D emocratic presidential nominee John Kerry
had more than 50 minutes to make his case
to the public, and to show a more human side that even his supporters say is lacking, yet put in no better than a passable effort.
In the beginning of his acceptance speech on Thursday, and at a few other points throughout it, Sen. Kerry floundered, failing to connect with the audience and do more than string together a series of cliches.
Other times he was more cogent, such as when he unveiled some targeted and generally accurate critiques of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and war on terror. Kerry pledged never to mislead the nation into war and never to go to war because we want to, only when we have to. He vowed to appoint an attorney general who upheld the Constitution of the United States, in a thinly veiled attack on anti-terror efforts at home.
Kerry, however, lacks credibility on those issues, given that as a United States senator he voted for the war and supported the Patriot Act, which has limited civil liberties at home.
We were somewhat put off by Kerry’s constant reminders about the four months he spent in combat in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The speech started with a salute, and his statement, “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty,” and ended with references to the gunboat he piloted in Vietnam. The speech was sprinkled with similar references, and followed a long video that made much of his war service and little of his long senate career.
In reality, America needs to know far more about the senator’s voting record, no matter how honorable his service in Vietnam. It’s the policy area that might be the toughest part of the Kerry shtick for the public to embrace. In particular, Kerry vowed to repeal tax cuts for the “wealthy,” although the wealthy pay the lion’s share of taxes in America, and cuts for them create jobs and opportunities for everyone else.
He pledged to increase spending on health care, education, Head Start and other social programs. He wasn’t specific, but his health-care solutions lead us to believe the federal government would be far more involved in this matter than it should be. He also tossed around troubling Michael Moore-like lines about Bush and Enron.
Beyond the personal stories and the military imagery, we’re left with a presidential candidate who offers no serious, specific alternative to the current president with regard to military matters and the war in Iraq. Pledging to get international involvement is not an alternative policy. And we’re left with a candidate who is rehashing tired, liberal class-warfare cliches meant to divide the country, even as he pledges to unite it.
“We’re all in the same boat,” he told us, which is what we fear if John Kerry becomes the next president.