I realize that in today’s political climate one blog entry is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, and agreeing to disagree is sometimes the best that can be done.
I’m posting about John Kerry’s acceptance speech for those who might still be on the fence, or those that need some validation that Kerry is a viable choice. I’m probably in the latter category, previously not so much for Kerry as against Bush. In Kerry’s speech tonight he strongly articulated a number of viewpoints that I strongly agree with, and did so in a non-negative and persuasive manner. (The transcript is available online.)
I heard the first half of speech this evening while driving the family to supper, and later read the entire thing online. The speech reads well, and the delivery was very powerful; very presidential. Based on what I heard and later read, I feel much more positive towards Kerry and his abilities to actually lead the nation, though the truth is I’ve avoided paying too much attention until very recently … even the next three months could become tedious in terms of the campaigning.
Here is an expanded set of quotes from tonight’s speech that really spoke to me. There was one moment, which luckily occured right as were pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant, when I got unexpectedly very choked up. It struck at the root of the problem with the current war: America simply does not initiate violence without a manifestly clear and present danger.
And as President, I will bring back this nation’s time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.
Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: “I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.”
Additional highlights are quoted in the expanded entry accessible by the “more” link immediately below:
We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we’re true to our ideals — and that starts by telling the truth to the American people.
That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.
I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.
My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime.
Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities — and I do — because some issues just aren’t all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn’t make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn’t make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn’t make it so.
As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system — so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as President, I will bring back this nation’s time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.
I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can’t tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they’re out on patrol at night and they don’t know what’s coming around the next bend. I know what it’s like to write letters home telling your family that everything’s all right when you’re not sure that’s true.
As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war.
Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: “I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.” So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.
And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
Here is the reality: that won’t happen until we have a president who restores America’s respect and leadership — so we don’t have to go it alone in the world.
And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.
I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President
Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.
In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong.
Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.
We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.
And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don’t wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don’t want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God’s side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.
And now it’s our time to ask: What if? What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson’s, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and AIDs? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?
That is the kind of America I will lead as President — an America where we are all in the same boat.