Kerry's Acceptance Speech

John Kerry delighted his fans at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night. The crowd was the most friendly he will face all year long, and they all seemed to be pleased with their candidate. The full text of his acceptance speech can be found here. Highlights of the speech and a few comments follow.

I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty!

Kind of sappy, but everyone starts of with a joke so we will let it slide. At least it was not as bad as Carter's.

We are here tonight because we love our country.

We're proud of what America is and what it can become.

My fellow Americans, we are here tonight united in one simple purpose: to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.

A great American novelist wrote that you can't go home again. He could not have imagined this evening. Tonight, I am home. Home where my public life began and those who made it possible live. Home where our nation's history was written in blood, idealism, and hope. Home where my parents showed me the values of family, faith, and country.

Very good, liked that so far.

I was born in Colorado, in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, when my dad was a pilot in World War II. Now, I'm not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? I'm not kidding. I was born in the West Wing!

Does Kerry feel entitled to the presidency? What has he done to deserve the promotion? The next several paragraphs were fine, nice job of laying out a background to the inner Kerry.

I felt goose bumps as I got off a military train and I heard the Army band strike up "Stars and Stripes Forever." I learned what it meant to be America at our best. I learned the pride of our freedom. And I am determined now to restore that pride to all who look to America.

Started off there great, but then sank back to bashing the current administration.

What exactly did the United States do to the world that Kerry now has to restore pride? Striking back against a terrorist regime in Afghanistan and removing a brutal dictator hardly seems a moral failure. Just because the coalition was not "all inclusive" does not make the outcome any less noble.

But we're not finished. But we're not finished. The journey isn't complete. The march isn't over. The promise isn't perfected. Tonight, we're setting out again. And together, we're going to write the next great chapter of America's story.

We have it in our power to change the world. But only if we're 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.

Again, started out well but then sank to an attack. Reminder to the candidate, he and his running mate both voted for the war in Iraq.

I fought to put a 100,000 cops on the street.

Can anyone say unfunded mandate? Those who criticize "No Child Left Behind" should not mention the 100,000 new cops program.

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 advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.

This may have played well with the Michael Moore crowd and the party loyalists, but rings hollow to most others. Isn't the world a better place without Saddam Hussein in power? There were plenty of reasons to take him out, is it possible that the president got caught in a battle of semantics over which way to present the situation to the public? Kerry's own words seem to back the deposed leader's removal:

Remarks on 1/23/03 by John Kerry: “We need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous, dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America’s response to that act of naked aggression. He miscalculated the result of setting oil rigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending scuds into Israel and trying to assassinate an American President. He miscalculated his own military strength. He miscalculated the Arab world’s response to his misconduct. And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United States Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons program and disarm.”

I'd like to ask candidate Kerry what his position is on executive privilege when it comes to meetings held at or by the White House. Would he not fight to keep cabinet level meetings closed?

And what exactly has Attorney General John Ashcroft done that has violated the United States Constitution?

Moving on, I liked the next few paragraphs.

There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.

Is the administration being pessimistic? If anything they can be accused of being overly optimistic.

Remember the hours after Sept. 11, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.

Amen. Very well said.

As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics.

What has Kerry done as a leader in the Senate to reform the intelligence community since 9/11? Anyone? Anyone?

As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values against a threat that was real and imminent." So this is the only justification for going to war.

And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

Very well said. But...

Isn't the threat of terrorism always real and imminent in a post 9/11 world? Saddam may not have had WMD, but even President Clinton said in Time Magazine that there was a real threat of Hussein passing off supplies to terrorists, a risk that he himself was not comfortable with after 9/11.

I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

Good, except for it implies that Kerry will only react to attacks and not attempt to prevent them.

We will add 40,000 active duty troops, not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations. And we will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists.

Starting to improve again.

As President, 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.

We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world.

We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.

Getting better, there is still hope for him.

For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. Values are what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.

You don't value families by kicking kids out of after-school programs and taking cops off our streets, so that Enron can get another tax break.

Why would you put a speedbump into the speech at this point, you were on a roll. Do we really have to invoke Enron?

You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care, or if you tell middle class families to wait for a tax cut, so that the wealthiest among us can get even more.

Should Kerry not be ashamed that as a Senator our troops were not properly armed when combat was needed? Why was this not taken care of before we were attacked?

Third, close the tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas. Instead, we will reward the companies that create and keep good paying jobs where they belong: in the good old U.S.A.

What about Heinz?

And we're going to return to fiscal responsibility, because it is the foundation of our economic strength. Our plan will cut the deficit in half in four years by ending tax giveaways that are nothing more than corporate welfare and we will make government live by the rule that every family has to follow: pay as you go.

And let me tell you what we won't do: we won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as President: I will cut middle class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in job creation, health care and education.

Keep going, doing fine again.

And when I'm President, America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, and the connected, and the elected — it is a right for all Americans. And we will make it so.

The train has officially derailed. Health care a new right? National health care system on its way?

Where in the Constitution is the right to health care and how in the world are you going to pay for a single payer system and reduce government spending?

More on this one here.

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.

Translation: Your attack ads are working too well. Remind anyone else of the questioner in the Bush/Clinton debate who asked "can you treat us as your children and get along for us?"

My friends, the high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And that's why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks. This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. Maybe some just see us divided into red states and blue states, but I see us as one America red, white, and blue. And when I am President, the government I lead will enlist people of talent, Republicans as well as Democrats, to find the common ground so that no one who has something to contribute will be left on the sidelines.

Well said.

Overall the speech was fine, but was not the centrist home run speech that many thought was coming. As I said this morning, it appeared rushed (60 minute limit). I did think that Kerry appeared less stiff than normal and that will help him out. President Bush slows down his speech when it is important but this shows that Kerry should speed his up. Was this the speech that will sway the voters to back his candidacy, we will have to wait and see.

Posted by Timothy Perry at July 31, 2004 6:06 AM