Thomas Oliphant: Kerry's Roads Not Taken

We’ve said it here many times, Kerry was right. While the right wing spin doctors try to paint a dark picture of John Kerry’s speech on Monday, Thomas Oliphant reminds us of the roads not taken – Kerry’s Roads Not Taken. Thomas Oliphant is right… Kerry “happens to be correct.”

SUPPOSE WE had a president, with barely seven months in office, pushing Congress to confront the energy crisis and stop the insane importing of oil from the Middle East.

That was the road not taken before Katrina, remember?

Suppose we had a president who had challenged the lobbyist-run Congress long before Katrina produced gargantuan costs that cannot be paid honestly: His veto would block the extension of those juicy tax cuts for wealthy investors that expire in a few years in order to force a reestablishment of the best Social Security reform of all — fiscal sanity.

That was another road not taken, remember?

And imagine a restoration of Bill Clinton’s simple proposition that recovery from disasters, natural or terrorist, is too important to be left to incompetent political cronies, and is led by a guy who is delightfully ignorant of patronage politics.

Still another road not taken.

As John Kerry had the temerity to say this week in Rhode Island: ”Today more than ever, when the path taken last year and four years earlier takes us into a wilderness of missed opportunities, we need to keep defining the critical choices over and over, offering a direction not taken but still open in the future.”

Or, as he also said, ”Katrina reminds us that too often the political contests of our time have been described like football games with color commentary: One team of consultants against another, red states against blue states, Democratic money against Republican money; a contest of height versus hair — sometimes. But the truth is democracy is not a game; we are losing precious time each day in a different America than the one we can inhabit if we make different choices.

I am aware how chic it is during the year following a presidential election to jump down the throat of the poor slob who lost, trumpeting a hindsight that wasn’t clear until long past midnight on Election Day. Deconstructing Kerry’s screed the other day would also be easy in that honored context — except for one little point.

A great many Americans have been first shocked and then angered at the mess Bush has made of his reelection this year, even before a botched response to a tragic event made them furious. Kerry spoke for them this week, calling Bush out after a grotesque campaign that sold the absurd proposition that only the president could keep the nation safe and secure and that Kerry couldn’t.

In letting loose on what he aptly called the Katrina administration, Kerry reminded me of a more enduring truth about postelection politics. The out party is actually at its best, not its worst, when it offers a diversity of approaches as the endless cycle continues. For a disparate collection of potential voters, the picture is more like a cafeteria line. You can pick genuine outrage at what has transpired (Kerry); you can press an issue that emphasizes the future and your past (John Edwards on poverty); you can even stay relatively quiet in the knowledge that the 2008 nomination won’t be decided this year (Governors Tom Vilsack or Mark Warner or Senator Hillary Clinton).

Nobody is better qualified than John Kerry to remind us that a choice was made last year. That is especially true given his intention to speak out on major issues in depth in the coming weeks, free now from agitprop about gay marriage and lies about his Navy record. Obviously the big one will be Iraq, about which he gets one more chance to point a clear way forward or out or both. Nobody has higher standing than Kerry to say, as he did yesterday, that the Senate should not trust Bush’s or John Roberts’s evidence-free claims of ”modesty” where the Supreme Court is concerned.

The sad irony is that there are glimmers of what should be in the Gulf Coast outrage. Instead of following the influence-peddling of Bushies and rapacious corporate buddies looking for reconstruction loot, I am intrigued by a small outfit out of Wichita, Corporate Lodging Consultants. In addition to its expertise in booking hotel rooms for clients, it has long worked to help house Red Cross first responders during disasters.

But in the face of an unprecedented need over Labor Day, it rewrote its software and geared up to book evacuees, responding to the Red Cross’s inspired idea that hotels could qualify victims quicker than it could. The result, last I checked, was that some 70,000 families have been placed in rooms not just in the region but from Vermont to Hawaii as well, based simply on proof they come from a qualifying zip code.

Instead of Bush-devastated FEMA, there is the one government agency that didn’t wait while the waters were rising in New Orleans but simply went out and rescued people. Those Coast Guard helicopters mock Bush’s excuses and his advisers’ spin.

So what if Kerry took note of ”the steady clucking of administration chickens coming home to roost”? He happens to be correct.

Kerry spoke for me this week, and every frustrated American who sees through the sham and the flim flam; he spoke for those who still believe that the change starts here… That’s not a cliche, or campaign slogan, that is reality…

I still believe America’s destiny is to become a living testament to what free human beings can accomplish by acting in unity.

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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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17 Responses to Thomas Oliphant: Kerry's Roads Not Taken

  1. SteveAudio says:

    Nicely said, Pamela. We missed you Sunday, it was fun.

  2. beachmom says:

    At last, someone in the MSM acknowledged how important Kerry’s speech was. For a while I was beginning to think I was crazy, living in some bizarro parallel universe, where one of the best speeches I have read in modern times was largely ignored, save a few big newspapers that merely reported about him in a mostly cynical fashion. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Donnie From Houma, LA says:

    Kerry’s words ring true, at a time when vision and leadership is most needed.

  4. Teresa says:

    Why aren’t people recognizing the severity of the crisis and realizing the leadership Kerry is offering?
    It worries me that the denial continues. Maybe just a little more time. How horrible to criticize him now for speaking the truth. What in the world are they protecting? I’m worried about the self destructiveness of people.

  5. Flamethrower says:

    We had the money, we had the candidate. He didn’t dispel the lies like he should have. This cost us all.

    Rove’s machine was going to take no prisoners, and didn’t. WE could all see it coming a million miles away.

    Kerry should have fought to the death last November. I did.

    Kerry learned this lesson too late…….

  6. Ron Chusid says:

    Kerry fought hard, as hard as anyone could have. He tried to dispel the lies, but they are so good at speading them. Removing an incumbent during time of war is quite difficult.

  7. Teresa says:

    No one could have dispelled the lies. The public was too eager to believe them.

  8. Nick says:


    Exactly what do you mean by “fighting to the death?” Specific criticism of Kerry (or anybody) is one thing- it can usually be corroborated or refuted. Platitudes can rarely be corroborated or refuted.

  9. Ron Chusid says:


    I believe that not “fighting to the death” means he lost. It’s a no win situation. They don’t realize that it is possible that a candidate may lose no matter what they do, and failure to win is reason in itself to bash the candidate.

  10. Dave from Princeton says:

    Pamela, thanks for added the link for whatisworth. I think that one was my favorite Murad remixes. That boy has talent! I listened to it again a couple times today already.

    Besides the great choice of the song, I just loved the way he tied it all together so well. Esp the intermixing of the first JFK’s snippets from some of his old speeches with the snippets from some of the 2nd JFK’s 2004 campaign events.

  11. Dave from Princeton

    I was wondering if anyone caught that hidden gem!

  12. Donnie From Houma, LA says:

    Pamela, that gem really was prophetic as to what is going on right now. What with Bush’s throne crumbling underneath him, the protest, the complete failure of his policies, and his admin. being questioned on wrongdoings. It gave me chills to listen to it.

  13. BlueWashington says:

    Hey Flamethrower and anyone else!

    Yeah Kerry didn’t win last year and that reaally sucked. The campaon could have been run better, it wasn’t – that really sucked, too.

    But since you and yours tend to want to line failed campains up in front of the firing squad, let’s not forget all those fabulous campains for House and Senate seats – did they all suck too?

    I don’t think so. Give credit (this sticks in my throat) to where credit is due. BUSH’S BRAIN!!! (Karl Rove) Bush himself was to stupid to do it himself, but his Brain! His ingenious Brain – the bastard – and yelling “9/11” at every chance BushCo got. Scare the sheepeople! Throw gay marriage at’em! Amend state constitutions!

    Congrats Bush’e Brain! You saved Shrub and GOPer Majority in Congress!

    If I hear one more person complain about Kerry’s cainpain, ask’m about the Dem majority that was voted into Congress in ’04 – use lots of sarcasm; I like sarcasm.


  14. Blue Washington

    LOL! They could all learn something from Donnie from Houma.

  15. Carol DW says:

    What if we had a congressman from Massachusettes that listened to his constituents, Middle East experts and our generals and supported withdrawal of troops from Iraq instead of listening to the lame duck pollsters hired by the DLC?

  16. Ummm… Carol DW

    He does listen to Middle East exports, our generals, etc. He does support building a strong coalition to take over in Iraq so we can withdraw. He doesn’t listen to DLC pollsters and FYI:

    You’ve come to the wrong blog to be bashing Kerry. Take it somewhere else if that is your interest.