Friday, July 30, 2004

One always picks the easy fight

I watched Kerry's speech last night, but felt no real need to liveblog it - too many others were doing the same. However, comments from the transcript: Now, I'm not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? I'm not making this up. I was born in the West Wing! ...Perhaps also known as the "Left Wing." (Oooh, I'm so terribly witty. Ahah.) Bravo, Senator. By all logic, it was at worst a 1:4 chance, and more likely 1:3 or 1:2. That joke fell flat; it just wasn't particularly funny. Ditto the smarmy intro gimmick of "Reporting for Duty." Could anyone have imagined a Democratic nominee's acceptance speech at any point in the last thirty years attempting to be so positive about the military? And when did Democrats decide Vietnam was a just war of necessity in which all served with honour? The standard line from 1970 to early this year was that it was an imperialistic land grab, fought by baby-killing grunts, communism good, etc etc etc. This is a party that successfully convinced the electorate (or at least a plurality thereof) in 1992 that military service didn't matter in a candidate, nor that a strong military is a worthwhile goal. It all seems a bit disingenuous, especially considering Kerry's personal history - condemning his former comrades as murderers, throwing away his medals, and consistently voting against funding the modern weapons he now promises to hand out like candy. He talks about "finally making peace with Vietnam" - but that's a peace that comes from losing. Surrender, retreat, strategic withdrawal, whatever you want to call it - that should neither be the goal of a soldier nor a commander-in-chief. You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good. When Republicans visibly wrap themselves in the flag, it's derided as jingoistic, bloodthirsty and cynical; why do Democrats get a free pass? Mealy-mouthed platitudes about Old Glory mean very little coming from a man who spent much of his adult life profoundly uncomfortable with the principles for which it stands, nor from a political base that spent the weeks and months after 9/11 anxiously chafing at public displays thereof as being possibly offensive. I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way. How we wish we were no more than weeks past an attack with 3,000 victims at any point, you mean? It shouldn't take massive tragedy to stay united against an enemy presenting a clear danger. It should be common sense. As president, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower. Because we all know how well economic sanctions worked on Iraq. And goodness knows, no nation in the world has anything but the greatest respect for the notions of representative democracy, equality, and freedom of expression. It's a PR problem! We just need to promote our principles more, and they'll stop calling us the Great Satan! Brilliant! What bothers me most about this is that it's just about a note-for-note duplication of Lloyd Axworthy's idiotic "soft power" theory, which implies that Canada is a "moral superpower." The problem with that is that principles, no matter how honourable, just don't seem as threatening to mad nuke-wielding tyrants as boots on the ground. I wonder why? 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. I'm at a loss to even understand the rhetorical logic behind this statement. Is there a direct connection between municipal police funding and corporate tax policies? Or is this another smoke-and-mirrors trick where the listener is meant to infer causality, but the speaker can plausibly claim he meant only coincidence? As president, I will not privatize Social Security. If Republicans have made any noise about this, I must have missed it. It's also a damned foolish thing to bring up, for anyone, at any time. We believe in the value of doing what's right for everyone in the American family. To extend the metaphor, wouldn't that also mean not demanding to sponge off your rich uncle because you think it's just so wrong he's successful and wealthy? Wouldn't that also mean not condescending to emulate the faith of your Midwestern cousins as a cynical act of triangulation? We value an America that exports products, not jobs -- and we believe American workers should never have to subsidize the loss of their own job. A return to protectionism? Erg. And theoretically, this statement also means American workers should never be replaced by more efficient practices or technology, which makes his whole economic platform seem dangerously Luddite overall. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in job creation, health care and education. As someone with a net worth something like $3.5 billion, it's a bit rich, as it were, to hear him deride those making $200,000 as greedy, wicked aristocrats. When I was a prosecutor, I met young kids who were in trouble, abandoned by adults. And as president, I am determined that we stop being a nation content to spend $50,000 a year to keep a young person in prison for the rest of their life -- when we could invest $10,000 to give them Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start, the best possible start in life. Let's send murderers and rapists to college, rather than prison? (Yeah, I'm being facetious, but it's not a very well reasoned paragraph.) You'll get to pick your own doctor -- and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions. Incorrect. Government bureaucrats will make medical decisions, if an American socialized health care system would be anything like a Canadian one. I call that much worse. And all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada. I would love to see that become official policy, because it'll cause a chain reaction of unintended results for the left on both sides of the border. Drug companies will either close up shop in Canada entirely, or massively raise prices to subsidize lost American sales; they'll have to, to continue research. Should that happen, I predict the same thing will happen here as did with Cipro, back in 2002 - the government will allow the putatively-illegal production of generics without paying licensing fees to the pharmaceutical companies. Canada will become a pariah in the research world; no company would want to conduct drug research here (or even import new medications) if there's a possibility their work would be expropriated without compensation. Net result: Canadians suffer, foolish Democrats learn that you can't just decide market forces don't apply; everyone gets what they deserve. I like it. We value an America that controls its own destiny because it's finally and forever independent of Mideast oil. What does it mean for our economy and our national security when we only have three percent of the world's oil reserves, yet we rely on foreign countries for 53 percent of what we consume? To be fair, a large part of that comes from Canada, which isn't exactly controlled by Saudi princes. Yet. Drilling for oil in the Alaska reserves would also fulfill quite a bit of that demand domestically, but Democrats apparently consider the caribou and polar bears a more important constituency. (And everyone knows polar bears are staunch Republicans, anyway.) I've told you about our plans for the economy, for education, for health care, for energy independence. I want you to know more about them. So now I'm going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: Go to johnkerry.com. Perhaps because his name wasn't John Kerry? I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents. Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let's honor this nation's diversity; let's respect one another; and let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States. This is stunningly and appallingly cynical, coming from a man who's spent the past six months doing nothing but making disrespectful, divisive, and almost slanderous speeches in aid of reaching this point. (Though I'll admit Kerry has a point about the Constitution and the FMA, if that is in fact his point.) But it can't possibly hurt him, anyway; the media is predisposed to think of Republicans as "mean," no matter what, and this helps their beloved narrative. What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and AIDS? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives? What if we try to win the damn war we're currently in, as the first priority? How'sabout that? All in all, I'm not particularly impressed. (But that was probably a given.) As a speech, it's a skillful piece of triangulation, I suppose, but it comes off as supremely disingenuous. The specifics given, like sob stories about those claimed to be in need of a socialist health care plan, are unnecessary, while the plan to "do better" than Bush on the war and security in general is incredibly vague. I'll give it a B-; okay, but I doubt it'll be particularly inspiring to anyone not already planning to vote Kerry.

1 Comments:

Anonymous flags said...

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4/30/2006 01:23:00 AM  

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