And, I, Sir, accept your acceptance
I’ve never been a fan of the using the word “service” to describe holding political office.
I spent two semesters “serving” my classmates in the Yale dining hall. What Presidents, Senators and congresspeople do, doesn’t even come close.
I want my elected officials to work: work for me, my city, my state and my country.
Last night, as I watched John Kerry wipe the sweat from his brow mid-way through the best acceptance speech given in my lifetime, I knew that he would be a President who worked. And, (go chiastic) he worked as President.
The tone for me was set when Lt. Jim Rassman said “nobody asked me to join this campaign…I volunteered.” The look of anger and hurt in his eyes, framed by the resolve of his face and stoic stance, made my eyes well up to think that people would attack him to try to gain a political advantage over a candidate. (For the record, I am certain that Kerry’s rivals to the Democratic nomination engaged in it, so this isn’t a Republican critique. That will come later.) The line of men standing behind him on the stage, Senator Cleland’s moving tale of how he lay, struggling to get up from the street in front of the White House — it all made me appreciate that John Kerry’s service in Vietnam isn’t just a punchline or a photo op; it matters.
Certainly, it’s not the most important thing or the winning argument. If my family in the military or my friends who have recently enlisted are shot in Afghanistan or taken hostage in Iraq, I can’t imagine that I would ask to see their wounds or the calculate length of their capture to measure the worth of their sacrifice. Snide remarks about “scratches” and cracks about “four-months” are unconscionable. Jessica Lynch spent less than a month in Iraq and when she encountered enemy fire, spent most of the battle on her knees crying and praying. But I challenge anyone to belittle her contribution, mock her service.
In that moment when John Kerry stepped up to the podium and said he was reporting for duty, the contrast between him and his opponent was pointedly clear. And Kerry didn’t miss a step for the next 46 minutes.
Not once did I look a my watch, not once did I wince or cover my ears begging him to stop talking. And when he was done I couldn’t remember Clinton’s speech or Obama or even Edwards. Indeed, I couldn’t imagine any one else standing on that stage ready to face Bush in November.
Kerry is not a compromise candidate, the guy who’ll do — he’s the best of the Democratic party and (fingers crossed) America will see that he’s the best our country’s got.
Kerry’s a man that knows that “warfare” isn’t rolling back tax cuts on the wealthiest 2 percent in order to pay for armor for our soldiers or for benefits for seniors and the poor. He knows “warfare,” with all due respect Mary Matalin, is young people holding weapons in foreign lands as they march through uncertain dangers — not ending corporate welfare for companies that pay their CEOs 7 figures, while shipping jobs overseas to save a buck or two an hour in wages for the people who do the real work.
Contrast the image of Bush chopping up trees, with Kerry’s “cathedrals of nature.” Bush’s bible-thumping “God is on our side,” with Kerry’s humble prayer that he may be on God’s side. Kerry’s bold “what if” vision of using the Federal Government’s spending power and the bully pulpit of the Presidency to find cures for autoimmune diseases that are killing Americans in the millions, with Bush’s use of the White House to inject discrimination into the Constitution and increase government controls on civil liberties.
I can’t recall ever rooting for Kerry before, but last night he became the obvious choice for President. His speech was that good (Although, his line about us all being American “red, white and blue,” did prompt a reflexive “Why it gotta be white!”).
This morning I watched the pundits interview Republicans and their rebuttals were flimsy.
“But…but, he’s made himself over” and “where are the specifics?” Putting aside the humor of the the party of vague warnings and redacted documents, now clamoring for details and specifics, I thought Kerry did a great job of laying out his plans: cutting waste, fighting a smarter, more effective war and re-engaging in diplomacy. I love that John Kerry understands that law and order, starts with law. His vision doesn’t include cutting and pasting the protections of the Constitution as he sees fit; it’s too important a cornerstone to our democracy.
That Kerry was the “most liberal member of the Senate for 20 years,” ummm, ok Paul Wellstone and/or Russ Feingold may have a thing or two to say about that (ok, Wellstone, not so much), but hey, I’m ok with that. As Kerry said in his speech, he also worked with the most conservative member of the Senate, John McCain and that tells me, he can possibly bring this country together again.
I realized why Kerry seemed so stilted during the primaries. He is not made for spewing catchphrases and slogans; the worst part of last night was the “Hope is on the way” chanting. He is a leader, a major player, not — a cheerleader. Many say that George Bush found his voice on the rubble of the Twin Towers; there his presidency was born. I disagree, I simply saw a man who knows a thing or two about shouting through a megaphone.
Last night, I saw a President.
Kerry may not beat Bush, but hopefully he’ll run again in 2008. I think he was born for (and in, I guess) the West Wing. I’ll be working to help him acheive that.
I don’t know, somewhere in the process of falling in line, I fell in love.
And, I, Sir, accept your acceptance