What Was Particularly Effective About Kerry’s Health Care Speech

So I voted for John Kerry, so I’m partisan, so my favorite baseball team is suffering through it’s 9th straight sub-500 season (or is it me who’s doing the suffering?) blah-blah-blah.

The Kerry healthcare speech yesterday, gotta love it! Any Democrat (or anybody to the left of Dick “I really do shoot first” Cheney) can find their personal favorite parts of the speech. But here are mine:

1. Attack Wal-Mart a.k.a. “the Bully from Bentonville.” You wanna show your on the side of the working people of this country? You wanna show you “value work over wealth”? Do the opposite of Wal-Mart. Kerry does this in spades. (I don’t just mean politicians, but all business people large or small. If you willingly follow the Wal-Mart model, then your soul is following the devil).

As someone with loved ones who have worked at Wal-Mart I am in a good position to know.

2. “As Democrats, we have to take up the cause and refuse to back down. We can’t triangulate this issue; no, we have to go to the heart of it— affordable health care for every American.”

Suck on that Dick Morris! (pun intended). For those who don’t know, Dick Morris is a political consultant and former Dem turned right-winger (in the 1980s) who championed Clinton’s “triangulation” turn in 1996 (aka freezing Dems out in the cold).

Before that, he had been a close Clinton adviser in Arkansas in the 1980s (recommended to Bill by Hillary). In between he served as top advisers to the Senate campaigns of Trent Lott and Jesse Helms!

It’s clear Kerry is taking a stand and not afraid to choose sides. No Democrats don’t have to be “divisive” or “incite class warfare” to win (that’s BushCo.’s job). But as “JFK I” said as he prepared to propose what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “there comes a time when a man must take a stand.”

3. Rejecting Reagan’s ideology-but accepting his political street-fighting logic. Why should JK not re-propose his plan? It’s a good plan. Besides JK said during the campaign he knows his helath care plan, like all health care proposals, could always be made better, so he was open to sensible amendements. I’ll put my money where my mouth is and offer two suggestions here: To help those buy into the government’s health care plan-rather than a tax credit make it a one-time wage subsidy that is earmarked for buying into the government’s health care plan (allow businesses to write off the wage subsidy on their taxes). Also, for the unemployed, have the feds put the subsidy into an unemployment insurance check(s).

Politically, what Kerry is doing is taking a page not from Bill Clinton-but Ronald Reagan. At the beginning of the 2000 election, liberal columnist William Greider wrote “I find myself feeling nostalgia for the stubborn clarity of Ronald Reagan– a leader who believed in a few big things, who repeated them endlessly, never backed off and never admitted defeat, though he frequently lost. The Gipper accomplished great forward progress for his way of thinking.

“Clinton instead has talked romantically about a far horizon of progress, then backed away from the messy political conflicts that might actually move the country toward it. The most serious omissions of his presidency define his failure, but are not even talked about in this campaign because he never took up the fight for them. He leaves no legacy on a lot of tough issues, except that he ducked.”

No ducking here! While there are those on the left who hold elected leaders to impossibly high standards, (and castigate you as Bush lite if you disagree with them on anything) it is true Democrats have often caved in-rather than have a workable political strategy or at least take the view of “we’ll win to have our ideas implemented-or go down swinging.” While this has changed somewhat in the past few years (lord knows there are a lot of fighters on the Democrat side) too often in the 80s and 90s Democrats could justifiably be criticized for trying to be too-cute-by-half. Between this speech and several actions taken by the minority Democrats since 2002, (e.g. Standing up to Soc. Security privatization, the recent petition for a pullout date in Iraq ,etc.) it becomes more clear that Democrats may not always win, they will not be bullied.

That is what Bush and the neo-cons are: not conservatives, but bullies. There are plenty of political and ideological ground for liberals to criticize the likes of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., Robert Taft, etc. But these leaders were not crooked, or bullies. Today’s so-called leaders are not only crooked, they’re bullies-like Joe McCarthy bullied everyone and the pre-Gorbachev Soviets bullied Eastern Europe.

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About Nick

Teacher of Social Studies. Born in the 1970s. History major, music minor. Big Baseball fan. Economic progressive.
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12 Responses to What Was Particularly Effective About Kerry’s Health Care Speech

  1. Stellar post Nick! Spot on!

  2. mbk says:

    I was there, and it was even better in person as on paper. And, yes, I LOVED that triangulation remark! Wonderful!

    Great remarks, Nick. BUT:maybe it’s because I’m oversensitive as an ex-Californian who had to endure RR as both governor and president (ENOUGH already–remember that it was RR who inaugurated this pathological era. .), but I find myself resisting the Reagan parallels., I think Kerry is taking a page not so much from Reagan,as from HIMSELF. And that’s why he’s been so effective of late. This is all coming from his core (or at least that’s how it feels to me as an outsider. . ). It’s not just about the clarity , but about the THOUGHTFUL clarity. JK (unlike RR) is is almost the antithesis of communication-by-cue-cards.

  3. Ginny in CO says:


    I think you almost got it perfect.

    JK IS the antithesis of communication-by-cue-cards. 🙂

    “THOUGHTFUL clarity” YES, very good description.

    I have a problem in comparing people too. More than one person can figure out the right things to do. Sometimes they get there by different reasoning or logic, but they get to the same place.

  4. Teresa says:

    I think this is the slot Kerry’s been preparing for all his life and it is his alone. I definitely agree with mbk that this is coming from his core. I think it’s even on some kind of automatic pilot as he gives voice to something unique in American politics. His genuine nature is now emerging and I’ve noticed the new respect around the blogosphere. His time has come, and none too soon or too late. He is in his prime, and the country is ready. He’s advanced, beyond what we’ve seen in presidents in our lifetimes, and I am expectant and so curious as to what he will accomplish.

    I always take my cues from him, and his lack of hysteria concerning the Middle East, and his focus on domestic issues while the panic marches on, tells me that he knows something, and that we are ready to move on under his leadership.

    The health care is real to him. He loves children and he means this.

  5. {{{{Teresa}}}} How are you sweety? Bet you were suprised to see me on your blog huh? Kerry is the man!!

  6. Hey T!

    I know I owe you an email and I can’t find the link to your blog!

  7. Pamela,

    The link is on her name.

  8. LOL Pamela, a lot going on. BTW, what is up with that add jumping all over and following you down?

  9. Donnie

    Which add? The one for the Blogroll thingy on the right lower column?

  10. No on the left side, it flickers and follows the page down. Slows the page down. Don’t know if it just one add or something else. But on dial up, it shows up real bad. Can’t wait to be back on cable in the near future. While typing, there is a delay as you type. But the right side is still sitting low and not at the top like it used to be.

  11. Nick says:


    Excellent points! (especially about cue cards, LOL!). I can understand why the Reagan reference would scare you. If I had to live through 16 years (as opposed to just 8) of Reagan in an executive position I’d probably be scarred for life.

    My dillema when writing this post was to think of someone who did an effective job of “mainstreaming” their way of thinking-even though they often encountered setbacks-much like Kerry has done and is doing. I wanted it to be someone in my lifetime (I was born in the 70s). Unfortunately, the most valid comparison person was someone who was (in most cases) JK’s ideological opposite.