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Tilting at Windmills

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August 28, 2008

KERRY TAKES 'CANDIDATE MCCAIN' TO TASK.... With all the great speakers lined up for the Democratic convention last night, few expected John Kerry to deliver some of the night's most memorable lines. And yet, that's exactly what happened.



"I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years, but every day now I learn something new about Candidate McCain," Kerry said. "To those who still believe in the myth of a 'maverick,' instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to Candidate McCain. Candidate McCain now supports the very war-time tax cuts that Senator McCain once called 'irresponsible.' Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain's own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding me, folks? Talk about being for it before you were against it. Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself."

McCain is arguably one of modern politics' most shameless flip-floppers, and to hear John Kerry have the opportunity to turn the tables on his old friend was strikingly entertaining. It was, to my mind, the best speech I've heard Kerry give. We've all seen Kerry before, but never with this kind of passion.

His forceful response to attacks on patriotism also soared: "This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don't decide who loves this country; you don't decide who is a patriot; you don't decide whose service counts and whose doesn't. Four years ago I said, and I say it again tonight, that the flag doesn't belong to any ideology. It doesn't belong to any political party. It is an enduring symbol of our nation, and it belongs to all the American people. After all, patriotism is not love of power or some cheap trick to win votes; patriotism is love of country."

There must be something liberating about losing a presidential election. After 2000, Al Gore's passion came through. And last night, we saw the same from Kerry.

It was the highlight of the first night of the convention in which the party actually seemed to be firing on all cylinders.

Steve Benen 8:59 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

For purposes of pointing out the differences between the candidates, and mocking the opposition, Kerry's speech was the best of the evening.

Posted by: bubba on August 28, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

I understand that no one except C-SPAN carried Kerry's speech in more than fragments. Lovely. Can't have people rethinking the old "Kerry is a candyass who won't push back on Republicans" narrative.

It was a stellar speech, the best I've ever seen him give. His portrayal of McCain as someone who will ditch all principles and convictions to be the Republican candidate was the most devastating one of the night.

Posted by: shortstop on August 28, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to point how the horror that we've had a public debate on torture. At all. And worse: Republicans and John McCain (!) support it.

What the hell has happened to our country?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on August 28, 2008 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

I have abandoned the networks. The real convention was shown on C-Span. I am bored to tears with the endless and thoughtless musings of the bobbleheads.

If you didn't see Kerry's speech last night. Watch it now. Steve is right. It is the best Kerry speech I have seen. It is full of fire and passion.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 28, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kerry's speech seemed like a smackdown of Bush for what Rove & Co. did to Kerry in 2004. Easily the most fiery speech of the convention so far.

Kerry would be president today, if he had given speeches like that in 2004!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 28, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

I love the Candidate vs. Senator formulation. Hopefully there's a 30 second ad with video of McCain attacking himself.

Why don't the Obama folks release bogus attack ads that they will never pay to air but to create mdeia buzz? It seems silly to complain about McCain doing this when we should be doing it too.


Posted by: Buffalonian on August 28, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

PBS carried Kerry's entire speech. (full disclosure: I work for a Public TV station)

Posted by: art hackett on August 28, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, the PBS coverage did carry Kerry's speech, and as I've told people, if he'd been like that, we'd never have had the 2nd Bush disaster.

Posted by: petrilli on August 28, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

One has to wonder, with all of these apparently strong voices, will they be taking the Republicans to task during their convention and every day thereafter? And why not have them really put their feet to McCain's throat, in the same way that the Republicans really slammed Kerry during 2004 but had Bush stay above the muck?

Posted by: Brian on August 28, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Good to know PBS had it, too. Thanks for the info.

Posted by: shortstop on August 28, 2008 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

it was sad to see kerry so confident and free. made me feel like "what could've been."

Posted by: FLDem on August 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

From time to time, Kerry has spoken this well on the Senate floor; he's obviously a lot more comfortable speaking as a Senator than a presidential candidate. He's never going to be a dynamic speaker like BC but he's smart and can organize his ideas. One does get the sense that he's pissed over what happened in '04 and isn't about to put up with it again.

Posted by: beep52 on August 28, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

This is Exhibit #1324 in the case against the tenured Democratic Consultants.

Bob Shrum, Mark Penn, and the other big name Democratic consultants do active harm to our candidates. Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton are all excellent speakers when they speak their minds instead of mouthing focus-group tripe that's been microtargeted to white Catholic soccer moms between the ages of 30 and 39.

Posted by: AJL on August 28, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

One does get the sense that he's pissed over what happened in '04 and isn't about to put up with it again.

Yes. It's called learning from one's mistakes, something we'll never see McCain or anyone connected with the Bush administration pull off.

Posted by: shortstop on August 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

John Kerry was for John McCain before he was against him.

shortstop: Can't have people rethinking the old "Kerry is a candyass who won't push back on Republicans" narrative.

Kinda like how MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell "asked why not let McCaskill give a 'red meat' speech at the DNC -- McCaskill did, but MSNBC didn't cover"

http://mediamatters.org/items/200808260027?f=h_latest

Posted by: Grumpy on August 28, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's been working overtime to prove that his judgment sucks and his character's a joke.

The more Americans abandon Bush, the more McCain has voted with him.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on August 28, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

I completely agree. I thought Kerry's speech was the evening's best. His tone was perfect as he pointed out some of McCain's more blatant flip-flops, and because of John Kerry's background and stature, I think he is the perfect messenger for this attack. Buffalonian is right, we need to stay with the Candidate vs. Senator theme - McCain's ruthless, naked ambition and Rove-inspired campaign tactics have given us plenty of material to work with.

And C-SPAN is definitely the way to watch the convention. I've become nauseated by even the few analysts I can usually stomach - guess my tolerance just isn't what it used to be.

Posted by: gypsy moth on August 28, 2008 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Can DEMS (i.e Clinton's, Kerry, Biden) please cut the John McCain is my friend...John McCain is an honorable man CRAP
Enough I dont give a rat's ass if McCain is your kid's godfather....we are running a campaign here to decide the fate of this nation not a campaign to make nice with the opponent.

I guarantee you no one at the RNC Convention will make any concession to the historic nature of Obama's nomination or his tireless work for the community.

This is WAR (pardon the expression).

Undecideds dont need to know your personal relationship with the McCain they need to know that the man is UNFIT to be President. Period end of story!!

Posted by: lib4 on August 28, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's been working overtime to prove that his judgment sucks and his character's a joke.

And who knows about it? Not anyone who is watching the vast majority of the MSM. Not anyone who is watching the sanitized version of this convention.

But mark my words, all the networks will be running every single speech at the GOP convention.

Fairness being what it is.

Posted by: MsJoanne on August 28, 2008 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Please Dems, stop saying merely "More of the same." Start saying "Worse than the last 8 years!" Bush II inherited a decent economy and budget surplus. If McCain continues his 'Bushinomics 101' with the economy as it stands, it will be worse than the last 8 years! Much worse!

Posted by: Paul M. Lyren on August 28, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Please Dems, stop saying merely "More of the same." Start saying "Worse than the last 8 years!" Bush II inherited a decent economy and budget surplus. If McCain continues his 'Bushinomics 101' with the economy as it stands, it will be worse than the last 8 years! Much worse!

Posted by: Paul M. Lyren on August 28, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

I got the sense last night that Kerry was taking care of some unfinished business. Like Gore, I don't think Kerry "got over it." He's been keeping his powder dry for the next opportunity to take a lethal shot.

Spot on AJL. The Hillary and Kerry we've seen at this convention glowed, probably due in large part to the fact Mark Penn and his merry band of expensive idiots had nothing to this event.

Posted by: petorado on August 28, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I guarantee you no one at the RNC Convention will make any concession to the historic nature of Obama's nomination or his tireless work for the community...Undecideds dont need to know your personal relationship with the McCain they need to know that the man is UNFIT to be President. Period end of story!!

Two different situations. Biden, Kerry and others have been in the Senate with McCain for decades, have been friendly with him on many occasions and a whole lot of people know it. It's important to acknowledge that before describing how he's changed and tearing him apart for his current positions.

That defuses the GOP's cry of "But you've said nice things about him in the past, so you're a flip-flopper," not least because it gets out there first by noting that today's McCain is the ultimate reverser of position for political gain.

Posted by: shortstop on August 28, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

I have abandoned the networks. The real convention was shown on C-Span. I am bored to tears with the endless and thoughtless musings of the bobbleheads.

Me too. I gave up on them after they talked over Schweitzer's speech with an endless parade of inane drooling chatter. They've lost me as a viewer.

But man, John Kerry brought the fire!

Posted by: Stefan on August 28, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

This new John Kerry is something else. My wife and I were listening on NPR and I was certain that it was somebody else, I guessed Byron Dorgan. Then we turned on the TV and it was as if it were Clark Kent who ran for President in 04, but this guy was Superman.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on August 28, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Senator McCain vs Candidate McCain


BRILLIANT!

Someone buy that guy a beer.

Do you realize the mileage the Dems could get out this?

Posted by: amy on August 28, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the video - half of it was over by the time the idiots at the Coprophilic News Network (CNN) decided to listen up. Kerry definitely pwned McTrollop with this one! Excellent speech.

Posted by: William the trollop on August 28, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

This, ladies and gents, is what happens when you stop listening to the same, failed, political marketing hacks that wrecked the 2000 and 2004 campaigns, and you actually say something with substance and meaning. In short, this is what it looks like when you play to win, and not to avoid loosing.

Posted by: Diogenes on August 28, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Second Diogenes and AJL and shortstop.

And every single speech was an attack on the issues not a personal attack, which is the point of the whole Obama Campaign and 'new politics.'

This is why I've been arguing against the 'unleash the HOUNDS!' cries for more 527s on our side. We don't need them, and people are going to notice the difference, even the 'talking heads.'

And yes, C-SPAN is the way to watch.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on August 28, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I started with MSNBC and switched to CNN where the commenting was slightly less obnoxious, but when they also decided they liked the sound of their own voices more then letting us hear the speakers, I switched to CSPAN. I will try PBS tonight.

Your comments on how losing a Presidential election was liberating, well I think that how you respond to defeat says a lot about one’s true character. Keep that reference in mind as a lens for viewing McCain’s reaction come November.

Posted by: Earlene on August 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

If both Gore and Kerry have come alive after their runs, it seems that campaign managers might be part of the problem, no?

Posted by: Scott on August 28, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

There must be something liberating about losing a presidential election. After 2000, Al Gore's passion came through. And last night, we saw the same from Kerry.

After Kennedy's speech on Monday night a lot of old-timer talking heads, whose experience took them way back to the 1970s and beyond, all remarked on how different Kennedy became after he lost his primary fight against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and essentially gave up on his presidential ambitions. All agreed he became more focused on being a good Senator and an effective Senator and it was best for the country. So there it is, when you have that Presidential ambition you have to walk on eggshells all the time and it is hard for a real person to be himself. George Bush is the ultimate empty suit. He had no problem pretending to be anything the people around him wanted him to be. Same was true of Reagan...who some say was actually an actor by profession.

Posted by: majun on August 28, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

lib4, I disagree. Having the Dems say nice things about Senator McCain reinforces civility (one of Obama's themes) and also highlights the difference between the earlier maverick McCain and current scripted McCain. No one wants another puppet.

Posted by: jen f on August 28, 2008 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"There must be something liberating about losing a presidential election."
Kerry's acceptance speech in 2004 was fantastic and rousing. Al Gore was a fine candidate who was destroyed by the press. Yglesias points out that part of the problem here is not the candidate but the fact that we are told to view him through the filter of his/her apparent ambition.

Posted by: bobbo on August 28, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

lib4, I disagree. Having the Dems say nice things about Senator McCain reinforces civility (one of Obama's themes) and also highlights the difference between the earlier maverick McCain and current scripted McCain. No one wants another puppet.

I'm picturing a great "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" commercial here: "What happened to the John McCain who opposed torture and endless tax cuts? Who is this new person that the Republicans have replaced him with?"

Posted by: Mnemosyne on August 28, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

John. Motherfucking. Kerry.
That is all.

Posted by: Cazart on August 28, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I give Kerry an F for delivery and an A+ for content. MSNBC has the clip of his speech online. I nearly stopped watching when I heard how fast he was speaking and his monotone voice. But what he actually said was right on the money. It was my faorite speech of the night.

Posted by: nicole on August 28, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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