Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Kerry's Announcement: Surprise! He's running for president! Yet another shocker: his announcement was heavy on the Vietnam schtick, in word and in symbol. He opened with a nod to former congressman and vet Max Cleland, then called up his gunner from Vietnam. he thanks his family. Then, back to his boat in the Mekong:
And as I look around here and I'm surrounded by the love and affection and respect of my crew mates and veterans who are here today, I am reminded that the best lessons that I learned about being an American came in a place far away from America on that gunboat that Max referred to in the Mekong Delta with a small crew of volunteers.
Then, in a passage ready-made for quoting in wire reports, Kerry summarizes why he's running:
George Bush's vision does not live up to the America I enlisted in the Navy to defend, the America I have fought for in the Senate and the America that I hope to lead as president. And everyday of this campaign, I will challenge George Bush for fundamentally taking our country in the wrong direction.
And some questions are answered. To wit, didn't Kerry vote to authorize using force against Saddam? Turns out he didn't:
I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations.
(Emphasis added.) This looks like the new dodge on the Iraq resolution. Get used to hearing it. And the post-war difficulties in Iraq? Kerry:
Being flown to an aircraft carrier and saying, "Mission accomplished" doesn't end a war.
Is that what the president did? Here's what I remember from Bush on that carrier:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous . . . The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort.
Kerry on diplomacy:
For the Bush administration to reject the participation of allies in the U.N. is a miscalculation of colossal proportions.
It seems to me that our "allies" in the U.N. had every opportunity to help out in any way they wanted, but stalked away in a fit of pique instead; now they won't come back until we agree to play by the mother-may-I rules that allowed Saddam a 12-year lease on life. Kerry continues:
In Iraq and across the world, we must share the burdens with our international allies and the international community. Then and only then can we assemble a worldwide coalition truly sufficient to be able to defeat the terrorists, to keep the most dangerous weapons out of their hands and out of the reach of unstable regimes.
Fat lot of help the U.N. was making Iraq walk the walk; Iran may offer the sequel. And the "international community" didn't seem to care a whit about weapons in the hands of unstable regimes like North Korea until we told them flat out that we wouldn't go to Pyongyang and grovel. The it was suddenly a Major Crisis and a Failure of American Leadership.

Domestic policy:

In World War II, Detroit was the arsenal of democracy. Today, they need to raise their gas mileage and build the vehicles of the future that use clean, renewable energy like ethanol; they need to help move America to energy independence.
Ah, ethanol, the panacea of short-term liberal energy policy. But where do we get the energy required to make ethanol from corn? Anyone? Bueller? From fossil fuels, of course. You need to burn more energy to make ethanol than that ethanol is capable of producing. It's like a metaphor for the federal government!
On energy and the environment, George Bush seeks to undo the progress of 30 years under presidents of both parties. His clean skies--his Clear Skies Initiative actually means dirtier air. His healthy forest proposal actually means cutting down trees. He proposed to let the oil industry--friends of his--drill in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge.
Wait, even some environmentalists think Clear Skies will help more than the policy it replaced. (More here.) Nobody who isn't a charter member of the Julia Butterfly Hill Church of the Sacred Bark is opposed to cutting down trees to improve forests. Disagree with how much cutting needs to be done, but oppose it in general and you take responsibility for the resulting fires. And as for ANWR drilling, mentioning that Bush has friends in the oil industry is cute in a typically sleazy and insinuating way, but it's not an argument against drilling.
The truth is that prosperity doesn't come from pollution. The most powerful economic engine in this nation has always been opportunity; the ability for anyone from any start in life to get a good education, to go to work, to start a business, to take an idea and to change the world.
No doubt you're always bumping into the organic hemp farmers who are the backbone of employment for semi-skilled workers in America. Look, nobody said prosperity comes from pollution, but it is a cost to facter into the cost-benefit evaluation. We pollute more than, say, Ethiopia. But we live twice as long. Worth thinking about.
As a senator, I was proud to work with President Bill Clinton to turnaround the last Bush downturn.
Any fair-minded observer would be forced to admit that the last "Bush downturn" was well into recovery before Clinton came to office -- at which point Clinton stalled the recovering economy again with tax hikes. And the current economy seems to be recovering nicely, despite the fact that Kerry hasn't been around to help much.

After that Kerry spins off into some hackneyed potshots, like this:

Dick Cheney's old company Halliburton, it has 58 offshore tax havens. And the Bush administration's response is to hand Halliburton a $7 billion no-bid contract. My response as president will be no more lavish government-funded life support for favored corporations.
Actually, Clinton gave that contract to Halliburton. Bush just renewed it -- after the appropriate bidding had taken place. As usual, there are two possibilities here: Either (1) Kerry is too ignorant to know how government contracting works, in which case he's too dumb to be president, or (2) he knows exactly how it works but likes how this cheap dig sounds, in which case he's too unscrupulous to be president.
And my fellow Americans, a tax code that once ran 14 pages now takes up 17,000 pages, filled with twists and turns and customized loopholes.
Actually, Senator, you and your buddies on the hill built that tax code, one incentive at a time. Congress has the power to fix this problem, you know. In fact, for years you've had the right to sponsor legislation reforming the tax code. Why didn't you?
Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was cured because as a United States senator, I was lucky to have some of the best medical care in the world. Millions of our fellow citizens are not so lucky . . .
I don't think luck has much to do with it. I think the benefits package that comes with being a career legislative hack in D.C. is just a case of those hacks being generous to each other with my money. Like when you give yourselves raises for the bang-up job you're doing.
A just America demands a Supreme Court that honors our Constitution, and it demands an attorney general whose name is not John Ashcroft.
Wow, where to begin with this one? (Here, for starters.) This is about as reasonable as Kerry's view on "settled law" -- an implicit argument against the reversal of Dred Scott. But it's red meat (er, red miso?) for the sandals-n'-dreads crowd rocking Howard Dean's bus.

In closing:

Today, I ask all of you to enlist in a mission that is bigger than any of us . . . And I hope to be the president who asks all of us to serve, because in the end the ideals of this nation will not be realized by presidential decree, but by national service that can only be measured in the countless individual acts and of a commitment to do what's right for America . . .
Is it me, or did he just do a Joe Biden on John McCain's 2000 stump groove?
I am honored to join you in this endeavor as a candidate for president of the United States. Thank you and God bless you all.
Which God do you suppose he means? And don't you find it offensive to be blessed without your permission? Oh, those Taliban Democrats!

John Kerry: In your heart, you know he's . . . er . . . running for president.

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