Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Friday, July 30, 2004

New York Times > Editorial > John Kerry Speaks

July 30, 2004
Speakers at the Democratic convention were told to stay positive, but when John Kerry delivered his acceptance speech last night, his best moments came on the attack. His depiction of a Bush administration that misled the public into war did a fine job of rousing the faithful.
Modern presidential campaigns are all about expectations, and in many ways, Mr. Kerry had the advantage of a fairly low bar when he entered Boston's FleetCenter last night. America was already pretty well aware that it is not going to fall in love with him. But in tough times, the public loses interest in the president as a celebrity and yearns for solidity, trustworthiness and sensible judgment. Mr. Kerry was shooting for that standard. "I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president,'' he promised.
The story of Mr. Kerry's performance in combat is a powerful one. But Republicans are going to accuse him of overselling a rather brief episode in his career, and he is going to have to be careful to devote time to the rest of his résumé as well. Last night the public got to hear a little about Mr. Kerry's childhood - the son of a diplomat, he was once grounded for riding his bike into Communist East Berlin - and his years in the Senate got at least a mention. Mr. Kerry's voting record has already been misinterpreted by his opponents in some ads, and he needs to discuss it. Biographies that make his few months in service overseas sound longer than his 19 years in the Senate will never be convincing.
Mr. Kerry has been criticized for a lack of specifics, but he did a good job of explaining how he'd fight the war on terror: by adopting a more aggressive homeland-security policy, reforming the intelligence system and refocusing diplomatic efforts on ending nuclear proliferation. Along with his belief in strong international alliances to solve global problems, these form the backbone of his approach to making America more secure. He did not, however, provide a clear vision on Iraq. Voters needed to hear him say that he understands, in retrospect, that his vote to give President Bush Congressional support to invade was a mistake. It's clear now that Mr. Kerry isn't going to go there, and it's a shame.
Mr. Kerry challenged Mr. Bush to join him in running a positive, optimistic campaign, but given the vigor with which he went on the offense, it's likely that we'll be hearing more about Mr. Bush's failures than Mr. Kerry's optimistic vision in the weeks ahead. The Kerry-Edwards team has a lot of interesting, detailed plans for a domestic agenda, particularly on health care. The promise to cut middle-class taxes, however, is pure pandering, given his new spending proposals and commitment to balanced budgets.
Mr. Kerry cannily defended his well-known preference for complex answers by noting the trouble some of President Bush's simple answers have gotten the country into: "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 an introduction to the candidates, the Democratic convention, on the whole, did its job. Now Mr. Kerry and John Edwards, who are still almost strangers to most voters, will need to reinforce their message before a team the public knows well arrives in New York to d

No comments:

Post a Comment