Friday, July 30, 2004

Kerry's speech last night was impressive. I didn't think he had it in him, the man actually broke a sweat. After the mind numbingly dull speeches for the past four days that seemed to repeat the same themes ad infinitum, I was worried that Kerry wasn't going to get the crowd going. But in a way, I think it's not unlike being an opening act where the headliner doesn't let you share channels in the house PA or use the lighting gear for more than a couple of simple fader moves. The opening speakers went on for far too long, and some of the people were fired up just on account that the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. And Kerry took it from there. There are three parts of the speech that touched on something I hadn't heard from him before. I was especially impressed with the following:

"Now I know that there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities, and I do, because some issues just aren't all that simple. 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."

That is an answer to the "flip-flop" charge. I look forward to seeing him elaborate on this theme in the days ahead. I was also wondering when he would get a chance to counter the GOP lies about how Kerry's going to "raise your taxes." Here is the response:

"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 health care, education and job creation."

Finally, this passage comes somewhat unexpected, but it hits to the truth of my experience growing up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, where people certainly were more religious, but they viewed religion as a part of their life, not their lives solely devoted to their relgion. I had a pastor once warn my Sunday school class about so-called "Jesus freaks," who are not true to the word of God but treat their religion too much like other forms of idolatry. When I moved to the suburbs of Chicago, I witnessed this phenomena firsthand. I remember one classmate once asked me if I was a Christian or not. I hedged for a minute, because he asked it in a tone of voice that sounded to me the same as someone who would ask me if I considered myself as a "jock," or a "burnout." He seized on the rather small "um," and said, "well you either are or you aren't."  As a sixteen year old I would have been well served by this passage from Kerry's speech:

"And let me say it plainly: In that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my religion 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."

 

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