Thursday, July 29, 2004

Reaction to the Kerry speech: loved it. About as compelling a defense of modern liberalism as I've seen an American politician make recently. By using the rhetoric of values to argue the case for ethical foreign policy, health care, and help for the homeless Kerry simultaneously cut the ground under Bush and crafted a naturally appealing argument for (not-so-popular) liberal policies:
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. They're 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.

We believe in the family value of caring for our children and protecting the neighborhoods where they walk and play.

And that is the choice in this election.

You don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to seniors, so big drug companies can get another windfall.

We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford life-saving medicine.

And that is the choice in this election.

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.

And then he was blunt about something Democrats are not usually blunt about: religion. It was refreshing to hear an argument against Bush's hypocritical invocations of God:
I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side.

Compare this honest defense of Democratic ideas to the GOP's showcasing of liberal speakers at its convention. Prime time slots at the GOP convention are to go to Arnold Schwarznegger, George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudy Guiliani who are pro-life; John McCain who is not exactly your typical conservative; and Rod Paige, who has extensive experience in education but no public stance on any other issues and got the slot by being black - who says Republicans don't like a little affirmative action now and then? The GOP convention is shaping up to be an attempt at deception, a stab at trying to present Bush as someone he is really not. With his scrupulous defense of his ideology, Kerry has created yet another contrast between the two candidates.


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