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Friday, July 30, 2004

The Boston Rag (Part 3)

I loved Sen. Kerry's convention speech last night. I think both "We can do better" and "Hope is on the way" are great themes to invoke - trying to draw the starkest possible contrasts between the Kerry/Edwards ticket possible without veering too far into negativism.

A lot of swing voters want to be reassured that, no, it is not the case that a Democratic administration wouldbe "weak on terror" or "weak on national security."

The best line of the speech was when he quoted Lincoln saying that, rather than saying that God was on our side, hoping that we were on God's side.

The few digs at the Bush administration contained in the speech were relatively vague and attacked policy positions rather than personal character, which is the right move. If the Democrats keep the argument in that arena, it would make Bush and Cheney look like the villains if they decided to go into more personal issues. Most Presidential elections where there is an incumbent are more about that incumbent than they are about the challenger at any rate.

I originally backed Howard Dean because I thought - the "scream" notwithstanding - that he had experience as an executive and that the language and customs of the Senate do not translate well to the stage of a Presidential election. It used to worry me that Kerry, for serving two decades in the Senate, did not have a long list of legislative "accomplishments" to point to, but one of the historians on the panel analyzing the convention for PBS pointed out that the same could be said of John Kennedy and Warren Harding, the only two men to go directly from the Senate to the White House in the last century. The legendary legislators of the Senate - Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Bob Dole, Robert Taft, Pat Moynihan - by and large weren't well suited to Presidential politics.

Many in the news media were looking for some photo-negative of the 1992 Republican Convention, with one red-meat appeal after another. They were looking for a Democratic Party that could be easily caricatured as the party of Manhattan, Cambridge, Berkeley, and Hollywood, and no one in between. Though there were speakers preaching old-time Democratic religion to be sure, the bulk of the convention was an appeal to a nation.

I like our chances in November a little better than I did at the beignning of the week.


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