Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 30, 2004
POLITICS: Like A Dog That's Been Beat Too Much

So, for people tuning in last night, we can answer the question, "Who is John Kerry?": He's an orange man with mechanical hand gestures and run-on sentences like this one:

So tonight, in the city where Americaís freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation - here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom - on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot - for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return - for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us - for all of you - with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.

Was it, as it should have been, the speech of Kerry's life? Well, measured against past Kerry speeches, I'd have to say it was - he didn't drone, and it wasn't a forty-car pileup of banalities. Neither was it a great speech; I'd maybe give it a B or a B+. But then, I'm not the target audience here. Some observations:

*The most striking characteristic of Kerry's speech, as with this whole Democratic convention and as with Kerry's traditional approach to defining himself (or, rather, un-defining himself) - particularly coming from a challenger - was its astounding defensiveness. I am too a patriot. I am too willing to defend this country from its enemies. I'm not gonna let the UN veto actions to defend the country. I do too share your values. I do too believe in God. I'm not gonna jack up your taxes. I'm not a pessimist or a mean, angry guy.

At some point, you have to wonder if the Democrats ever ask themselves why it is that they should have to say things like this. When you have to spend half the time at your own party's convention three months before the general election trying to convince people that you are not an unpatriotic, amoral, unprincipled, godless weenie, perhaps the convention shouldn't be the first time you deal with the problem.

*Echoes of any number of past campaigns here - I can't even count the faux-Kennedyisms, but there was the deliberate echo of both Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bush in 2000:

We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if weíre true to our ideals - and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.

There was also the verbatim cribbing from Dick Cheney in 2000: "To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way."

Line with the strongest Shrum/Ted in '80 feel to it:

But weíre not finished. The journey isnít complete. The march isnít over. The promise isnít perfected.

*My wife thought the choppy hand gestures - which got better about halfway through the speech, when the six cups of coffee or whatever started to wear off - made Kerry look like a cheerleader. Though I must say, John Stewart was running footage later of Jennifer Granholm, and Kerry wasn't that bad.

*Cheap shot: after Kerry said his mother "taught me to see trees as the cathedrals of nature", I half expected him to add, "and I came to see them as my brothers." Another one: when he said

Now, Iím not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? Iím not making this up.

I can't have been the only one thinking, "is he really gonna say, 'the left wing'?"
(I also noticed that they cut the volume on "No Surrender" right at the line "there's a war out there still ragin', you say it ain't ours anymore to win . . .")

*I predicted to some friends that Kerry would have his "band of brothers" on the stage alongside him during the speech. Between the salutes, the "reporting for duty," and all the Vietnam-vet stuff, I half expected him to come out in uniform - or at least wearing his medals (not the ribbons, I guess . . . ). Even Ollie North didn't play the man-in-uniform card this hard. Time will tell how the hard sell on his Vietnam service will play, but they definitely left no cliche behind in promoting it.

*Should the Republicans, as some have suggested, try to make hay out of the paucity of substantive attention given to domestic policy? The Democrats generally were long on pain-feeling and talking up job creation and very short on how you do anything about it. But I suspect the GOP needs to stick to its own game plan, which in any event has to include some real details on what the second-term agenda should look like.

*Now, correct me if I'm wrong - I didn't by any means watch every speech - but I swear I didn't hear the name "Saddam Hussein" from the podium once.

*More another time on Kerry's pie-in-the-sky on foreign oil and on the idea that we should be developing more life-saving drugs while imposing price controls on drug companies.

Cont'd . . .

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:55 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

I also (very honestly) thought he was going to say ďleft wingĒ Ė Iíve read several other comments in other places to that effect. Either weíre all cynical or Kerry has a bit of an image problem.

Most likely, itís a little of both.

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at July 30, 2004 6:03 PM

Yet another reason not to vote for Kerry-"The city where America's freedom began" was Philadelphia, not Boston.

Can you appear to be tough on national security while all but saying you'd get the hell of Iraq as soon as possible? That's one nuance too many, even for Kerry.

Posted by: John Salmon at July 31, 2004 2:00 AM

Philadelphia? As in the Philadelphia Tea Party? Or Paul Revere's ride from Elmwood to Media?

What the hell are you talking about?

Posted by: Mr Furious at August 1, 2004 1:02 AM

I think the reference is to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the seat of the Continental Congress and, for a good deal of the pre-1800 period, the capital of the federal government. In fairness, Boston and Philly share the credit, in my book.

Posted by: The Crank at August 2, 2004 11:09 AM
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