DNC Opening Night Hits Homerun

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It was an exuberant night of brilliantly crafted speeches at the Democratic Convention capped by one of the most dynamic speeches ever delivered by former Pres. Bill Clinton. Following are excerpted paragraphs (with links to the full text) from key speeches which drove the Democratic message home.

Text of Gore's Speech.

And of course, no challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq. Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn’t it now obvious that the way the war has been managed by the Administration has gotten us into very serious trouble?

Wouldn’t we be better off with a new president who hasn’t burned his bridges to our allies, and who could rebuild respect for America in the world? Isn’t cooperation with other nations crucial to solving our dilemma in Iraq? Isn’t it also critical to defeating the terrorists? We have to be crystal clear about the threat we face from terrorism. It is deadly. It is real. It is imminent. But in order to protect our people, shouldn’t we focus on the real source of this threat: The group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again - Al Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin Laden?

Wouldn’t we be safer with a president who didn’t insist on confusing Al Qaeda with Iraq? Doesn’t that divert too much of our attention away from the principal danger? I want to say to all Americans this evening that whether it is the threat to the global environment or the erosion of America’s leadership in the world, whether it is the challenge to our economy from new competitors or the challenge to our security from new enemies, I believe that we need new leadership that is both strong and wise.

And we can have new leadership, because one of our greatest strengths as a democracy is that when we are headed in the wrong direction, we can correct our course. When policies are clearly not working, we can change them. If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable even if they never admit their mistakes. I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world. We are here this week to present to the nation the man who should be our new president: John Kerry.

Carter at the Convention

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 the president and the people.

When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. 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 goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.

...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. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

Text Of Hillary Clinton's Speech

We’ve been through our share of challenges as Americans, from a Civil War to a Great Depression to world wars and more. Today we face a new threat. Being a senator from New York, I saw firsthand the devastation of 9-11. I visited Ground Zero right after we were attacked. I felt like I was standing at the gates of hell. I hope no American ever has to witness a sight like that again. That tragedy changed all of us. I know it changed me. And every day now, as a mother, as a senator, and as an American, I worry about whether we are acting as wisely as we can to protect our country and our people.

Last week, the bipartisan 9-11 commission issued its report. It was a sober call to action that we ignore at our peril. John Kerry understands what’s at stake. We need to fully equip and train our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians - our first responders in the event of a terrorist attack.

We need to secure our borders and our ports, as well as our chemical and nuclear plants. We need to reorganize our federal government to meet the new threats of these times. We need to make sure that homeland security is properly funded and that resources go to areas at greatest risk. We need to take care of our men and women in uniform who risked their lives for our country. These brave Americans deserve better. We need to increase our troop strength, raise their pay, and provide veterans, the National Guard, and Reserve with the benefits they’re entitled to.

Do you know what we need to meet those challenges? We need John Kerry. John Kerry is a serious man for a serious job.

Pres. Bill Clinton

Democrats and Republicans have very different and honestly held ideas on that choices we should make, rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home and how we should play our role in the world. Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities and more global cooperation, acting alone only when we must.

We think the role of government is to give people the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people, their people, in a world in which we act unilaterally when we can, and cooperate when we have to.

They think the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like health care and retirement security. Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray us Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all wanted to be one nation, strong in the fight against terror. The president had a great opportunity to bring us together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in common cause against terror.

Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice: to use the moment of unity to push America too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors finished their jobs, but in withdrawing American support for the Climate Change Treaty, the International Court for war criminals, the ABM treaty, and even the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Now they are working to develop two new nuclear weapons which they say we might use first. At home, the President and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices indeed. For the first time ever when America was on a war footing, there were two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top one percent. I’m in that group now for the first time in my life.

When I was in office, the Republicans were pretty mean to me. When I left and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. At first I thought I should send them a thank you note-until I realized they were sending you the bill.

They protected my tax cuts while:

· Withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving over 2 million children behind

· Cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of job training

· 100,000 working families out of child care assistance

· 300,000 poor children out of after school programs

· Raising out of pocket healthcare costs to veterans

· Weakening or reversing important environmental advances for clean air and the preservation of our forests.

Everyone had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans, who wanted to do their part but were asked only to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts. If you agree with these choices, you should vote to return them to the White House and Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats.

In this year’s budget, the White House wants to cut off federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police, including more than 700 on the New York City police force who put their lives on the line on 9/11. As gang violence is rising and we look for terrorists in our midst, Congress and the President are also about to allow the ten-year-old ban on assault weapons to expire. Our crime policy was to put more police on the streets and take assault weapons off the streets. It brought eight years of declining crime and violence. Their policy is the reverse, they’re taking police off the streets and putting assault weapons back on the streets. If you agree with their choices, vote to continue them. If not, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter, and stronger.

On Homeland Security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The one billion dollar cost would have been paid for by reducing the tax cut of 200,000 millionaires by five thousand dollars each. Almost all 200,000 of us would have been glad to pay 5,000 dollars to make the nearly 300 million Americans safer-but the measure failed because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House decided my tax cut was more important- If you agree with that choice, re-elect them. If not, give John Kerry and John Edwards a chance.

These policies have turned the projected 5.8 trillion dollar surplus we left-enough to pay for the baby boomers retirement-into a projected debt of nearly 5 trillion dollars, with a 400 plus billion dollar deficit this year and for years to come. How do they pay for it? First by taking the monthly surplus in Social Security payments and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to cover my tax cut. But it’s not enough. They are borrowing the rest from foreign governments, mostly Japan and China. Sure, they’re competing with us for good jobs but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? If you think it’s good policy to pay for my tax cut with the Social Security checks of working men and women, and borrowed money from China, vote for them. If not, John Kerry’s your man.

We Americans must choose for President one of two strong men who both love our country, but who have very different worldviews: Democrats favor shared responsibility, shared opportunity, and more global cooperation. Republicans favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action. I think we’re right for two reasons: First, America works better when all people have a chance to live their dreams. Second, we live in an interdependent world in which we can’t kill, jail, or occupy all our potential adversaries, so we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists. We tried it their way for twelve years, our way for eight, and then their way for four more.

By the only test that matters, whether people were better off when we finished than when we started, our way works better-it produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes, and 100 times as many people moving out of poverty into the middle class. It produced more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror, and an America respected as a world leader for peace, security and prosperity.

Here is what I know about John Kerry. During the Vietnam War, many young men-including the current president, the vice president and me-could have gone to Vietnam but didn’t. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it too. Instead he said, send me.

When they sent those swift-boats up the river in Vietnam, and told them their job was to draw hostile fire-to show the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight-John Kerry said, send me. When it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam-and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there-John Kerry said, send me.

When we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city kids struggling to avoid a life of crime, or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans, or to clean the environment in a way that creates jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said send me.

Tonight my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry’s story and promoting his plans. Let every person in this hall and all across America say to him what he has always said to America: Send Me. The bravery that the men who fought by his side saw in battle I’ve seen in the political arena. When I was President, John Kerry showed courage and conviction on crime, on welfare reform, on balancing the budget at a time when those priorities were not exactly a way to win a popularity contest in our party.

He took tough positions on tough problems. John Kerry knows who he is and where he’s going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas and the values to be a great President. In a time of change he has two other important qualities: his insatiable curiosity to understand the forces shaping our lives, and a willingness to hear the views even of those who disagree with him. Therefore his choices will be full of both conviction and common sense.

I would be remiss not to mention one of the most moving tributes to the fallen of 9/11 presented by a survivor and a violinist's rendition of Amazing Grace. It brought tears to my eyes.

2 Comments

David,
First of all, thank you for blogrolling my personal weblog. (spelling correction: Colored) I will respectful return the honor. (Pretty full plate you have there!)

I also wrote an enthused and lengthy review of DNC-Day 1, that may be of some interest!

ThatColoredFellasweblog/190

Bert, thank you for the correction. I just made rectified the spelling. Also, thanks for the reciprocal link. Much appreciated. Your writing is often inspiring and certainly serves as a watchdog on our government. Great Blog you have there too! I can see why it is so popular.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on July 27, 2004 12:31 AM.

9/11 Report: Bi-Partisanship at its Worst? was the previous entry in this blog.

Will Osama bin Laden's Dream Come True? is the next entry in this blog.

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