Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Speech

B+/A- for Kerry. He accomplished several important things; he outperformed John Edwards, which a lot of people thought was impossible; he outperformed expectations by a wide margin; he converted the Democrats from an anti-Bush (and tacitly Clintonite) party into a pro-Kerry party; he used his military record to set up a comparison between himself and Bush that resembles the comparison between Eisenhower and Stevenson; he adopted Reaganite national security rhetoric ("You will lose and we will win. The future belongs not to fear, but to freedom."); he looked very presidential; and most importantly, perhaps, he gave a speech that will be remembered pneumonically, as the "reporting for duty" speech.

The negatives? It was too long by about a third. Because of that, he had to rush through all his big applause lines. If he had stepped back after saying that he would appoint an attorney general who "upholds the Constitution of the United States," the conventioners might still be cheering. Laundry-list public policy stuff never goes over terribly well, but I guess it's unavoidable if you don't want to be accused of lacking specific proposals. Certainly a big improvement on Al Gore the math lecturer. Promising tax cuts balanced out the populist stuff a bit. I wish Kerry had said something about establishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he had said something about his methodology for tracking down and killing terrorists around the world. Also, perhaps this is nit-picking, but the Democrats should have coordinated Kerry's and Edwards' rhetoric a bit better. Is it "help" that's on the way, or "hope"? I'm not sure.

In addition to exposing John Ashcroft, my favorite lines were the one about defending the country as a young man and being prepared to defend it now, his injunction to Bush not to misuse the Constitution for political purposes (ahem, Hate amendment), the line about how patriotism and the flag don't belong to one party, and finally, Kerry's riff on what pessimism really means (claiming that this is the best we can do).

UPDATE: Full text here.
Thinking about it a bit more, the line not only of the night, but of the convention, was this: "The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom." Pure Roosevelt. "Freedom, not fear" sounds like a good campaign slogan to me.


At 5:16 PM, Blogger the actual rod said...


At 5:35 PM, Blogger Finnegan said...



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