Friday, July 30, 2004

Why I'm Not Sold on Kerry

Our intrepid political reporter tracked down two local delegates in Boston tonight, to get their reactions to the Kerry grand finale and the convention overall.

I found their words enlightening.

The first is my state representative, a guy I vote for every two years. He's smart, he's a good state rep, and he's a veteran of Democratic Conventions.

Some people have made much of the centerist tone of the convention, as presented from the podium, and how it is so at odds with the opinions and mood on the Fleet Center floor. Kerry and Edwards, who voted for the war in Iraq, talking about staying the course.

David Brooks (New York Times) ran down the list today:

There were so many military men at the Democratic convention that I almost expected John Kerry to mount the stage in full body armor and recite the war speech from "Henry V." As it is, he called for bulking up the military, doubling the size of the Special Forces and crushing the terrorists. He hit Bush from the right, and when he got around to bashing the Saudis, I thought I'd wandered into a big meeting of The Weekly Standard editorial board.

Not only that, Kerry's speech followed an all-hawk medley. Gen. John Shalikashvili called for appreciably increasing the size of the Army. Joe Lieberman called for muscular and idealistic internationalism. Joe Biden said we must "win the death struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism." Gen. Wesley Clark said we're in "a life or death struggle" against terrorists seeking nuclear weapons.

John Edwards gave a speech that eschewed talk about Halliburton, WMD, misleading the country into war -— the entire liberal catechism. Instead he talked about defeating "every enemy in this new world" and confronting Syria and Iran so they don't interfere with the emergence of a democratic Iraq.

But, as David Broder (Washington Post) observes of the delegates, "80 percent of them say they opposed the decision to start the war in Iraq and 95 percent oppose it now. Unlike Kerry, 62 percent support gay and lesbian marriage. Almost nine out of 10 describe themselves as supporters of gun control."

But my state representative thinks it bodes well for the Democrats that the party's hard core did not surfeit on Bush rhetoric at the convention. He said people are leaving Boston tonight "unsatisfied" and "still hungry."

"At the last convention [2000], there was a lot of visceral Bush-bashing, and while that got you all revved up, it was also a release, so you went away feeling all satisfied. But because there hasn't been Bush-bashing at this convention, it's all been pure about Kerry, I think there's sort of a sense that 'gosh, there's got to be more to it than this.' Because just going 'rah rah,' and 'yeah,' and 'there's another good thing I like about him,' just doesn't give you that same satisfaction as, 'acht! we need tear this other guy apart,' from a very raw political sense."

["Acht," by the way, is a blunt, but harmless, Pennsylvania Dutch expletive. Dick Cheney should study it.]

The other local delegate we caught from the floor tonight thought Kerry was wonderful, because, "He talked about health care, jobs, education, world security -— he said what he needed to the American people."

"This is my fourth convention, and it's the most upbeat one I've been to. The messages being sent are, we need to stop out-sourcing jobs overseas, we need to strengthen our education system and there are 44 million Americans without health care. If we repeal some of the tax breaks Bush gave to the top one percent of income earners in America, as Mr. Kerry proposed, that would be more than enough to pay for these reforms."

Outsourcing ... education system ... health care ... repeal tax breaks ... reforms. Let's see, is there anything else on the American agenda tonight?

Oh, yeah, maybe they forgot this: