Friday, July 30, 2004
John Kerry is a smart man, and -- contrary to all the conservative spin -- a passionate man, who has been standing up and speaking senatorially and with conviction since he left Viet Nam.
Tonight he was presidential.
I watched his speech with a roomful of like-minded folks, in a bar, with a couple of pool tables, and a couple of TVs, and one thing was clear: people knew they were listening to a president, not just a candidate.
It was a good speech, thorough, a bit long, filled with content directed less at his base -- though he clearly counts women as his base, since he opened talking about his mother and his desire to continue to work for women's rights -- than directed toward George Bush's supposed base, those who think a Democrat is just naturally a peacenik, lover of terrorists, unwilling to consider the safety of our nation a priority.
This meant that the speech stressed his war record and leadership lessons learned, policy questions and plans, and even a plug for www.johnkerry.com rather than boring us with all the details, of which I'm certain he would be delighted to tell us about at another time, at extreme length.
All of the soaring themes of Barack Obama's keynote address were there, though not the heartstopping intensity and brilliance of the younger man's language and image -- they are two different men, after all. And Edwards's message, "hope is on the way" was translated into the more active "help", as befits an executive. And resonances from Clinton and Carter and other great speakers fought their way through too, because a political speech has a certain shape and expected content, and a heritage that can make it satisfying -- as even some of Karen Hughes's speeches for Bush have been -- or sloppy and unfocused in delivery -- as they are more likely to be.
The presidency is more than a single speech. This one was good. John Kerry's presidency will be good too.
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