for the good of all of us - for the love of this great nation, for the family of America - for the love of God. Please, make this nation remember how futures are built.
Atrios, liberal America's favorite pseudonymous blogger, proprietor of Eschaton, has been outed, apparently with his acquiescence, not as being gay, but as being Duncan B. Black. Not only that, but apparently Duncan B. Black has a gig at David Brock's Media Matters for America wesbite:
Duncan B. Black holds a PhD in economics from Brown University. He has held teaching and research positions at the London School of Economics; the Université catholique de Louvain; the University of California, Irvine; and, recently, Bryn Mawr College. He also has been involved with grassroots political activism. Black is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America.
Atrios' specialty there seems to be tracking Tucker Carlson, since three of the four articles on the site listed by Google as being by "D.B.B." are about the bow-tied feeb rascal.
Oh, the outing would seem to be correct, since Eschaton now carries, at the very end, the legend: "Eschaton -- a weblog by d u n c a n b l a c k," which apparently wasn't there a few days ago.
I would speculate that as his influence grew (and it has) his pseudonym just started to get in the way. Who's next? Billmon? Digby? Demosthenes? Publius? Will Hesiod come back just to reveal his identity?
Look, when there's some doubt about the outcome of the vote, when there's a real old-fashioned floor fight going on (or even an ersatz replica of an old-fashioned floor fight), watching a roll call vote can be really fascinating -- who's twisting who's arms, which delegation is going to pass in favor of what other one, which one will withdraw and change its vote and what does that mean for the backroom dealing going on, sometimes hiding in plain sight. I love that stuff, and can watch it till the wee hours of the morning.
But when the outcome is assured in advance, when there's only one candidate's name in nomination, all a roll call vote is is a bunch of silly people saying silly things about their home states, all trying to outdo each other in silliocity and forced flights of flabby rhetoric. It's boring. I watched about a half-hour tonight and then muted the sound, checking in every now and then when I glanced up and it looked like something might be happening. It wasn't. In the end -- GASP! -- they nominated Kerry. What a shock, knock me over with a feather, why don't you?
And the PTB at the convention were smart to schedule it for after 11pm Eastern (another thing Lubin complains about) -- why waste an hour, or more, of valuable network prime time air (a resource even less in abundance this year than in the past) on a mere formality, the presentation of a bogus process ending in a fait accompli? (On top of that, there were rumors that some Kucinich delegates might try to stage some kind of floor demonstration, a bit of political theatre that nobody really needs, not this year, when the stakes are so high.) Best to stick the whole thing after hours, where it can exist for the David Lubins and other political junkies who sometimes seem to have more sentimentality than smarts.
More from Digby -- A correspondant of his attended a symposium on national security in Boston, and came away with 2 interesting items:
1. According to Lt. General Claudia Kennedy (one of Kerry's military advisors), the number of military personnel we're short of is the same as the number who have been discharged recently from the military -- some of them with skills and capabilities we vitally need -- for being homosexuals.
2. According to Massachusetts Rep. Marty Meehan, ranking Democrat on the House subcomittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, "Kerry [is] going to immediately convene a world summit with international leaders." Since it's of vital importance to us to re-establish our diplomatic bona fides with our friends and allies, and indeed with the rest of the world, this seems to me to be an extremely good idea, and I wonder why Kerry is keeping it under wraps. Is it possible that his people are afraid the right-wing Wurlitzer will try and spin it as Kerry selling us out to furriners?
There is absolutely no journalism going on [at the convention]. [...] What we are watching from out here is a fight to get competing messages out to the American people by hook or by crook.
It's about media manipulation and marketing and the Republicans are very, very good at it. Their biggest problem is that they are selling an extremely defective product. If they win it will be a true testament to their message machine.
He's right, the GOP excells at selling their product (plus they have unindicted co-conspirators in the media working with them) and the Democrats aren't very good at it, even when they remember that they have to do it. All that might seem like a reason to despair, were it not for the fact that word is slowly getting out, the realization is seeping through the culture from the inside, that the Republican product sucks, big time. That makes their task that much more difficult, and should give us hope that, by concerted effort (which the Kerry campaign is clearly putting in, if the presentation of the convention is any guide), our memes can wipe the floor with their memes.
An OK meat-and-potatoes kinda speech from John Edwards, but far from a great one -- a lot of good policy stuff, some touching moments, good slogans ("Hope is on the way"), nice (and very necessary) emphasis on the military and terrorism (About those who attack the US: "We will destroy you") as well as economic issues (the whole "Two Americas" riff is very powerful -- which is why Kerry appropriated it), but he seemed off his stride, not certain of his rhythms, stopping too abruptly only to be met by near silence instead of applause or an expected choral response, and his voice was raspy (apparently he's been on vocal rest the last couple of days).
Still, a base-clearing extra-base hit if not a home run, and there's still not an iota of doubt in my mind (especially seeing some of the other possibles speak at the convention) that Edwards was the best choice to fill out the ticket with Kerry.
Update: It looks like Atrios disagrees with my assessment -- he calls Edwards' speech a "home run". This may just be the difference between watching the speech at home on television and watching it from the Fleet Center, where it's surely easier to get caught up in the moment, and the little flaws I nitpicked about aren't as glaring (or perhaps they're not even apparent) even given the giant repeater telescreen above the podium.
Correction: It wasn't Atrios expressing that opinion, but another blogger, "pie", using Eschaton. In a later entry, Atrios said that he was locked out of the hall for Edwards' speech and only saw about 2/3rds of it on a monitor. His reaction: not a home run, "but almost a triple," which happens to be precisely my take. Friends of Josh Marshall also rated Edwards at 75%.
The commenters on Daily Kos gave a mixed reception as well, but one of them, illinois muckraker, offered what I think is a good analysis:
Edwards gave exactly the right speech for the occasion he faced -- and, mercifully, he did NOT upstage or outshine John Kerry in doing what he needed to do as the number-two man on the ticket.
He made some very specific domestic promises tonight and outlined how a Kerry-Edwards administration would pay for them.
He moved from his "two Americas" critique of the past to a "one America" promise for the future.
He introduced a slogan that speaks to optimism for the campaign ahead: "Hope is on the way!" -- a message I think will resonate with moderate and independent middle-class voters.
He acknowledged the obligatory "security" and "making America safe" memes--and assured voters that John Jerry would deliver on this issue.
In short, John Edwards did what a very, very smart trial lawyer would do--he made the case for his client to the jury.
So he rushed his delivery. So he stepped on his applause lines. So what?
That, I think, sums it up well. Not a home run, not the best speech of the convention, but the right speech making the right points and well-delivered in the right manner.
Sounds like Edwards has got the V.P. thing down pat.
Update:Billmon points out the, perhaps dangerous, surplus of promises in Edwards' speech. I sort of noticed that myself, but forgot about it, or told myself that he wasn't actually promising all that stuff, but laying out what he and John Kerry believed should come about. Still, if that's what he meant, he certainly didn't emphasize it.
FOX NEWS, 9:27 P.M.: Which is the bigger disgrace: Joe Lieberman's recent decision to join the reconstituted Committee on the Present Danger, or Joe Lieberman's just-finished performance on Hannity and Colmes? Bad-mouthing the convention delegates, brushing off Florida 2000 as water under the bridge, criticizing Al Gore specifically for his post–9-11 speeches and Democrats in general for their criticisms of Bush ("I've felt more comfortable here, where it's all scripted, then I have been with what's been said leading up to the convention") -- he was a gift that kept on giving, for segment after segment. Hannity loved him. Sam Rosenfeld
I've held off on putting him on my little list, but he's there now -- he can keep Zell Miller company.
Nick Confessore at TAPPED had an interesting post about USA Today's "aborted decision to have Ann Coulter and Michael Moore, respectively, cover the Democratic and Republican conventions. He extensively quoted the commentary on this brouhaha offered by Tim Rutten of the L.A. Times. The quote included this line:
"This is casting, not editing [he said of the decision to retain these two commentators]. It is an extension of the noxious talk radio ethos that confuses a provocation with an idea and abuse with entertainment. It makes a mockery of the fundamental journalistic standard of balance, because pitting two utterly predictable writers with a demonstrable disrespect for the truth is not a debate, it's mud wrestling.
I agree that this is a nice line in a piece full of them, but I really must disagree with Rutten's characterization of Michael Moore.
To be sure, Moore has been known to be sloppy with the facts from time to time. His sloppiness may even rise to the level of "demonstrable disrespect for the truth," although I personally think that's going too far. But to equate him to Ann Coulter -- to suggest that the two are comparable -- is just not right. It's the same as equating a guy who routinely does 70 on empty highways marked 55 with someone who has been clocked at 80 in a downtown pedestrian mall at lunchtime.
Moore may be legitimately accused to periodic sloppiness with the facts, but his sins don't come within a mile of the wholesale misrepresentations and out-and-out lies that Coulter has dished out with depressing regularity for years. The humor content, too, differs by several orders of magnitude. Moore's humor isn't even particularly biting compared to, say, Al Franken (but Franken -- who would have probably been a better choice for USA Today, is well regarded in terms of fact-checking his writing). Franken, obviously, has used such "gentle" phrases as "big fat idiot" to describe Rush Limbaugh, which is certainly very edgy. That's not really Moore's style, who more frequently plays the role of the naive waif just looking for answers.
Yet neither man is even remotely as mean-spirited as Coulter. Her rejected USA Today column, for example, contained a charming "joke" suggesting that any and all attractive women at the Democratic convention were conservatives under cover, while referring to the "pie wagons" that Democrats call "women." Like the flummoxed editor at USA Today, I'm hard-pressed to see any humor in it.
The truth is that USA Today could use Moore to provide "color coverage" of the Republican National Convention, and they would get what they were probably expecting: a droll, critical take on things that would be biting -- and very possibly not at all fair at times -- but not hateful. The same could NEVER have been said of Coulter.
-- Roger Keeling
Yeah, I picked up on the total bogosity of that comparison as well, and it reminded me of the comparison Josh (Oxblog) Chafetz made in a review in the New York Times Book Review of Thomas Frank's book What's The Matter With Kansas:
LIKE the most vitriolic of right-wing pundits (Ann Coulter springs unbidden to mind), Thomas Frank has a distinctly Manichean worldview.
WHAM! Frank is down for the count and it's only the first sentence of the review.
Only problem, of course, is that Frank is to Coulter as soft loving kisses are to a vampire sucking out your blood and eating the flesh.
I saw Ron Reagan's speech from last night on C-SPAN, and it was also good, although not anywhere near the class of Obama's. Reagan was more casual and personal, with less rhetorical firepower. He made his point clearly, and succinctly, and got off.
But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many. And how can we affirm life if we abandon those whose own lives are so desperately at risk?
I know Reagan forswore any political purpose to the speech, but, as many have pointed out, considering the ideology of the right-wing power structure now running the country, there is no way it could avoid being political -- just by taking a stance opposed to them, he made an important political statement.
Reagan may well resist being sucked into Democratic politics out of respect for his father (but, then again, Ronald Reagan was a liberal Democrat before he switched to the dark side), but I think it's highly likely that he'll eventually be prevailed upon to join in, if only to help push through stem-cell research, an issue that's obviously important to him.
An online friend of mine has a son who is attending Kennesaw State University in Georgia (Newt Gingrich's academic home for a time), and she sent me part of a description of her son's political science text, Janda, Berry, Goldman; The Challenge of Democracy (Seventh Edition; Houghton Mifflin Company; Boston; 2002):
"Chapter 12 ('The Presidency') begins by describing how George W. Bush, who won election by the slimmest of margins, becomes transformed by the events of September 11, and emerged as a effective international leader despite initial doubts about his election."
She rightly describes this as revisionist history in the making, and also notes that a previous edition of the same text, which she herself used, "demeaned Democrats and honored Republican ideology."
After skimming some of the current edition, she reports that the chapter in question:
briefly describes Bush's pledge to be a uniter not a divider, his pledge to not be a president for only those who elected him but a president for all the people, and the hard time Bush had domestically during his first several months as president due to questions surrounding the election. The intro mentions his apparent lack of knowledge of international leaders and world events during the election, but being transformed by events of 9/11 he studied roles of major actors and saw the need for cultivating friends abroad and building an international coalition.
I e-mailed Strategic Vision to give them the opportunity to respond to the concerns I posted here. This is the response I received from David E. Johnson, the firm's CEO:
It is very true that we work with Republican candidates in our political division and we never deny that. We have three divisions in our company - corporate, literary, and political. We never attempt to force our views on any of our clients. Indeed we have many clients in the corporate and literary divisions whose politics is unknown to us or opposite of our political division's. Our one objective is to provide them quality service.
As to our polling during the 2004 Presidential Election, it is independent of any of our clients. We are doing the polling as a company program to brand our name and the accuracy of our polls- not to promote any candidate, nor do we. All polls that are conducted are done so by Strategic Vision and released publicly. They are in no way connected with or sponsored by any of our clients.
With the way she looks, the state of her body and the obviously bizarre, unhinged and disjointed lie of her mind, I think it's more than probable that Coulter is on drugs -- serious drugs. If I had the money I'd hire a private detective to find out, and wouldn't that be a scoop?
(Hey, try to remember this post when things come out in the future about her abuse, OK?)
I don't like to overstate, but I do believe it's possible that we may look back on July 28th, 2004 as the day most of us became aware of the power, grace and poise of the man who later became the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama.
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to he self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted — or at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do.
A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.
A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!
In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!
Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.
Update:Amy Sullivan has a nice description of how Obama's speech went over with the convention crowd, here, and Josh Marshall does as well, here. In addition, Matthew Gross's perception of Obama's delivery is almost exactly mine.
When I changed the title of this post (to reflect the correct name of the polling firm in question), it changed the post's permalink as well. To see the entry I intended to link to, please go here. Thanks.
In my perhaps vain (both senses) attempt to stay on top of the Electoral College status, I go frequently to all the sites that I survey, looking for new polls that I've missed, and insights that I might steal and use for myself. I've noticed that sites generally deal with partisan polls -- those done by polling outfits which are either Republican or Democratic in orientation, as opposed to those done by supposedly non-partisan pollsters -- in one of two ways. Either they exclude them entirely, from both sides of the fence, or else them include them, but with some sort of annotation to indicate their partisan nature, something like (GOP) or *D or whatever.
The exception to this seems to be the polls done by Strategic Vision, which are frequently listed without any marking, making them look like a non-partisan polling operation. This is odd, considering that Strategic Visions is, in fact, a Republican polling house. They don't go to any great lengths to indicate this on their website, nor do they identify the party of the people on their client list, but a simple Google check of them all shows that every one for whom an identification can be made is a Republican or an ultra-conservative.
(And it should be noted that the list includes Larry Klayman, formerly of Judicial Watch, who is running for Senate in Florida, and whose platform includes getting the US out of the U.N., withdrawing from our international trade agreements and making Bush's tax cuts permanent and creating new ones on top of them; he's been endorsed by Bob Barr, Judge Roy Moore and Pat Boone.)
And if that's not enough, the CEO of Strategic Vision is quoted as confirming that "traditionally we work with republican candidates," (although he claims the state polls that are being released are "independent").
Message to people running Electoral College sites: Strategic Vision is Republican, and should be labelled as such and their polls dealt with as partisan polls.
- local school board (2)
- county commission
- state legislature
- state attorney general (2)
- u.s. house of representatives
- u.s. senate (2)
and while they say this is "not a complete list of our clients," they also carefully suggest that they are not the primary polling company for some of these clients:
[W]e happily work with these companies and individuals on an ongoing basis.
From this, I get the distinct impression of a small, not terribly well-established polling firm pretty much getting started in the business. Thus, it makes sense for the CEO, David E. Johnson (who, incidentally, is listed here as Larry Klayman's "spokesperson"), to say about one of their state polls:
"It is an independent poll that our company is doing as part of its marketing research although traditionally we work with republican candidates."
A small polling company wants to raise its public profile, so it does some public polling of strategically vital states and releases the results -- as I said, it makes sense.
But I always thought that the reason we didn't see more in-state polling was that they are expensive to do, so polling companies don't rip them off at the drop of a hat, or just because someone is curious about what's happening. Is it really credible that Strategic Visions is footing the bill for 8 state polls (each involving exactly 801 likely voters), just to get some publicity? Isn't it just as likely that there is a client who doesn't want to be identified?
And where are they getting their data on what a "likely voter" is in each of these states? Strategic Vision is based in Atlanta and seems to specialize in the South for the work it does for clients, so what are they basing their likely voter weighting system on in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, states where they don't (apparently) have any experience?
Finally, how credible is it that in each of these polls their sample size is exactly 801 people? I can certainly see that they might set 801 as their goal, but is it believable that they met that goal, precisely, every single time?
Since I don't know anything about the mechanics and techniques of polling, I can't answer these questions, but I'd be really interested in someone doing so, and setting my mind at ease about this oh-so-convenient and oh-so-timely polls that came out of nowhere.
Update: I've corrected the name of the company throughout -- it's "Strategic Vision singular. Also, I'm sending this post to SV's CEO, David E. Johnson, with an invitation to respond. It's more than likely that my concerns arise out of my ignorance of the ins and outs of the polling business, and if so, he should be able to allay them.
The Washington Post is looking for nominations for the best political blogs, so hop over and take a look. Some of the categories are pretty silly, though, and I had a difficult time fitting in all my favorite webblogs.
In Salon, Tim Grieve reports on the first Veterans Caucus ever held by the Democrats:
[Wesley] Clark's speech -- when he wasn't making inside Army-Navy jokes -- made it clear that the Kerry campaign intends to run right at Bush on war and terrorism, the only area where the president still holds polling advantages over his challenger. Clark acknowledged repeatedly that America is "at war." But that's not a reason to stick with the current administration, he said. It's time to "change horses midstream."
"There's another party out there, and they would have you believe that they're the best qualified to keep America safe and secure," Clark said. "I'm here to say it's not so."
In a building riff that brought veterans to their feet, Clark said: "That flag is our flag. We served under that flag. We got up and stood reveille formation, we stood taps, we fought under that flag. We've seen men die for that flag, and we've seen men buried under that flag. No Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay is going to take that flag away from us."
Clark's fiery performance knocked the GOP-style stuffing out of the veterans' event, turning it into a Bush-bashing barnburner.
My highlight of tonight's convention coverage (what I watched of it):
Strength and wisdom are not opposing values -- they go hand-in-hand, and John Kerry has both. - Bill Clinton
Clinton looked pretty good, but not great, and his greeting from the crowd seemed less rock-starish than I expected. Even though he stumbled over a few lines at the start, and the syntax of what he was saying in the middle was occasionally complicated and difficult to undertsand at first hearing, he seemed very much at ease, and by the end his speech was very solid. (see Publius and Billmon -- I'm too guilt-ridden and exhausted to do any kind of trenchant analysis.)
What gifts that man has! How he wasted them.
Update: On Gadflyer, Cliff Schecter riffs off Clinton's line:
George W. Bush wants us to believe that strength is defined by wearing cowboy boots, refusing to admit when you are wrong, thinking evidence is for sissies, alienating all of our traditional allies, continually falling of your mountain bike and offering playground taunts that endanger our troops, such as the now infamous "bring 'em on."
This is not strength. It is foolishness. And we have paid the price for it in Iraq, with our economy and in the eyes of the world.
Update: More good analysis of Clinton's speech here and here.
I never know whether to post stuff lifted practically wholesale from Eschaton or Political Animal or Daily Kos when I think they're important, because I rather assume that anyone who's found his or her way here is reading those blogs anyway, so why repeat? On the other hand, I'm fairly sure that at least some of the people reading this don't do a lot of blog surfing at all, and if that's the case, I guess it's best to err on the side of a little repetition, especially when the stuff is good.
[I]magine yourself an Iraqi. You've suffered terribly under a ruthless dictator. The Americans invade your country under false pretenses. They promise democracy but don't organize elections. They appoint exiles to rule you, exiles who spend most of their time out of the country and the rest in a few highly protected areas. The occupiers break into your homes in the middle of the night and arrest your men, who then disappear, with no accountability. They shoot Iraqis at roadblocks and from convoys. They declare war on the second most popular man in the country, announcing his death in advance. They open the economy to US corporations and give them sweetheart contracts, ignoring local business. Then they write hundreds of laws and establish commissions limiting any future government. They build permanent military bases on your soil. Then they turn your country over to a former associate of Saddam Hussein, also a former CIA agent, known for his ruthless brutality. Imagine that was your country. What would you do?
Nice try Steve, but your effort is probably wasted. It's the inability of Bush and his supporters, and the American right-wing in general, to put themselves in the shoes of others and imagine what life would be like in that circumstance (empathy, I think they call it) which made "compassionate conservatism" such an extremely ironic (and bankrupt) oxymoron.
We had a small incident in the Fitzgerald household today. My son, age 5, fell off his bike when we were riding down by the East River, on the new bikepath there, and knocked out his two front teeth. He's OK, no other major damage other than losing two baby teeth, but Dad (me) is racked with guilt, since the accident was really my fault.
Anyway, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge some people involved with the incident.
First off, my sincere thanks to the lady who rushed to our assistance, gave us her bag of baby wipes to help clean up and staunch the flow of blood, and comforted my son. Also her two boys, who found the teeth on the sidewalk. I didn't get a chance to say "thank you" before whisking Connor away to the dentist, so I'm saying it now. I'm sure your kindness will be repaid in some way in the future -- thank you.
And to the several other people who came over to inquire if everything was OK, or to offer advice and aid, thank you as well. It's always good to be reminded that New Yorkers can be as neighborly as any people anywhere, especially in a crisis.
Now, to the taxi driver in the gas station nearby who refused to take me and Connor to the dentist (a trip that would have cost 10 or perhaps 15 minutes of time), despite the fact that my son was obviously bleeding and crying, because the driver was off duty: you've really got to re-examine your priorities, my friend, sometimes life is about doing the right thing, not just following the rules or doing what's convenient.
And, finally, to the taxi driver who did pick us up once we had walked the long blocks to First Avenue: I certainly hope that you just made an unfortunate error when you tried to give me change of $10 after I had given you a 20, because taking advantage of an upset parent with an injured and crying child would be a despicable thing to do.
I know that there's really an infinitesimal chance that these people are reading this blog, but stranger things have happened.
I love New York City, but I've lived here for almost 30 years and sometimes it's not easy. When you're just squeaking by in a city that loves and rewards success, how people behave can really make a difference. People -- like the officious asshole at Madison Square Park who forced a Parks Department person to stop my family from playing "baseball" (with a squishy ball hardly more dangerous than a nerf ball) on a patch of dirt that was empty and serving no function at all except for dogs peeing on the trees -- can make life miserable for those of us just trying to live our lives or raise a family, while others -- like the people who came to our assistance today -- can make things bearable. We all have the choice, but I think too many people don't realize the impact that simple acts of kindness, and pettiness, can have.
I'm all but convinced that if Kerry can create a de facto coalition between the Democrats and moderate Republicans, he can get an awful lot done during his tenure, even if his party doesn't actually control both houses of Congress, and in this way defang and render powerless (or, at least, less powerful) the right-wing leadership of the GOP which all but absolutely controls things now.
I think this is the key for Kerry's administration, the answer to the question being asked a while back "Considering that we probably won't control the Congress, do we really want to get a Democrat elected to the White House?"
I have no inside dope, no deep sources inside the Beltway, but simply observation and folk psychology tells me that some of the moderate Republicans in the legislature (there are a few of them) must be getting pretty damn fed up by now of being slapped around, manhandled, ignored and generally dissed by their party's leadership. I have to think that it's possible that they can't see any end in sight, any chance that they're going to be able to force the party back from the precipice it's on without some kind of outside assistance.
They may, I'm speculating, see an informal (and very much unstated) coalition with Kerry & the Democrats as a way of breaking the back of the ideological bully-boys and saving their party from ruin and disaster, if, in fact, it is still salvageable.
(I guess they must want to save it, otherwise I'm at a loss to explain why people like Snowe, Collins and Chafee and so forth haven't already left the party the way Jeffords did. They certainly get no respect within it, as far as I can tell. Simple inertia? Adherence to principles no longer taken seriously by their compatriots? Blindness to their value to the Democratic party, or inability to see the Democrats as anything but ultra-liberal? That doesn't much sound like the people I'm talking about, so I continue to be perplexed by their staying within a party that clearly has no respect for their views, or any real desire to accommodate them.)
Update (7.28): I wasn't aware of this article, a detailed profile of John Kerry by Tom Oliphant in The American Prospect, when I wrote this entry or my comments to Roger here -- or, rather, I was aware of its existence, but not its contents, and certainly not this bit of it:
Kerry’s other, overarching political thought is that the election of a Democratic president this year would liberate an unknowable number of governance-minded Republicans from the iron grip of the GOP’s congressional leadership, no matter who is in the majority. In the House of Representatives especially, the party discipline Tom DeLay can invoke on President Bush’s behalf would almost by definition be less powerful under a President Kerry. On any given domestic issue, there would be 20 or more Republicans available with the proper enticements and atmosphere. For those to the left of center who recall that JFK’s belief in 1960 was that the country could do better, not that it could be revolutionized, Kerry is the kind of person and politician I believe to be worth trusting for this grubby, central task of coalition building.
So it appears Oliphant (and Kerry) agree with my contention that building a functional coalition with moderate Republicans is a worthwhile way for a Kerry administration to proceed to try and govern this country.
What I think is implicit in that, but perhaps not clear from what I wrote, is that the very act of building that coalition defangs DeLay and Lott and the right-wing ideologues currently running Congress, and seriously reduces their power, which both would have the practical effect of rendering them much less dangerous, without having to have gone whole-hog into hard-fisted meanness to do so. That doesn't mean that an iron-fist within a velvet glove won't be called for at times, but I continue to think that the country can't really stand much more vitriolic vituperativeness in its political life. It needs a break, in fact, we all need a break, and anyone who gives us one is likley to be rewarded with support and a measure of trust.
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.