30, 2004 – It was his night to shine, and shine he did.
He repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet and reclaimed the
flag for all Americans, saying no President nor party had a right to
claim it as their own.
I am not talking about presidential hopeful John Kerry, though he
did borrow this line to use in his speech later on.
Wesley Clark showed why he inspired so many during the primaries and
why he was chosen to speak on the most important night of the
General was in the best rhetorical form he had ever been, working
the crowd into frenzy after cheering frenzy.
He told the nation that any party that claims they have a
monopoly on defending the nation, “is committing a fraud,”
against the American people.
as he did throughout his primary days, he pointed to the flag and
claimed it back from the Bush Republicans who try to pretend it is
somehow only a Republican symbol.
hall, this Democratic Party are filled with veterans who have served
under the American flag,” said Clark.
“And this is our flag. Right there, that flag, we saluted
this flag. We rose up in the morning and stood reveille to this
flag. We fought for that flag. We've seen brave men and women buried
under that flag. That flag is ours, and nobody, nobody will take it
away from us.”
than anyone else, Clark brought the feeling of seriousness and
purpose, starting his speech with a chilling reminder.
am an American soldier. Our country has been attacked. We are at
war. Our nation is at risk. And we are engaged in a life-and- death
struggle against terrorists who are seeking nuclear and biological
then, in true statesman fashion, he called for a moment of silence
“to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we
could have the freedoms that we exercise here tonight.”
was the sort of moment John Kerry could have really used to make
himself seem Presidential.
Clark, not only was it stirring, it was entirely natural.
also did something that – astoundingly – no other Democrat has
done in trying to point out that the Republicans have no business
claiming to be THE party of national defense.
He pointed out that World War I, World War II were both won
under Democratic presidents.
Kerry will join that pantheon of great wartime Democrats: great
Democrats like Woodrow Wilson, who led us to victory in World War I;
great Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who turned
back the tide of fascism to win World War II…”
also cited President Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile
Crisis, and then had his big applause line of the night as he cited
former President Bill Clinton as one of the Democrats who led the
nation to great military victory.
great Democrats like Bill Clinton, who confronted ethnic cleansing
in Yugoslavia, and with diplomacy, backed by force, brought peace to
a shattered land.”
they did so many time during his speech, the crowd erupted on this
for John Kerry, he seems to be reading The Moderate Independent more
and more these days, as he took the advice we gave some time ago and
made a challenge to “family values” the centerpiece of his
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 that we
champion and the people we fight for.
And it is time for those who talk about family values to
start valuing families.”
then he began to set straight what family values actually means.
don't value families by kicking kids out of after-school programs
and taking cops off the 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.
don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to
seniors so big drug companies can get another windfall.
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 lifesaving medicine.
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.
believe in the value of doing what's right for everyone in the
American family. And that's the choice in this election.”
then Kerry really got into it.
believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as
values, but the shared values that show the true face of America;
not narrow values that divide us, but the shared values that unite
us: family, faith, hard work, opportunity and responsibility for
all, so that every child, every adult, every parent, every worker in
America has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential.
That is the American dream and the American value.”
we at M/I can say is its about time someone called the Bush/Limbaughians
on their game of claiming the high road so they can take the low
road (as a matter of fact, both Kennedy and Edwards used a line
about Bushies taking the ‘lowest road’ in their speeches –
guess they are readers as well.)
as Kerry survived in Vietnam by turning his boat directly into the
enemy fire, it seems he is steering the boat of his campaign
directly into the Republicans’ biggest guns, making national
defense and ‘values’ his centerpiece.
It makes sense in that he feels he has the advantage already
on domestic issues, and that what support the President has comes
from national defense issues and a feeling of shared values among
certain voters. Kerry
must feel if he can chip away at this for the next 90 or so days, he
can get the handful of swingers he needs to win.
started his bus tour today with more talk about “values.”
It appears that the plan is for Kerry to hammer away at
national security and values while Edwards takes on the domestic
agenda. Kerry will be
the fighter for the worldly issues, while Kerry will use his
experience as fighting special interests as a trial lawyer to fight
for domestic issues. This
was also set up in last night’s speech.
January, Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle
class to succeed Dick Cheney as vice president of the United
States,” said Kerry.
absent throughout the whole convention – held at the birthplace of
American freedom – were references and imagery from the Boston Tea
Party or Revolution. There were some, but it seemed it would have been made a
major theme, especially since it gave the opportunity to make the
Democrats the true, brave American patriots standing up to another
aristocrat who comes from a line of Georges.
fact, in the end, there was something missing from the whole
to the Democrats for striking a mostly non-partisan theme and
focusing on uniting the nation and the good things about America.
What was lacking was a truly clear and detailed message.
After four days a handful of themes had been hammered away
at: hope, unity,
values, optimism. And a
number of slogans used and then discarded, such as Strong at Home,
Respected Abroad – that theme more or less disappeared for
Kerry’s speech, replaced by, “Hope is on the way,” and the
talk about values.
the end, the Convention was a good launching point, well run, and
nicely themed, but it will be the debates that the undecideds really
tune in for. And until
the debates, the biggest challenge for the Democrats over the night
90 days will be dealing with the right-wing bias of the media,
which, in case you haven’t noticed, has been peeking its head out
from all sources, from AP to Newsweek to ABC News.
truly the biggest threat to Kerry’s chances is this:
During the primaries, the Democrats let FOX News host three
of the nine debates, setting up the notion of FOX as a legitimate
choice to moderate one of the Presidential debates.
This must be prevented at all costs.
If FOX gets to host one of the debates, Kerry will lose the
election, period. As
Wesley Clark learned during the primaries, there is no way to avoid
the FOX hit, as they use their ‘questions’ to make smearing
statements against you and any response you have just has you
looking defensive and unpleasant.
let this happen, Johns, no matter what, and you are on the road to
having your chance to show the nation what leadership and patriotism
Washington Post transcripts of Clark and Kerry speeches: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/shoulders/dnc_fullschedule.html