Monday, July 26, 2004

An Honest Look at John Kerry

We'll be hearing a lot about John Kerry and John Edwards this week. Some of the media portrayals will be flattering, some won't. Either way, most of the short soundbites won't capture the essence of Kerry as well as the profile written by Thomas Oliphant in "The American Prospect":

It’s also helpful to know that his comeback was political and personal, but -- quite contrary to the “flip-flop” label the Bush team has sought to stick on him -- it did not involve a single change in his approach to the big questions of our day. Normally, positions on issues don’t work well for me as clues to a presidency, or as stand-alone reasons to be for someone. In Kerry’s case, however, he has made three contributions -- in health care, on energy, and in foreign policy -- to the national discussion over the past year that are vintage Kerry and powerful evidence of how his political mind works. They are not derivative, and, in each instance, the contributions were formulated not by the pollsters or the advisers but by Kerry himself.
I pulled the above paragraph out of the article because it's the lead-in to a very broad discussion on three of the most important topics facing America this year (and probably for the foreseeable future). What Oliphant articulates so well is that, if anyone cares to look beyond negative 30 second soundbites from BushCo advertisements, John Kerry has a vision. It's a vision that's been shaped by years of experience in dealing with all of these issues on a national level.

I think we can all agree that George Bush was not prepared or up to the task when he took office. Just the fact that neocons keep making apologies for Bush and 9/11 by saying, "Well, he was only in office 7-1/2 months..." shows you that Bush was learning on the job and still hadn't taken off the training wheels.

Well, four years later, the Bush training wheels are off the bike of state. His bike has two flat tires. Someone stole the pedals. And no one can find the handlebars to steer the bike.

Kerry might not be the most charismatic and engaging person in the world, but I've seen him grow tremendously in that attribute. What is unquestionable is that he has the resume to do the job. He's taken unpopular stands at unpopular times. He is not the flip-flopper that the neoclowns would have you believe. Indeed, a very good case could be made that the "flip flop" tag of derision could be squarely pinned on the shoulders of George W. Bush.

So, this week, John Kerry gets to re-introduce himself to America, on his terms. Let's hope America likes what it sees.