Well the day pretty much belonged to Senator John Kerry.
SPEAKING WITH THE mammoth aircraft carrier USS Yorktown as a backdrop — a setting designed to highlight his war-hero background — Kerry, D-Mass., sharply criticized Bush’s foreign policy as radical swagger, saying his rush to war with Iraq had left the United States isolated and less safe.
I do understand the mentality behind this staging but I kind of cringed at it's obviousness. You get it everybody? This guy actually is a veteran. Yeah I know, subtlety doesn't win elections.
Josh has a pretty good recap of Kerry's Meet The Press appearance. The only thing that bothered me was the way he hedged on the "Is Bush Unintelligent?" question.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the man you’d like to unseat if you become the Democratic nominee, and that’s George Bush. You’d spoke to Vogue magazine in March, and said this. “Kerry is unguarded in his comments about the man whose job he is currently after. He says his colleagues are appalled at the president’s ‘lack of knowledge’... And...he says, ‘They have managed him the same way they managed
Ronald Reagan. They send him out to the press for one event a day, they put him in a brown jacket and jeans and get him to move some hay or drive a truck, and all of a sudden he’s the Marlboro Man. I know this guy. He was two years behind me at Yale, and I knew him, and he’s still the same guy.’”
What does that mean?
SEN. KERRY: I believe that President Bush is a very likable fellow, and I respect—I think he’s a good man who wants to do good things.
MR. RUSSERT: Does he lack knowledge, as you say?
SEN. KERRY: I disagree with the president’s approach to almost everything he’s doing—almost everything. And you look at America and the choices we face today, Tim. On the budget, he’s favoring the wealthy in America at the expense of the middle class. He has ignored the plight of job loss in America. He has gone backwards on the environment, backwards on cities and urban—look, we’ve given a tax cut to people while states are being forced to raise taxes and cut services. He’s gone backwards in the international community. He is not making us safer in the world. He has ignored the problems of North Korea to the point that they’re a crisis. We should be freezing right where we are with North Korea today. We should be dealing with Russia and the problem of loose nuclear materials more effectively. We should be leading the world on global warming.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, you said that you knew him, that he’s the same guy he was at Yale. What does that mean?
SEN. KERRY: I think, Tim, the important thing is, what is he doing as president. As president I don’t believe he’s offering the kind of leadership our country needs. That’s what this struggle is about. This is about the presidency of the United States and the direction of our country. And I believe President Bush is not making our country safer and stronger abroad, and I think he is ignoring the choices here at home
that make a difference to the quality of our life. And, generationally, as a member of the same generation, someone who came from the same institution, I have a very different vision of where America ought to go. I want us to lead.
MR. RUSSERT: But are you appalled by his lack of knowledge?
SEN. KERRY: I am appalled by the lack of his agenda, by the lack of direction, by the lack of leadership, by the lack of willingness to show a vision that takes America to a better place, by his willingness to divide America, to use the politics of wedge, of driving between people, like the Michigan case, or calling things quotas that aren’t quotas, or beginning to—or appointing judges who are ideological, who want to take away
the right of privacy, take away the right to choose, someone who wants to pack the court system of America, someone who doesn’t do the hard work of bringing Congress to the table, and helping to lead us to find the common ground. You know, John McCain and I found the common ground. This president doesn’t try.
He should have stood by his orginal statement. He didn't have to be callous or call him names but simply say. "Tim, he lacks the requisite knowledge of a world leader and in these times that is simply unacceptable."
Eric A. expresses some remorse at having written Kerry off for his supposed lack of charisma. By the way, by what definition does Bush have charisma? Can we be clear on what we mean? Just saying, "Well, people do kinda like him," does not add up to charisma. Every loser has at least one friend. But I digress, here's what Eric now has to say about Kerry.
On the first issue there can be no argument. Hes a great deal more qualified than Bush is. (And has won just as many presidential elections.) In his long career in the Senate he has distinguished himself by being a thoughtful and intelligent critic of the Reagan/Bush foreign policy and did as much as any elected representative to expose their secretiveness and illegality. He clearly knows what hes talking about when he proposes a new national health care system, an energy policy, and the like. And though its been obscured by his gravely mistaken vote to give Bush the power to go to war, he is probably more progressive than Gov. Dean on the panoply of issues a president must address.
I wish Kerry had voted against this ruinous war and I wish he would admit his mistake. I cant make up my mind if his refusal to play to the anti-Bush anger that is (appropriately) driving the nomination process will be a strength or a weakness in a general election. I am endorsing no one, of course. I obviously like what Dean is saying. Im intrigued by a Clark candidacy. And I could live with Dick Gephardt. (I could even live with Lieberman, though I am pretty certain I wont have to.) But I think Kerry has earned the right to a careful look, and I dont mean all that crap about his hair.
Kerry disappointed a lot of people with his vote on Iraq, and his campaign worries me because it has all the snap and vigor of Gore's 2000 campaign. But Kerry has a presence when he talks that reassures me in a way that Dean is lacking. What Dean has is a great campaign. I too am intrigued by the prospect of a Clark candidacy, but I still feel he could do more as a running mate. A Kerry-Clark ticket or a Dean-Clark ticket would make me pretty happy. I'm still leaning toward Kerry-Clark.