Boy, was last night a night of contrasts. It started off with what I thought was a very bad, and somewhat bizarre, speech by Ted Kennedy. As recognized by Ezra Klein and others, this was one of Kennedy’s major faux pas:
"In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation when he said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’ Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush."
Kennedy doesn’t get it, I guess. The awful thing about Bush is his fear-mongering, and Roosevelt’s quote points out the WRONGness of fear-mongering. Kennedy takes that wonderful quote . . . and turns it on its head. He uses it to fear-monger against Bush. Bad, Ted. Bad!
Kennedy also said some rather bizarre things. I don’t have a transcript, but I could have sworn that Kennedy "invited" Bush to another Boston tea party a few blocks down the road from the convention hall. What was Kennedy suggesting? That we DROWN the President?
And then he suggested that if Bush hadn’t been elected, Cheney would still be CEO of Halliburton and would have ended up in an "undisclosed location". I pretty sure that’s the phrase Kennedy used — "undisclosed location". Again, what does that mean? Six feet under?!?
WTF with all this cloak-and-dagger stuff, Ted? He was getting a little to Ann Coulter-ish for my blood.
Anyway, HE spoke, and Gephardt spoke, and Dean spoke, and it then it happened. The dawn of a new day broke, and suddenly all of them — Kennedy, Gephardt, Dean, and even Clinton — looked like ghosts of the Democratic Party past. Yes, I’m talking about . . .
This guy is the real deal. His speech left every conservative pundit speechless. Because he eloquently defined America, and the so-called values of the so-called "liberals", in these wonderful words:
If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.
If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.
If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work.
The audience went nuts. And then, he blunted conservative critics by rejecting their partisanship:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats.
But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
But everyone owes it to themselves to read his entire speech, found here. I tell you again — he’s going to be your President someday, so you better warm up to him soon.
Oh, Theresa Heinz Kerry spoke, too. Her speech was somewhat meandering, but in a way, it was a good companion speech to Obama’s. You know — the future of America thing. Her focus was on women, of course — and how women ought to be acknowledged for thier wisdom and good sense, rather than being dismissed for being "opinionated" and bitchy. You go, girl! She’s no doormat housewife, so you can bet Republicans won’t like her very much.
And all the while, I kept thinking — the Republican convention is going to be full of old white guys, except for the occasional token they will wheel out (Look! There’s a woman! Look, I see a black guy!). What a contrast to both the floor and the stage of the Fleet Center, where — for the first time perhaps ever — the REAL America, culturally diverse and rich, was represented in all its glory.