|Friday, September 3, 2004
11:46 - Now that that's over...
I didn't see Bush's speech live, but here's the transcript, and CapLion and Stephen Green (among others) liveblogged it. Sounds like it was a pretty good one, with some really choice moments (Bush winking at a protester being dragged out of the hall? Jokes about his own walking and speaking abilities?); I'll have to catch the video tonight.
Then apparently Kerry came on stage somewhere at midnight to issue this oh-so-measured response:
"We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.
The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.
Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America."
So let's see here: Kerry's already said that he himself would have gone into Iraq if the decision had been his; I guess he's saying he's just as unfit to lead as Bush, huh? Brilliant move. Does Kerry have ADD or something? How can he contradict everything he says so breezily, so regularly? Does he maybe just honestly not remember what he himself said?
Cheney's four student deferments make him unfit to defend the nation. Or maybe it was the one he got because he'd just become a father. Got it. And Bush was only in the National Guard; he didn't actually blow himself up throwing a grenade into a rice stash or get a thumbtack in his ass or anything medalworthy like that. From now on, only people who fought in Vietnam are capable of making military decisions for this country. Right, Clinton?
And from there one just has to wonder whether Kerry actually researched any of the barbs he flung at midnight, or if he knows full well that he's being disingenuous, but trusts the American people to be too stupid and the news media to be too biased for him ever to get called on it. For instance, Kerry must understand that Cheney is not on Halliburton's payroll; he has deferred compensation, on terms that were laid out at the plan's inception such that the amount he gets paid cannot change regardless of Halliburton's corporate fortunes; and on top of that, he gives all his deferred compensation income to charity. Does Kerry not know this? Or does he just hope people will blindly believe him without looking up the facts?
Facts, Mr. Kerry, appear to be your enemy. Holy damn, though—you need to listen to your handlers once in a while.
Everybody has weighed in on Kerry's little diatribe, focusing on one point and another: Ann Althouse finds it disturbing that Kerry's response to questions about his leadership abilities is to say that he will not have any such questions. Boy, that sounds like a guy I want to have accountable for running the country. And "pouncer" in Stephen Green's comments points out the idiocy of conflating "health care" with "health insurance", as well as of suggesting that anyone who doesn't stand up to the Saudis on oil matters is unfit to be President—which includes everybody who's been in office since OPEC was formed. But Kerry doesn't have to come out and say, somehow, that his presidency would "put the Saudis in their place", or whatever we're to assume the alternative is. It's sufficient, apparently for the New York Times and the rest of the media machine, for him to say things like "People die of cancer" and "Not everybody on the planet is happy", and everybody just implicitly understands that the only thing standing in the way of unspoken, ineffable solutions to those things is that John Kerry is not President yet.
Is there anything he said last night that wasn't a stupid, easily deflated conspiracy-theory-ridden canard? If that's what Kerry's running on now, I've got another word for it: fumes.
Oh, but MoveOn.org has already proclaimed, shockingly enough, that Bush's speech was a failure and Kerry's was a hard-hitting masterpiece:
Republicans hoped that their convention would strike a ringing tone that would echo through the media for the next week. But between the speakers' nastiness and belligerence, John Kerry's swift and tough response, and our hard work, the momentum they're banking on is nowhere to be seen.
At a midnight rally last night, John Kerry stood up to Bush's attacks. "For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief," he said. "Here is my answer to them: I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq."
Now that the convention bubble has burst, we have an opportunity today to focus the media on the soap scum that remains. Commentators have been surprised at how ruthlessly negative and bitter the convention was - from the Purple Heart band-aids that Karl Rove's mentor handed out on the stadium floor  to Zell Miller's rabid attack on John Kerry . Whether or not that perception solidifies into conventional wisdom depends on the conversation in the nation's editorial pages, where our letters to the editor can make a big difference. We've loaded up our letter to the editor tool with all the information and talking points you need to write a letter -- all it takes is a few minutes of your time.
"Letter to the editor tool". Could it be any more perfect? I'm gonna go call someone that right now.
UPDATE: Oh, and eat this, MoveOn.org.