Sunday, January 09, 2005

I Am Shameless

But I'm OK with that.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Reflecting on Giving and Disaster and Writing and Writing on Giving and Writing on Disaster; Also, Actually Writing

Should I have said more earlier on about the tsunami? I don't think so. Little could I have added to this discourse that the brutal sadness of pictures and stories and first-hand accounts did not provide. Perhaps I could have criticized our President for his weak initial response to this horrific tragedy. Again, my perspective would not have added much to the discussion. So I listened, instead.

Personally, I cannot comprehend the pain, so even in listening I did not understand. I do not think I can understand. So, instead of trying to understand experience that I have not had (very fortunately), I will say something that I do not particularly need to say:

Give. I don't simply mean now or in the next few weeks or while the cable news outlets keep pumping you full of images of suffering. I mean keep giving. We tend to have short attention spans; within a few weeks, most of us will hardly remember what has so oppressed our minds the past several days. Even before the rubble is cleared and the people are bandaged, or buried as it were, we will have moved on. But the clearing and bandaging and burying do not begin to describe the deep ramifications of this event.

It will require generations to recover. In coming months, those humbled by this force will be reabsorbed into the clamorous poverty already present in all the affected countries. There, in that sesspool of desperation, the subtle shadows of this Christmas surprise will run deep, through families, villages, societies.

They need our help and we need to continue to give it. Children without parents, parents without children, villages without people, people without villages, loss does not disappear. Grief does not disappear. It may fade, subsiding slowly and incompletely temporarily, but it is always there. Will we be there?

Are we there now? Yes, yes, $350,000,000 is a lot of money. But symbolically, America has lost something (maybe for the better?). We are no longer the unquestioned benefactor of this good earth. We are not the deus ex machina we used to be, there to scoop up the remains of natural or manmade disaster, rebuilding the thatched huts of society from Asia to Africa. The Japanese (or creditors) and the Australians have blazed past us in charity, even after our government was shamed into giving more. Of course, that private citizens and corporations could compete with the aid package of the world's last remaining superpower is only heartening to the neoconservative ideology that has permeated the very seat of Western democracy.

The charity of our people is sheer beauty. But our government has lost that shimmer. There was a time when leadership meant vision, a vision of progress and glory for all the world's citizens. There was a time when strength was measured not just in territories conquered and warcries howled from the summit of some great sand dune in the midst of inflicted nothingness, but also in the size of our olive tree, with branches enough for all human beings of this earth. The greatest commander of war is the arbiter of peace, and from that arbiter's first step may the rest of us take our own steps, small but firm, and together march humanity forward with hearts instead of clubs.

Then again, if our less than spectacular showing would suggest that we have humbled ourselves, admitted our place as just one more in the parade of nations, then this might mean we would choose to check our domineering tendencies. I doubt this--The great might of this country, once the firmament and symbol of righteous (though not self-righteous) grandeur, is now poured into the despair of spent shells and armorless Humvees. Worse, it is also the blind jingoism that sends those Humvees to battle and that aims those shells at the hapless masses that run together in shades of brown. No, none of the bad of our stature will go, but the good that came of America's unparalleled strength--This seems to have begun its flight into the abyss.

I am done.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Just Keep Going!

Every time I question the utility of Christianity entirely, or at least of the Protestant Reformation, someone gives me pause.Now, I'll never agree that the government should dole out money to religious groups. I'll never agree that politicians should stamp their feet and thump their Bibles to grab a few more votes. I'll never agree that the Establishment Clause is not precisely what it is: A protection of all beliefs against the tyrrany of one constructed by the spiritual, but avowedly non-dogmatic, framers.

However, my belief in the good works that Christianity can effect in this nation is renewed. Indeed, I can even imagine the proper place for religion within the political arena. No, we should not be using religion to legislate. We should not quote Psalms as evidence of right and wrong.

Religion, though, does offer a motivation and an explanation of deep, universal moral principles. We did not need Christ to learn we should love our neighbors, but he was a charismatic and effective advocate of the principle. That is, Christianity can frame secular ethics in a manner that can be appreciated by the religious masses.

Advocacy, then, that relies on religion to explain and demand the maintenance of certain basic, uncontestable values of humanity can be effective and healthy for the American political arena.

What has renewed my confidence in the religious? What has given me pause? A couple of weeks ago I saw John Hill, Program Director for Economic and Environmental Justice for the United Methodist Church, on television. He was discussing the Church's latest campaign against the Bush tax cuts as immoral in their bias against the poor.

I was confused.

Could it be that a religious organization was not obsessed with shoving beliefs down people's throats? Could it be that these people genuinely wanted to help the less fortunate, and not at the end of a Bible at that?

I was shocked.

But as I read more about the United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society, I realized that yes, a religious organization finally sat down and THOUGHT! The purpose of religion should not be to propagate itself as a social institution, but to do good and offer guidance to those who want and need it. Here is an organization that pursues environmental regulations, socioeconomic justice, equality for all--including the LGBT community, and the sort of liberalism that seeks no less than a more humane world and a more humane humanity. I don't agree with the Church's statements that religion should permeate every aspect of life, but I see that their political campaigns do not reek of the same sort of ideological chauvinism that the evangelicals I mentioned in the preceding post employ.

The UMC's driving force might be religious, but it is using that energy to promote beliefs and goals of tolerance and acceptance and the enhancement of life--Things that all of us, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Tao, Shinto, atheist, agnostic, etc., etc., etc., can agree upon. They do not find the fodder for their political existence in the tiny details of the Bible or the exclusivities of Christianity, but in that which binds us all and, by extension, is most important of all.

This marriage of religion and politics, but not religion and state, is exciting to me, and relatively new. This is the way it should be done. This is what religion and piety and a faith in a higher, benevolent Power should be about.

Why is it not clear to everyone?

Just Stop!

Please. I am not Christian, but for years, I used to think nothing of receiving the greeting "Merry Christmas" or even of giving it. Christmas, to me was once a holiday about family, charity, community, Saint Nick, and some nifty presents. "Happy Holidays" was a fine alternative, but "Merry Christmas" served me all right.

Now, though, the evangelists have sent out their militia of vicious, angry, malicious marauders to crucify every business, every school, every person who chooses not to say "Merry Christmas." The heathenous masses of the United States have conspired to kill Christmas. Sensitivity for other religions and other beliefs is not only unnecessary, but it is sinful. Secularism is the calling of the damned; tolerance is the whisper of Satan himself. Thus, "Merry Christmas" is no longer a cheery greeting, it is the rallying cry of a bitter minority not of the oppressed, but of the empowered. The evangelists--I utter the phrase and spit to remove the taste from my mouth--the evangelists have claimed their recent advances not as ephemeral shifts of wind, but as mighty gales to propel their ship of unfaltering, unforgiving conviction to Providence.

Yet, it is not just this. They are clearly uneasy with their newfound power. They proclaim a victory, but cannot help but expressing their continued persecution. What we have here, folks, is a group so inundated with delusions of victimization that it cannot come to grips with the oppression that it continues to propagate. Decade after decade, oblivion has justified the injustices of the evangelicals. This "Merry Christmas" business is small potato.

But it's soured me. Every time someone on television or in a store or on the street says "Merry Christmas," I feel disgusted. I associate the phrase and everyone who utters it with the sort of divisive, self-righteous, self-pitying individuals who have made this holiday so ugly. And I don't like that. I don't like treating this simple salutation with such disdain, but it's been transmogrified into something more than just a salutation. It is a religious and political statement from a band with the strength of immense influence and the motivation of immense fear.

So I can't even say Merry Christmas. Not only that, we've all latched on this mighty issue of the day and age and have forgotten the real battles that might have been fought. Churches spent money picketing Federated Department Stores--We must live in a world without hunger, pain, poverty, and suffering. Surely, religious organizations might toss their coins at better causes than disgruntled mania. Oh, but I forgot--The inferiority complex of the evangelicals leaves them feeling more sorry for themselves than for the destitute. Their political capital, on the other hand, affords them both the confidence and agency to strike down those from whom they feel the threat.

Because I really am less powerful than them, I am left no other option but to beseech them: Please, next Christmas, can we love each other first?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Short Stop On a Long Ride

I have been remiss in writing. From China to Pakistan to Capitol Hill, a variety of matters of profound political and social interest have marched onto the global (or, at least, national) stage in the last few weeks. I, however, have said nothing about them.

I do apologize.

Nevertheless, I will continue not to comment on them for at least another two weeks. You see, I am entering a period of sadness and strife known as final exams--This mental persecution leaves little space for basic bodily functions, let alone the production of semi-coherent musings comprising "a motley assemblage of politics, philosophy, and sheer confusion." Well, I suppose I could probably provide the confusion...I'm pretty confused right now, that's for sure.

Anyway, once I return, I will try to catch up where I left off. That is, I'd like to fill the backlog of commentary, even things that might have been somewhat time-dependent. Perhaps a few weeks will allow a useful perspective on some of the more rapidly developing stories (Asif Zardari in Pakistan, for one, and the variety of Congressional moves, for another) and allow a better synthesis of related events than less procrastination would have allowed.

Now that I have both announced and justified my delays, I shall continue to live them. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, November 22, 2004

American vs. Canadian Homicide Rates

I don't quite know what to make of this: A Statistical Comparison of Homicide Rates in the Prairie Provinces and Four American Border States, 1978-1992.

It is a very interesting study comparing homicide rates in the Canadian prairie provinces and the four American states that border Canada. It seems to undercut gun control advocates' argument that stricter gun laws in Canada make the country safer. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the paper's conclusions because I am not well enough versed with the issue yet. Perhaps, the paper is correct and Canada is not a good example for gun control advocates to cite. The paper mentions a few other countries with very low homicide rates (some with strict gun control laws and others without) that may or may not serve as better models.

The issue is worth a little more study. However, for now, I leave you with these questions (for which I do not know the answer). Are the Canadian prairie provinces' gun control laws significantly stricter in practice than those of the American border states? Does a higher-than-expected homicide rate have something to do with Canadians disobeying gun control laws (see and ExploreNorth: Gun Control in Canada)? Is it possible that the homicide rates are comparable because enforcement is comparable?

I really don't know. Maybe you do. Leave a comment if you can enlighten me.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Bill and George in Episode 43: "A Tight Spot"

Editorial Note: Thanks to user zimv20 in the Political Discussions & War Discussion Forum for this image.

The first one to Iraq wins!

Bill and George in Episode 43: "A Tight Spot" is an image obtained from the Political Discussions & War Discussion Forum and renamed for use at Musings on America.
Originally uploaded by musingsonamerica.

This has been an Acme PhotoPost!

Did Alan Keyes Win or Lose?!

Now I'm not even sure...

Alan Keyes Conundrum is an image capture from Alan Keyes for Senate.
Originally uploaded by musingsonamerica.

This has been an Acme PhotoPost!

John Pushes Back...And So Do I

John, first off, thanks for your reply. Second off, you still don't get the point.

In a perfect world, every voter would carefully consider each relevant issue and judiciously assign a particular worth to that issue. Then, the voter would research the candidates' positions and compare those against his/her own fact-based, well-founded opinions. Rating the candidates (quantitatively or qualitatively) on each of these issues and adjusting for the weights already assigned to each, the voter would now add whatever X factor in personality or character that he/she sees fit. Now, with a well-thought, cogent analysis, the voter feels he/she is ready for the booth.

Guess what? It ain't gonna happen. Two voting pathologies demonstrate why you cannot place all of the blame on voters.

Many voters do not have the time to vote responsibly, John. People are worried about replacing that job that Bush lost them. They are concerned about their kid's flu or their wife's cancer. Myriad personal issues take priority over any election, even one that many of us perceive as historic and critical. Can you blame them? Even if you can, their crime is being misinformed. Complicit in that crime is a slew of partisan media talking heads and masterful campaign spin doctors who are all too happy to prey on the voters' lack of time. These people, seeking to manipulate voters, are at fault, because they have a responsibility to the process that they are abusing to achieve their own ends.

Your problem, John, is that you go beyond vilifying this set of voters for its lack of knowledge...You proceed to blame it for Iraq and deficits and stem cell research, etc., etc., etc. Those aren't the crimes they committed.

Many voters are one-issue voters. In my ideal scheme above, these voters essentially place an infinite value on one issue, making it unnecessary to be informed about the others. Is this wise? Absolutely not. However, it is a candidate's job to convince the people that his/her agenda is not only right, but important. The burden lies on campaigns to communicate the value of various issues. If they cannot, then the one-issue voters will continue to vote simplistically.

Again, you are too eager to blame these voters for things they neither committed nor endorsed. I agree that it is irresponsible of these people to make decisions so singularly. However, in their minds, they are proceeding correctly. This is moot, though. As with the time-tight voters, one-issue voters' presumed mistake has nothing to do with Iraq or deficits or stem cell research or No Child Left Behind. These individuals assented along one line to one issue and that's it. They did not place their rubberstamps on the rest of these positions.

This is why what you and others are doing, John, is particularly dangerous. There are millions upon millions of Bush voters who probably disagree with him on several issues that many of us consider important. By categorically shoving them into this anti-progress, pro-war, back-to-the-1870s evangelical nut job box, you force them either to completely agree with Bush's opinions or to judge their decision as unethical and mistaken. Since, as I said, people do not want to be mistaken, when pushed into a corner, they will become more extreme.

By housing the diffident and the wayward with the rabid and the radical, you make more Pat Robertsons, not more Arlen Specters. I say that this only hurts us. We need to find ways to break into the shells of those who do not have time to come out and listen. We need to show those pigeonholed into one debate that there are other, vital debates going on. We need to translate our message into terms that can win back the millions of winnable voters whom we lost in this cycle.

You suggest that I'm denying the voters' inherent agency. No. I want us to reach out to voters because they do have agency. What gives me hope is that many of them executed that agency to agree to the war, to the tax cuts, or to any number of other issues, in specific. Voters do not vote wholesale for their candidate's positions. If they did, Karl Rove would be correct and George Bush would have a mandate on the debate.

They don't, he doesn't, and you're wrong.

George Bush--Definitely Ad Nauseum

Editorial Note: Thanks to user Thomas Veil at's Political Discussions & War Discussion Forum for pointing this out.

There have been a number of bad Presidents in American history, but I'm racking my brains to think of one so widely hated by the world. Partly, it's just more apparent because of the internet. Additionally, people around the world are more interested and concerned with global events than they once were (a simple by-product of more advanced communication). However, it is just dishonest not to attribute this to the magic of George Walker Bush.

What is it of which I speak? George Bush has been voted the best movie villain for his appearance in Farenheit 9/11 by readers of the British magazine, Total Film. A dose of satire is good for any administration, but feelings about Bush around the Earth have escalated from mild-manner fun-poking to true frustration and despair. And it is not fair to argue that F9/11 was skewed and that is the origin of all of these people's impressions. People see Bush everywhere--In the New York Times, the BBC, The Guardian, the Hindu, the Japan Times, Al-Ahram--everywhere. And this is what they think of the President of the United States, the leader of this nation, and, for now at least, the leader of the free world.

It's not the whole world's fault either. Total Film: Thanks for this Total Shame. We probably deserve it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

John Kerry: Redux or Ad Nauseum?

John Kerry is running for President...Oh, I'm sorry, I mean he ran for President, right?

No. John Kerry is running for President, in either this cycle or the next. A recent e-mail to supporters reveals that this man, for better or worse, is not done. The conservatives maligned him, lied about him, and apparently beat him, but John Kerry has not left his post. The fight continues and the latest installment of this whirlwind serial is perhaps the most interesting.

John Kerry 2004

On November 3rd, John Kerry expressed his certainty that the election was, indeed, over. To conservatives, this was a relief: Finally, Democrats have come to grips with reality! To liberals, it was a disappointment or even an outrage: Something is rotten in Ohio and Florida, but everyone is ignoring the stench. Either way, most Americans thought that the election was over. Perhaps it was a resounding victory or a crippling defeat, but whatever it was, it was done.

That was terribly naïve of us. As an increasing number of reports about possible voter fraud have appeared, the doubt cast on electronic voting machines in this election has only grown. Months ago, Howard Dean showed us just one easy way to hijack an election. Without a doubt, sharp conservative (or liberal) operatives could devise others. However, for a time, the post-election reports seemed only a murmur in the far reaches of Air America and Those tiny pockets of liberal radio bemoaned another election stolen...But the news of possible fraud in Florida and Ohio never broke in the mainstream media in any significant way. This story, it appeared, would simply fade away.

While it is still true that this compelling morsel of information has hardly enticed most of the media, it appears that it has drawn Democrats, from bottom to top. It is still a risky wager, but I do not think this story is going away and I think that John Kerry has made that clear in his e-mail.

Let's take it in small bites.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. (Kerry, "The next step" par. 4)

A few weeks ago, John Kerry was certain of the eventual outcome of this election. Not so much anymore. The wording of this sentence suggests that the final tally is still in question: Hey, the electoral vote is still a few weeks away. Anything could happen.

It is quite evident that personally, Kerry doubts the legitimacy of the election.

It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process. (Kerry, "The next step" par. 5)

Where he says "people," one can easily insert "I." He projects his lack of faith in the "voting process" onto the American people, or at least, his supporters. (Kerry, "The next step" par. 5) For the most part, it is probably a reasonable characterization. However, this does not diminish the fact that John Kerry is skeptical, too. This is important because if Kerry wants to hit hard on this issue, he sure is waiting a long time to do it. Perhaps he is suspicious and will wait to see what the final vote count reveals or perhaps this is the reason he has 15 to 17 million dollars left in his campaign coffers. (Fournier, par. 7)

It would be excellent if Kerry commits himself to fighting voter fraud, in specific and in general. As he says, it is unacceptable that many Americans cannot trust their own electoral system. Kerry, in his letter states:

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. ("The next step" par. 5)

Transparency is a critical issue and it is encouraging that in addition to seeking truth in this election, John Kerry promises to fight for truth in all elections.

But maybe, just maybe, John Kerry has a direct interest in free and fair Presidential elections in years to come.

John Kerry 2008

Kerry may also have a longer-term interest in his remaining campaign funds. His still-robust campaign war chest have made Democrats wary of designs that Kerry might have for the future. (Fournier, par. 7) Fournier writes that Kerry "could use [the estimated 15 to 17 million dollars remaining] as seed money for another presidential bid." (par. 7) Kerry's letter to supporters not only hints at this cycle's struggle, but smacks of electoral dreams in years to come. The letter emphasizes that he will play an active role in not only Democratic Party politics, but in Democratic Party policy, far into the forseeable future.

He states:

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. (Kerry, "The next step" par. 7)

A senator planning on taking a supporting role would likely be a little bit more conciliatory. However, John Kerry is keeping his gloves off, suggesting that he wants to hold onto his position as the Democratic Party's poster child. Moreover, he repeats (as he did many times in the campaign) the idea of remembering "our own values." (Kerry, "The next step" par. 7) He is providing a direction and vision.

This is not that convincing though. It could be no more than post-election fluff were it not for the remainder of the letter. Consider the following.

This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans. (Kerry "The next step" par. 7)

One of the most serious criticisms lodged against Kerry during his (first) Presidential run was that he did nothing of significance during a decades-long tenure in the Senate. For example, Ciro Scotti wrote in Business Week that "Kerry's thin record of policymaking during almost 20 years in the Senate isn't cool." (Scotti par. 20) This softball criticism of Kerry's record pales before the Republican National Committee's take on it. G. Gordon Liddy has posted on his website a copy of a piece written by the RNC called "Do Nothing Senator", with the subheading Kerry Offered Small Bills, But Little Change. (Republican National Committee) The article claims that Kerry's work on eventually successful legislation is not substantial and cites a list of columns that apparently agree. (Republican National Committee) For instance, citing David Nather's "Kerry's Complex Record and His Pursuit of the Presidency," the RNC argues that "Kerry has done little work on major issues," including education and health care. (Republican National Committee, par. 7)

This makes Kerry's promise to deliver sweeping health insurance legislation extremely significant. John Kerry is translating a key campaign promise into real action, all the while combating Republican rhetoric that he has squandered his years and influence in the Senate. It may be true that Kerry's activity on this issue stems from a sincere desire to correct health care inequalities in this country. However, this is not the move of a person planning on a quiet transition to retirement and anonymity.

Furthermore, Kerry is not pursuing this issue in the way that a less-ambitious individual might.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors: (Kerry, "The next step" par. 10)

On one hand, it could be argued that Kerry is using his bully pulpit to gain popular support for legislation that would otherwise have a difficult time in a conservative Congress. Nevertheless, such an approach has a secondary effect: It rallies the citizenry behind not only a cause, but a man. Kerry seeks not simply to be a prominent politician, but a populist one, as well. He is demonstrating his dedication to the people by entreating them for support on a vital matter. Kerry recognizes our importance as members of this society and, in turn, we may repay his consideration.

This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again. (Kerry, "The next step" par. 12)

Here, Kerry continues to project a populist persona. But notably, he is also trying to evoke the emotions of his readers by reminding them that the wayward Bush administration reviles them and their opinions. John Kerry, this letter suggets, will be the man to lead us in the quest against conservative elitism and greed.

Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.
(Kerry, "The next step" par. 13-14)

This is the kicker. John Kerry takes responsibility for and authority over the party. In this passage, he sets out his command for the future of the Democrats. John Kerry is trying to reinforce (or, some would say, protect) his position as the most visible and important Democrat. Besides, who says "roll up our sleeves" aside from future Presidential candidates?

It's a few years and many, many political news stories away from the next Presidential campaign. It is never too early to plan, though. After losing the Presidency in 1960, Richard Nixon quickly began work to mount a more successful future bid. Could it be that John Kerry, too, sees an opportunity for future success?

Many predict (especially liberals) that the country will be in an unprecedented condition of economic, social, military, and diplomatic ruin come four years. If President Bush really does move further into the abyss of neoconservatism, as his recent cabinet shuffle seems to suggest he will, then it might not be possible for any Republican to run on his coattails in four years. If 2008 becomes the Year of the Backlash (as 2004 was supposed to be), then perhaps John Kerry will be the only person in the country able to say that he's better off now than he was four years ago.

By taking the initiative to be deeply involved in the party's process and goals, John Kerry really could launch a comeback. But do we want him to?

No matter what the true result of this year's Presidential election was, it taught Democrats an important lesson. The party is depends too much on too many questionable swing states and is quite unsuccessful with exurban, suburban, and rural voters. The Democratic Party has to retool its communication and it might be best to shed its baggage by, well, shedding its baggage.

Indeed, it might be slightly selfish for John Kerry to monopolize the center stage when other, more viable 2008ers need to gain visibility. Some Democrats are frustrated that Kerry retained some of his money without boosting his campaign or one of any number of Congressional campaigns around the country. (Fournier) Over-involvement by John Kerry could ultimately hurt the party. I think this remains to be seen, but The New Republic, with its liberal but anti-Kerry bent, has already made its decision. Its editors quip, "Kerry certainly does deserve to retain a role within the party. That role ought to be the same as it was before he ran for president: second-most influential senator from Massachusetts." (The New Republic, par. 8) The extent to which The New Republic's opinion matters may be more questionable than Kerry's proper role in the party, though, considering its endorsement of Joe Lieberman. (Peretz, par. 1) The editors are right, though, when they say that Kerry "is not an effective communicator." (The New Republic, par. 3) That the Republicans could so easily distort his message with their flip-flop campaign shows that Kerry is not a Kennedy, Reagan, or Clinton.

John Kerry, in this election, represented everything that was wrong about the Democrats: The substance is on target, but the message really, really is not. Can Democrats afford to give this man a second chance? He did demonstrate uncanny grace and pithy profundity in his concession speech, but whether he can sustain that sort of charisma is questionable...And whether all that is even enough for the dramatic change that the Democrats must embrace is also uncertain.

Nevertheless, one cannot help but applaud Kerry's endeavors. Despite an enormous setback, he is more dedicated than ever before to causes of virtue and dignity. Anyone can admire his commitment to improving America. In fact, from all of the promises of this campaign, there is only one that I trust will ring true: "I assure you--you watch--I still have yours." (Kerry, "Address" par. 6) And that is almost enough for me to make sure I have his, against all odds. For what it's worth, I'll sign Protect Every Child. I think you should, too.

Works Cited

1. Editors. "Back to Reality." The New Republic. 10 November 2004. (
2. Fournier, Ron. "Democrats Question Kerry's Campaign Funds." Yahoo! News/Associated Press. 17 November 2004. (
3. Kerry, John. "Address to Supporters at Fanueil Hall." John Kerry for President. 3 November 2004. (
4. Kerry, John. "The next step." E-mail to Supporters. 19 November 2004.
5. Scotti, Ciro. "Who's the Cool Guy This Year?" BusinessWeek. 29 October 2004. (
6. Peretz, Martin. "Bad Messenger." The New Republic. 11 November 2004. (
7. Republican National Committee, The. "Do-Nothing Senator." G. Gordon Liddy's Official Website. (