John Kerry On Fire Delivering ‘Real Security For America’ Speech

By now, Sen. Kerry’s magnificent speech on national security is up on the web, along with a number of color photos of the event and in the news (here and here). No need, then, for me to post that speech again—only to urge people to read that speech carefully, and to look for the video on CSPAN. But I thought that it might be useful to add an account of the atmosphere in the hall, along with a brief description of the other speakers that preceded him. Judging from other CSPAN broadcasts, those other speakers are unlikely to be included in video archives of the events.

For third time in 4 months, I took the T to Faneuil Hall to hear Senator Kerry talk some sense on what is wrong in our country, and what needs to be done to fix it, at least (the last two speeches) with regards to energy and health care. Now an experienced hand at these speeches, I knew the routine well: get there well before the suggested arrival time to secure a good place in line, bring something to read, and (it’s summertime) a tube of sunblock.

Judging from the anticipatory buzz in the blogosphere (not to mention the exceptionally apt close-to-Sept.-11-timing for a speech on security), I sensed that there could be more people than usual, so I tried extra hard to get my family there early. Though we didn’t quite manage to get there as early as I’d liked, we still arrived 35 minutes before the suggested arrival time of 10:30, more than an hour before the talk began at 11 am. But so many people were there already, we were in a whisker of not making it onto the main floor of the hall.

By a miracle (and the fact that the staff gets more professional each time in getting people to their seats), we actually got good seats on the aisle. So, needless worry about whether we’d be able to see anything.

But I was right about the buzz. The hall was packed. A bank of about 10 TV cameras was behind us, with 1 or 2 additional mobile videocams, and 5 or 6 still photographers, near the front.

Some of the faces were (by now) familiar—fellow veteran volunteers from the 2004 campaign, staff people, Diana and Cameron Kerry. Among the newer faces (to me) were my immediate seat-neighbors: two Vietnam veterans, one to my left, one in front of me, one of whom (judging by markings on his hat and jacket, and his generous use of “oora” and a raised fist) was almost surely an ex-Marine. Well, it’s obvious why they were there. Having attended a Veterans for Kerry rally at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, I’d seen it before. As veterans of Vietnam, they know what Bush/Rummy/Cheney, Inc. are up to, they’ve seen the lies and the needless deaths before, and they take it personally. Both in that 2004 rally, and in my seat-neighbors today, I could feel the emotion simply erupting from their bodies.

… From Senator Kerry’s, too. Like his fellow Vietnam veterans, he takes the Iraq debacle personally. This man is on fire.

Delivering the nondenominational invocation was the Reverend Stephanie Spellers, a priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Boston, focusing on diversity in her ministry, and outreach to young adults. Clearly a person of ability and compassion, she came to the priesthood after an early career in religious journalism in Knoxville, Tennessee. She offered a beautiful prayer, whose general theme was asking for guidance in moving beyond the darkness of fear into hope. Her words are well worth a careful read, and worth further reflection. If I can get a copy of her prayer, I will pass it on.

The second speaker was Michael Casey, now a freelance photographer, who lost his wife on the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 11. His family story was covered in last week’s Boston Globe magazine.

Among other things, Casey mentioned that, five years ago, Sen. Kerry had attended the funeral for Casey’s wife, standing right behind him; and that he stayed for the entire two-hour Mass; and, further, that Sen. Kerry had kept a watchful eye on Casey and his infant daughter as he gradually rebuilt his life. I’ve heard so many stories by now about Kerry that are so much like this; but one almost never reads about them in the press. OK, I’ll avoid my rant about the MSM, but I can’t resist this comment: can you imagine W. doing ever doing the same?

The third speaker—to my astonishment and pleasure—was GARY HART, who introduced Kerry, his former senatorial colleague. As he wasn’t even listed on the printed program, I wondered whether his presence was a last-minute addition. If so, it was a great decision to include him. Hart gave brief but thoughtful, substantive comments. Like Spellers’ invocation, Sen. Hart’s comments are definitely worth a second reading, or hearing. If I can somehow find a transcript or video of Sen. Hart’s remarks, I will pass them on. In the meantime, I can offer these brief snatches:

Hart opened with a wonderful quote from Louis Brandeis, on liberty , to the effect that the founding fathers valued liberty both as means and as an end. He then moved into a synopsis of the last grim 5 years, concluding that we need leaders who do not substitute delusion for courage. He also recounted what many of us already noticed: the decline of leadership in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, since Hart served in the 70’s. Where are, he asked , the Mansfields? The Symingtons? The Rubicoffs? The Javits’? Of that original group, only Ted Kennedy, he said, remains as a senator of caliber. (Big applause at that point). He then introduced Kerry as one of the few current politicians who deserve to be included in that pantheon. He described Kerry as a figure of gravity, scope, and conscience… as one of the few current politicians to put the national interest ahead of his own. And one of the few, he said, to grow larger with length of service. Amen to that.

As for Kerry’s speech (do be sure to take the time to read the transcript, or watch the video when it’s available), it was magnificent s, delivered with clarity and passion. The audience interrupted many many times with applause and with multiple standing ovations. My Vietnam Vet neighbors stood up more times than anyone… like I said, it’s personal for them.

In conclusion, I offer here my three personal favorite moments in Kerry’s speech. But here are my personal top three (emphasis mine). First: “they [the administration] trot out the fear card, instead of reinforcing in Americans ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’, they have nothing to offer but fear itself.” Second: “Let me say it plainly: No American president should be for torture before he’s against it.” (Rousing, standing ovation, and laughter!) Third: “We need to make America be America again.” Oh, yes.Yes. Yes.

You may well have different favorite bits, as it was a speech filled with memorable, thoughtful statements. So tell us: what are yours?

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23 Responses to John Kerry On Fire Delivering ‘Real Security For America’ Speech

  1. MBK

    Thanks so much for the personal report from the speech. It’s great to have feed back from someone who was there. I hope our own Marine here, reads about his brothers there at the speech! 😉

    “Oora” is right!

    It was a wicked speech, wasn’t it!

  2. Thanks MBK! Semper Fi Brothers! I love it, Brother Marines backing up our favorite Squid. 😉 I fully expect JK to give me a poke back in the ribs for that one. 😆

  3. Donnie

    I’d like to be around to see JK poke you in the ribs! 😉

  4. Pamela, I’m sure he has more than a few Jarhead jokes to throw back. 😉

  5. DAS San Diego says:

    Thanks to mbk, Pamela, & other Dem Daily writers for such great info. I’m trying hard to keep the faith during these times. Unfortunately I have been reading & listening to too much about this crazy Disney/ABC/9-11 junk that I feel like an American citizen with my hands, feet, mouth & eyes bound & covered. Forced to be surrounded by continuous lies without the ability to hear equivalent counterattacks. I don’t want to turn this off topic so I will relate it to this post by saying…I sure wish we could hear loudly & clearly Plans such as Kerry’s as we learn & live through this post 9/11 era…INSTEAD, OVER THE NEXT TWO DAYS, KERRY’S MESSAGE WILL BE TUCKED AWAY ON THE NET & CSPAN (where the average Joe audience will not likely look) AND UNFORTUNATELY this “Crock-u-Drama” with its interruption for a speech by the so-called leader WILL BE ALL OVER EVERYDAY, REGULAR, OLE’ TV….THIS HAS GOT TO CHANGE!

    SOMEONE HAS TO COUNTER THIS DECEPTION IN A WAY THAT WILL TOUCH THE MASSES – IN AN IMMEDIATE WAY! LORD HELP US!

  6. Teresa says:

    The wonderful thing about this crock-u-drama is that it will be over with and forgotten way before the election. The public doesn’t have a long memory. His speeches are so trite they don’t penetrate. Nothing to be afraid of here.

    The great thing about kerry is how he’s staying put like a beacon and speaking in the same place each time rather than running around hysterically like the others. He stands out just in the way he is. And his calm has always been the mark of his true leadership skills.

  7. DAS

    I think there is some weird irony that here we have another big Kerry speech and here we have another big distraction in the news. Granted the “Crock-u-Drama” is a crock o crap and it shouldn’tbe aired but ARGH!!!! I hear you!!!

  8. Teresa

    The voice of reason while the rest of us are frustrated as hell! LOL! What woulld we do with out you?

  9. DAS San Diego says:

    As you all know and I know…Kerry is the Real Deal! Even with some of the lows…thank goodness for the highs that Kerry brings. Thanks for the reminder Teresa. Pamela, I guess Kerry’s job has been to clean up the “crock” left behind. He will get his day…maybe not as soon as I and others would like…but it will come. Nice to vent among friends.

  10. DAS

    It’s been a good week to vent, holler and just be mad the fools in charge and the MSM whores.

    Donnie just gave us something to laugh about though 😆 –
    http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=4140

  11. Teresa says:

    He’s doing what he always knew best. Just stand tall, stay cool, and let the arrows bounce off. This time around it will be right and he can do what he always tries to do. Not respond to their infantile attempts. He’s great at letting shit slide and focusing on the important things.

    He’s like an adult in day care and when it finally comes down to the line, I sense that people will want maturity next time around.

  12. mbk says:

    in the likely case that Gary Hart’s remarks got lost in my sea of words, I wanted to highlight them again here:
    “[Hart} described Kerry as a figure of gravity, scope, and conscience… as one of the few current politicians to put the national interest ahead of his own. And one of the few, he said, to grow larger with length of service.” I think his assessment is dead-on right.

    As Teresa’s description brought out so wonderfully, Kerry has a rare maturity about him.And it’s a quality that we despereately need in government. But what seems to be even more rare–perhaps unique– is that he somehow combines that maturity with a capacity for growth. He just keeps growing, he just keeps getting better. It’s just thrilling for me to watch.

  13. Teresa says:

    he somehow combines that maturity with a capacity for growth. He just keeps growing, he just keeps getting better. It’s just thrilling for me to watch.

    Me too, mbk. Thank you so much for this close experience with JK and the crowd.

    The Kennedy people and the Bush people go a long way back. Gary Hart’s appearance is noteworthy. It appears that the powers are grooming the Kennedy faction to take over. Kerry has been destined for a big place in this country’s history. It couldn’t have come sooner. Now is the exact time. The problems he will be taking on are just what he needs for the challenge he always wanted and the chance to do something major for the country. I am on pins and needles waiting to see who his running mate is and who will be in his cabinet.

  14. Ginny in CO says:

    I’m waiting to see how he pulls it all off. The strength and growth are part of it – because it’s what Kerry does. Gains strength by growing. Then it will be way cool to find out the appointments. Doncha just have the expectation that they will make perfect sense? Some really competent, knowledgeable, visionary DOERS.

    The increasing media attention is a good sign. After November, it will be interesting to see who emerges as party leadership. Which is not necessarily who the Congressional leaders are. The chamber leaders have to work a lot with the other side and especially at this point, that can mess up your record.

    Besides, I’d rather Kerry be somewhat outside the Hill leadership. It lessens the charge that he’s part of the internal problems – that someone like Mark Warner would clean up because he’s an outsider. That was what Carter and Clinton tried. Doesn’t work. Even if you are as smart as Bill – which Warner is far from.

  15. Indie Liberal says:

    Thanks for the report mbk. I agree with you all about the leadership thing.

    Speaking of the outsider thing, I like Gore, but I heard from Wolf’s Late Edition show that he hasn’t ruled out 08. He must be waiting on a Draft Gore movement.

  16. Teresa says:

    Good point Ginny. I hadn’t thought of this. He is a stellar strategist so he probably has it all mapped out.

    I think you could be right about separating himself. I think it would actually serve him well to appear above it all. Well, actually, he is.
    It would be amazing if he could project an image outside of the Washington clique and win with that. The people are ready with the new distrust of government.

  17. Ginny, Teresa

    He’s always been outside of the clique in many ways, though the Rovians tried to show otherwise. JK is his own man, stands alone out side of the crowd. That’s part of what makes him special. Gary Hart is like that too. I met hart in NH, very nice. Enjoyed talking with him breifly.

  18. Teresa says:

    I’ll tell you a Gary Hart story. Absolutely true.
    He was talking about his book at the famous Denver bookstore the Tattered Cover a couple of years ago. It was about the abuse of power and just as he said the word “power” a huge thunderclap shook the room. He didn’t miss a beat but everyone in the room was a lttle shocked. Talk about making a point!

  19. pen says:

    Actually folks Levin, Harry Reid, Hill, Obama, Biden and Dodd and their ilk have already given JK the opportunity to be the outsider.
    The day the DC dems stabbed him in the back with the Iraq withdrawl resolution Kerry and Feingold led effectively showed that JK isn’t an Dem inside the beltway anymore. (yeah, I’ll hold it against them forever. I can’t help it.)

    They betrayed him, showed utter contempt for him as a dem leader and as far as I’m concerend betrayed us Kerry supporters.

    Kerry can now point to that fact that he isn’t given any favors from the DNC or DC dems unlike Obama, Hillary, and others.

    The MSM don’t write glowing reports of him like they do with Obama, Mark Warner, Edwards, Hillary and yet Kerry still keeps on moving never giving up and rather you like him or not you have to give him credit for getting back up, taking the hits and never giving up.

    I see Yahoo had taken Kerry down from their political slide show section and I think they need a reminder that Kerry is a hell of alot more interesting than Lieberman, abramoff. If they keep Gore on the slideshow then Kerry needs to be there to.

    Hey when is Alex’s movie coming out? I thought I’d heard October but I haven’t seen anything else about it.

    About time we see more of momma T.

  20. Indie Liberal says:

    “About time we see more of momma T.”

    I agree pen, she looks really nice. 🙂

  21. Indie Liberal says:

    …And as always Kerry looked presidential too. 🙂

  22. Ginny in CO says:

    I think Kerry has always been an outsider – and shunned the media quite a bit. BCCI was definitely an outsider role. He probably still has some enemies for that. A lot of people don’t see some of these differentiations in politicians. They automatically judge that anyone who has been on the hill that long is corrupt.

  23. Teresa says:

    That’s his ace. No matter what they say, no one can accuse Kerry of being corrupt. After this binge he will stand out on this fact alone.

    In the end the party will do what needs to be done to win. This next Presidential election is important and the path will start to be clear soon. There will probably be even more scandals and by the time ’08 comes, squeaky clean will be the winner.