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July 28, 2004

Edwards' Speech

Tonight i realized that i could really like John Edwards. Not just because he's a good speaker (not quite as polished as Clinton, but he's getting there), but because his speech tonight was worthy of a Republican. No really. Change a few details, tone down the "two Americas schtick, and i could totally imagine GWB giving the same speech.

Edwards was patriotic, he praised the sacrifices of our armed forces with sincerity, and he talked about the everyday struggles of the average American without promising a Clintonesque shitload of handouts. His solution to the problem of outsourcing sounded reasonable to me. i liked what i heard. Didn't believe him for a moment. But i liked what i heard.

Edwards' speech was most notable for what was left out. And that got me thinking. Why is everybody applauding and going crazy over him? Perhaps because he's not Bush or Cheney. Because he definitely omitted everything that today's democrat really cares about.

The word "abortion" did not appear, nor did he mention "a woman's right to choose." He never mentioned gay marriage. He never said the Iraq war was a mistake, or that it was illegal, or that we should get out. He never equated Abu Ghraib with Saddam's atrocities. In fact, the most surprising line of the night was this:

And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaida and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you. [emphasis mine]
Not "stop you," not "hunt you down," not "bring you to justice." He said "destroy." That's real tough talk, and i can do nothing but applaud him for it, even while i seriously doubt Kerry's ability to improve on the strategy we have been pursuing for three years already.

It's real interesting that Edwards would give such a patriotic pro-war speech when, as Peter Comejo pointed out on the Hogue show this morning, ninety five percent of the delegates in the audience are anti-war, think the war was a mistake and want us to get out immediately. Yet they cheered Edwards words as loudly as a bunch of Republicans would. i guess "anyone but Bush" is really all that matters to them. Edwards could have gotten up there and promised to attack France and they would have raised the roof.

Many, i would say most, die-hard modern Democrats are drawn to the party over only a handful of issues. Compassion issues are part of it, like gay marriage and affirmative action. But there's also fear and hatred issues. Fear of losing the ability to have abortions. Hatred of Christianity, traditional Judaism and the standards of behavior those faiths represent.

That's why i can't understand why Edwards would have the audacity to close his speech with the words "Thank you, God bless you and God bless the United States of America!" But i am not surprised to see that the "official" text of the speech on the John Kerry for President website omits the final eight words. The substantial "Newdow wing" of the party might have let that offensive Republican sounding line slide last night, but they certainly wouldn't want it memorialized in print forever.

Update: Don't believe me? Listen to Jonah Goldberg, he saw this coming.

This is the logic of hate. It lets convention delegates who by every measure are far to the left of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, let alone the American public, cheer a candidate who has spent the past few months holding something of a fire sale on Democratic principles. According to a New York Times survey of delegates, 9 out of 10 say they think Iraq was a mistake and 5 out of 6 say the war on terrorism and national security aren't that important; yet Kerry is surrounding himself with soldiers to the point where it wouldn't be shocking if delegates were required to wear camo fatigues. Even Ted Kennedy would be hard-pressed to play a drinking game in which players had to swig every time the words "Vietnam" or "war hero" come up in Democratic speeches.

Kerry's waxing philosophic about how life begins at conception, but the activists still wear abortion-on-demand buttons. And the delegates serve as little more than an infomercial studio audience who applaud on cue, just as they would if Ron Popeil demonstrated how his new gadget makes curly fries in just a few seconds. The point of this Potemkin unity is to seduce moderates and swing voters into believing that Kerry's their guy.

Posted by annika, Jul. 28, 2004 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


Maybe it was the many times he said "I wanna talk", maybe it was the saturation of populist themes or that hint of grandstanding I hear in the cadence of his speech. Regardless, one thing I am sure of is that John Edwards thinks we're stupid. Last night he gave nearly every inconsistent and ill-thought reason why we should convict Bush, as if the sheer volume of words would be enough. Then he tried to sell some fiction of some hard-up mom out in hard-up America whose husband got sent to hard-up Iraq. I'm sorry but that was a flub and I liked it better anyway when Matthew McConaughey delivered it in A Time To Kill.

Then he ended it all with a meaningless chant of "Hope". The only hope of the DNC delegates is rooted in their dislike of Bush. The hope of the Kerry campaign is that they can pull off appearing centrist despite having one of the most liberal tickets ever. How these hopes bear fruit will reflect just how right John Edwards is about our stupidity.

Posted by: Scof on Jul. 29, 2004

I don't see how that neo-Bolshevik class warfare, it's hard to get ahead, the government is here to give you a handout crap could be seen as anything other than the tax-and-spend liberalism of the past. He's appalling. He basically says socialist nonsense with a smiley face. There's nothing conservative in his agenda; he thinks the government is there to help people avoid the struggle of living in a competitive economy. Sell that shit in France.

The only thing they really say about the military and foreign policy is they'll give the troops a pay raise and that they'll charm Europe into sending its nonexistent troops to help us. It's like waving a magic wand. These are not at all serious people.

Posted by: roach on Jul. 29, 2004

Wrong. Annika. Edwards was a total liberal boob. Sorry, but I'm gonna have to disagree with ya on this one...

Posted by: Jason H. on Jul. 29, 2004

I agree with roach. These are not serious people. Another thing, the "Two Americas" speech is inherently contradictory. The wealthy keeps the middle-class and poor down? Please. What about Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? And, let's not forget the son of a mill worker (supervisor) by the name of John Edwards. All started relatively poor (if that) and ended up incredibly wealthy. If anything, they should be embracing the can-do spirit of this country, not playing smiley, slick class-warfare.

Posted by: Blake on Jul. 29, 2004

i should clarify. i didn't say his speech was worthy of a "conservative." i said "Republican" and i meant Republican in the way the GWB understands it, which is basically what a Democrat used to be a few decades ago. That's in addition to the fact that Edwards' speech should not be taken at face value. If elected, Kerry will do just what we conservatives fear he will do. He is a liberal in the worst sense of the word. Edwards was just blowing smoke up the ass of the undecided voters last night.

Posted by: annika on Jul. 29, 2004

A few decades ago the democrats were Jimmy Carter...

Posted by: Dawn Summers on Jul. 29, 2004

Heh, even Jimmy Carter ain't what he used to be.

Posted by: annika! on Jul. 29, 2004

And that's a pretty damning comment: Carter was an unmitigated disaster as president, but he's WAY worse now.

I'm pretty sure you were looking back a bit further than that: the original JFK would have found himself in agreement with or to the right of most of GWB's current positions.

Posted by: Dave J on Jul. 29, 2004