Saturday, July 31, 2004

Cheer yourself up with these upbeat appraisals of Kerry's speech. Here's Slate's take on how Kerry hit all the right notes, unleashing the anger Democrats feel towards Bush. And here's more from Salon.com, a premium service that non-subscribers generally can't access:
No retreat, No surrender
Shedding caution, John Kerry takes the fight to George W. Bush -- and gives the speech of his life.
By Tim Grieve and Geraldine Sealey

July 30, 2004 All week long, the Kerry-Edwards campaign has tried to keep a lid on the emotion -- anger about an election stolen, sadness about an America lost -- that is driving the Democrats' desire to oust George W. Bush. Thursday night in Boston, it finally became clear why: Kerry was trying to save it all for himself.

The Democratic presidential nominee stormed into the Fleet Center to Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender," and he never did. Nearly an hour after saying, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty," Kerry was still at his post, delivering a sustained attack on the Bush administration -- and a hopeful plea for the future -- that was as passionate, in Kerry's own way, as any speech Al Sharpton could ever hope to deliver.

"Now, I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities -- and I do -- because some issues just aren't all that simple," Kerry said. "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."

Going straight after the Republican defense of Bush's war on Iraq -- the president didn't lie, he was misled -- Kerry said he 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 will only go to war because we have to."

Kerry, who had been criticized by some Democrats for what they thought was excessive caution in attacking Bush and his policies, started out slowly but electrified the crowd when he took the gloves off. "I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war," he said. "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."

Kerry's speech brought to a close a Democratic Convention unlike any other in recent history. While all of the usual fighting factions were present in Boston, they managed to put on a united front for Kerry. "President Bush once said he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., told the convention earlier Thursday. "Well, congratulations, Mr. President. You have united the Democratic Party in a way that we have not seen in a generation."
Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe took it a step further. "This is the best convention we've ever had," he said in a Fleet Center hallway on Thursday afternoon. "We're more unified and energized than we've ever been. It's going great. Bush is in trouble. Bush is gone."

Karl Rove, events at home and abroad, and voters across America will all eventually have something to say about that, but here's where things stand now. On the national level, pre-convention polls show that the race is essentially tied. Kerry is up by a couple of points in polls from Time, Fox and CNN; Bush is up by a couple in polls from ABC and NBC. In each case, the lead -- be it Bush's or Kerry's -- is within the margin of error.

Ultimately, of course, the national numbers are irrelevant -- just ask Al Gore, who won the national vote and then went home. The Electoral College is what matters, and with most states locked already into one column or the other -- there's no way California or New York will go for Bush, no way Kerry will carry Texas or Wyoming -- the campaigns will spend the next three months focused on a handful of swing states.

According to a pre-convention Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll, Bush has slim leads in Arkansas and West Virginia, Kerry is up in Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington, and the candidates are neck-and-neck in Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida.
The Journal's analysis: If the Zogby results today are an accurate prediction of the vote counts in November, Kerry will be elected president. Events in Iraq or at home could change the political landscape in an instant, but Democrats are clearly feeling optimistic about their chances.

There's more on the Salon website itself. So maybe Kerry will win after all. If you want to make sure that happens, sign up for voter registration work with moveon.org, johnkerry.com or other groups.

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