Tuesday, Jul. 27, 2004 | 10:06 a.m.

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Warning: Political Views Ahead

I watched the first night of the DNC last night on C-SPAN. Today I spent some time re-reading the text of the speeches and going over John Kerry's website to get a better sense of the candidate.

John Kerry was not my first choice for the Democratic nomination. As I'm registered as an Independent, I suppose it doesn't really matter who my choice was, but since I plan to vote for the liberal candidate most likely to win this year, I paid attention to the primaries. My preference was Kucinich, though it was clear to me from the beginning that he was far to liberal to win the Democratic Party's nomination. And I do believe that in order for a liberal to win the election, he or she must be moderate enough to win the swing voters. So I can live with that. And, after perusing his website today, I can comfortably say I can live with John Kerry and John Edwards.

When Kerry added Edwards to his ticket, I was pleased. I liked Edwards in the primaries -- I appreciate where he's come from and I appreciate that he doesn't have oodles of years in Washington politics. Yes, you read that right. I am glad he isn't a lifelong politician. I find that refreshing and think that maybe he will have something to offer in the way of perspective. Maybe he's less entangled in the web.

My main aversion to Kerry (and Edwards, for that matter) is that he voted for the war in Iraq. So I dug around about that a bit and found a transcript of a speech Kerry gave on the Senate floor back in 2002. In this speech, Kerry makes it clear that he expected the President to work with the UN, that he expected support from the rest of the world. It is also clear that he believed the report given to Congress about the WMDs in Iraq -- indeed, this is the only reason Kerry believed we should be over there. I am trying to find a place where Kerry acknowledges that he was mislead, but haven't been successful -- if you have a link, please share it in the comments. So anyway, after reading this and some of Kerry's other military policies, I am somewhat mollified.

So what do I like about Kerry? I like national health care (especially that it would be extended to domestic partnerships). I like environmental protections. I like his vision for the economy. And I really appreciate that while his faith may dictate that abortion is wrong, he draws the line at legislating morality -- at forcing his religious beliefs on others. That seems like such a novelty in the light of the current administration, who only seem interested in promoting their own moral agenda to try to return the country to some fantastical 1955 ideal that really only exists in their (say it, Sponge Bob) Imagi-Naaation.

Here's what I want to remember from day one of the convention:

From Vice President Al Gore -- if only he had been as fired up for his own campaign. His work with Moveon.org has been so inspiring.

"And never has this been more true than in 2004, because-let's face it-our country faces deep challenges. These challenges we now confront are not Democratic or Republican challenges; they are American challenges-that we all must overcome together."

And one that hit home:

"I also ask tonight for the help of those who supported a third party candidate in 2000. I urge you to ask yourselves this question: do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates? Are you troubled by the erosion of some of America's most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis? No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this November 2d."

Ouch, Al. No, I don't still believe that there was no difference between the candidates. Mea culpa. But in the last election, I did ultimately vote for you because I realized that on some key issues Bush was the greater evil.

From President Jimmy Carter.

"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."

Delivered in that sweet tea Southern accent -- that last line is a beauty. And then, he said...

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

Woo! I'll bet the Republicans who liked to taunt Clinton about polls loved that one.

From Senator Hillary Clinton:

"We need to rededicate ourselves to the task of providing coverage for the 44 million Americans who are uninsured and the millions of others who face rising costs. We need to lift the ban on stem cell research, and find cures that will help millions of Americans."

Goddamned right, Hillary. Not that it would have been in time for Jasmine, but still.

From President Bill Clinton, who gave a fabulous speech. He's such a charismatic 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."

"At every turning point in our history we the people have chosen unity over division, heeding our founders’ call to America’s eternal mission: to form a more perfect union, to widen the circle of opportunity, deepen the reach of freedom, and strengthen the bonds of community.

It happened because we made the right choices. In the early days of the republic, America was at a crossroads much like it is today, deeply divided over whether or not to build a real nation with a national economy, and a national legal system. We chose a more perfect union.

In the Civil War, America was at a crossroads, divided over whether to save the union and end slavery—we chose a more perfect union. In the 1960s, America was at a crossroads, divided again over civil rights and women’s rights. Again, we chose a more perfect union. As I said in 1992, we’re all in this together; we have an obligation both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror. Now again, it is time to choose."

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