Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Carter's Speech

I've never thought of Jimmy Carter as a particularly dynamic public speaker. But he delivered one terrific, terrific speech. He really smacked Bush around. But the fact that he didn't even mention Bush's name, and the fact that it was coming from such a genteel old Southerner made it seem less harsh than it was. But this speech contains MANY oblique little jabs at the Shrub. He was pointed, blunt, uncompromising, and absolutely correct. I think I'll place some of the swipes in boldface.

"Thank you very much. My name is Jimmy Carter, and I am not running for president. (Cheers, applause.) But here's what I will be doing -- everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.

Unlike Al Gore, President Carter puts John Kerry front and center. Good.

"As many of you may know, my first chosen career was the United States Navy where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace. I served under two presidents -- Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower -- men who represented different political parties; both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment. And they had a clear sense of mission. (Applause.) We have a confidence -- we had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger. We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved national security.

Today our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty and he served with honor and distinction. He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership. And I am confident that next January he would restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking. I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I'm ready to follow him to victory in November.

And unlike Gore, Carter gives distinct second place to economic issues and focuses on national security as of prime importance. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, foreign policy is NOT one of Bush's strong point, and it seems that Carter thinks so, too.

"But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation. (Applause.) Today our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.

Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered, and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people. When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken."

Remember when Bush was regarded by the bootlicking press as "forthright" and "honest." How much has changed. Talk about lies, and the lack of honesty, and the violation of trust, and you don't even have to mention his name. Everyone KNOWS who you are talking about.

"After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world.

But in just 34 months we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. "

"What a difference these few months of extremism have made."

He used the "E" word!

"The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism."

These are some of the prices our government has paid with this radical departure from basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry. In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.

First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us; namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.

Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.

Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.

Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.

And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next depending on the latest political polls.

The Democrats should take this and use it verbatim for a campaign commercial.

"But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.

And so I say to you -- and so I say to you and to others around the world, whether you wish us well or ill, do not underestimate us Americans.

We lack neither strength nor wisdom.

There's a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards.

Thank you, and God bless America."

And thank YOU, Mr. President.

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