Joho the Blog » President Kerry

President Kerry

The problem with visionary speeches in politics is the same as with sales speeches that talk about benefits: If the vision is big enough, it’s always the same speech. In marketing, you end up saying “SAves time, drives down costs, boosts profits,” which works out to the single, unified benefit: “Make more money.” In American politics the speech becomes about family, flag and freedom. If the vision is sufficiently grand, the same speech can be given by George Bush, John Kerry, Ralph Nader and your crazy Uncle Bob.

I liked Kerry’s speech because it wasn’t visionary.

By giving us enough details about what he will do, he gave us a real sense of our country’s path and his reason for running. Did you come out of the speech thinking that he’s a flip-floppy guy driven only by ambition? There goes $80M of Republican advertising, down the ol’ drain.

One of the stupid TV commentators – I swear that in the first three minutes after the speech one of them was commenting on Kerry’s rate of sweat – said that he failed to explain his Iraq policy. Bull! He said exactly what he would do, although he steered clear of the important details of how exactly he will implement his plan. But we have 100 days and three debates for that. I thought Kerry – and his Media Engineers (credit where credit due) – hit exactly the right spot in the Empty Vision vs. Policy Wonk spectrum.

I now believe Kerry will win the debates in the way that matters: Convincing the undecided that he deserves their trust and their vote. The debates are beginning to smell pretty darn delicious at this point. Mmmmm. I mean, is there anything that Democrats look forward to more than seeing W wiped in his own flop sweat?


By the way, there was a delightfully active – and delightful – conversation in the comments during my disjointed realtime blogging of the speech.

7 Responses to “President Kerry”

  1. Hmm, I don’t think I agree about Iraq. His only plan seems to be to get help from other countries.

    a. I think that bridge is already burned. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a significant number of non-US troops to arrive.

    b. Regardless of who the troops are, what will he do differently *with* them?

    He’s kinda stuck here, as I’m not sure there *is* a good answer (e.g. one that decreases the odds of massive failure).

    But still…

  2. I took exception to the Iraq bit of his speech – it’s not alliance building to publicly disrespect the Britons, Australians, Poles and many other countries who fought and died alongside the Americans in Iraq. The ‘going it alone’ trope is sloppy sloganising.

  3. Events are unfolding in Iraq on an hourly basis. An intelligent first step would be to restore our relationships (rebuild those bridges) with all of our powerful former allies. From that point we would regain the information and perhaps manpower to gain a more accurate perception of an acceptable solution.

    I believe Kerry had great strength and passion last night as the leader of a “team”. He seems more effective now that he is leading team America to take back the country we love.

  4. Sorry — have to disagree with you here, Mr. W.

    “Visionary” doesn’t degrade into a ‘most general’ benefit statement. If well done and truly visionary, ‘what’ ascends to heaven and is pulled to earth by ‘how’. It’s possible to be concretely visionary.

    But how would I know? I’m just a peripheral visionary.

    r

  5. Iraq has become such a mess, why should we expect anyone to have a magical plan that would shore up the provisional government (I’m being generous here), return the troops, and create general stability in the region?

    The swaggering, pig-headed Bush has proven that his administration is incapable of forming a meaningful coalition because no one trusts him, and no one outside of America likes him. He is singular as an American president in dismissing the importance and subtleties of foreign policy, and has demonstrated on numerous occasions his utter contempt for other countries. Though it will probably be difficult for Kerry to do what Bush has been trying to do rather belatedly, at least he has a shot. It should be clear by now how ruinous Bush’s foreign policy has been. With Bush in power, we will continue to be alone in Iraq (ok, with the Brits too). With the neocons in control, Iraq is simply too much of a political liability in places in the world where Democracy actually matters.

    So why should it be any differnt for Kerry? Basically because he represents an ideological shift. Europeans tend to be better informed than their American counterparts about important events that shape the world (what with a greater diversity of news media and all) and might breathe a bit easier knowing that a go-it-alone, Geneva Conventin Armageddonite is not in the oval office. Don’t you just know that the rest of the world just snickers at us and gloats over our folly in Iraq? When is it not enjoyable to watch the bully on the block stumble and bleed from his nose?

    So to those who say that Kerry wasn’t specific enough about his plans for Iraq, it should be clear that the most important thing that we can do right now that might actually help the situation is to change our leadership. It isn’t any more complicated than that.

  6. You said “I liked Kerry’s speech because it wasn’t visionary.” I agree…but I still got tingly when he gave forth some memorable, visionary-esque comments – what I like to call the “Ahnold-I’ll-be-back” isms.

    What came over me? Patriotism? Passion of one kind or another? Michael Moore? The result of my emotions after watching the Democratic National Convention turned into an all night Saturday – until 5 a.m. – 3-min. music video I made about the convention. I clipped several of those shivery sound bytes, too – including his “reporting for duty” salute. (Sorry, David)

    “The Goal Is Elevation”; Music by U2

    Watch Kerry-Edwards Democratic National Convention music video (3:37)
    Streaming video; must have Windows Media player

    Hi (1128k, T1/Cable)
    Med (212k, Cable/DSL)
    Low (100k, Dial-up)
    Big Download (1128k, 28.5 MB download, so be patient) Right-click and “save target as” to your hard drive.

  7. It’s a little late, but I am still angry with John Kerry’s rantings. It just sounded like, in the debates and on the campaign trail, that John Kerry was creating mythical realities about what Bush and other Republicans stand for, just to win an election. He didn’t come across as forthright.

    Mark C

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