John Kerry and the L-Word

I’ve heard John Kerry accuse George Bush of misleading the country in public. I’ve heard of John Kerry accuse George Bush of lying in comments not intended for the public. I may be mistaken, but I do not recall John Kerry repeatedly use the word lie in public previously. Apparently the gloves are now off, and presumably Kerry is preparing for a major fight in 2008. At the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraising dinner, the l-word was used repeatedly:

“A lie, a lie, a lie, a lie. What we have in Washington is a house of lies, and in November, we need to clean house.”

“They tell us we’re making progress in Iraq and that there is no civil war. That is a lie,” Kerry said. “It’s immoral to lie about progress in that war in order to get through a news cycle or an election cycle.”

Republicans also are lying when they claim the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley is a Democratic plot to win the midterm elections, said Kerry.

Update: Full transcript under the fold.

John Kerry’s Keynote Address at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Remarks as prepared for delivery

My fellow Democrats: My friends from an extraordinary journey:

This war in Iraq is a disgrace.

Bob Woodward’s right – they are in a state of denial. But it’s worse. They’re also in a state of deception.

They tell us we’re making progress in Iraq and that there is no civil war. That is a lie. There is a civil war and it is costing American and Iraqi lives every single day and we must change course in Iraq.

They tell us the Johns Hopkins study on Iraqi casualties is phony. That is a lie. And we can see the truth on our television sets every single day.

They tell us the Congressional Page scandal is a Democratic plot to win the mid term elections. That is a lie. This issue is here because of a Republican cover-up. And those from the Party that preaches moral values that covered this up, have no right to preach moral values any more.

They tell us the North Korean nuclear test is the fault of Bill Clinton. That is a lie. North Korea’s nuclear program was frozen under Bill Clinton. When George W Bush turned his back on diplomacy, Kim Jong IL turned back to bomb-making – and the world is less safe because a madman has the Bush Bomb.

A lie. A lie. A lie. A lie. What we have in Washington is a house of lies and it is time to clean house in November.

And for those who question my opposition to this war, just as they questioned my opposition to Vietnam after I returned – let me tell you – when you know the truth – when the facts are there for all to understand, when the lies and deception have finally been laid bare for all to see, then it is both a right and an obligation to disagree with a President who is wrong, a policy that is wrong, and a war in Iraq that weakens our nation.

They say we must support the war in order to support the troops. I say the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, oppose a course that dishonors their sacrifice, and oppose a course that disserves our principles. They say we would dishonor the lives that have been lost by changing course in Iraq. How immoral and shameful to use lives already given as an excuse to take even more. How immoral to say that more must die because others already have. When soldiers suffer and die on the altar of an Administration’s stubborn pride, when they lose limbs because of the incompetence and arrogance of mere politicians, then the only patriotic choice is to take back the moral authority abused by those in high office – take it back and throw them out.

In New Hampshire, Congressmen Bass and Congressman Bradley have failed to ask the tough questions, failed to demand the answers, and rubberstamped a willful president’s wrongful course. That failure demands the independent voice of New Hampshire be represented by the independent voices of Paul Hodes and Carol Shea Porter!

Replacing Jeb Bradley and Charlie Bass becomes even more urgent when they rubberstamp the agenda of an administration that refuses to debate their policies or disclose the facts – and when that administration uses their own military blunders to deflect opposition and answer their own failures with more of the same.

Let me tell you, presidents and politicians may worry about losing face, or losing votes, or losing legacy – I believe we ought to worry about young Americans who are losing their lives.

And then there’s Donald Rumsfeld – he’s been called the most stubborn, incompetent, arrogant Defense Secretary in American history, and that’s just what the Republicans are saying. Don Rumsfeld — the man who should have been fired as Secretary of Defense long ago. Donald Rumsfeld recently gave an ugly speech in which he smeared those who dissent from a catastrophic policy, and then he spoke of “moral confusion “.

Well there certainly is a lot of moral confusion around these days!

It’s immoral for old men to send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a strategy that can work – on a mission that has not weakened terrorism but worsened it.

It’s immoral to lie about progress in that war to get through a news cycle or an election.

It’s immoral to treat 9/11 as a political pawn – and to continue to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day. They were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama Bin Laden.

We’ve seen in recent days these guys will say anything, do anything, twist any truth, and even endanger our nation’s character to survive a mid term election.

Well I think Americans see through this charade. Americans now know the truth:

We have a Katrina foreign policy –blunders and failures that have betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.

And Americans know the Republican playbook backwards and forwards: Every time the administration is down in the polls, every time their political opponents at home appear to gain, they trot out the fear card. Enough is enough! We deserve leaders who know we have “nothing to fear but fear itself” not politicians who have nothing to offer but fear itself.

The President wants Americans to believe only one party wants to fight terror. Now there’s a cynical game to try and win an election! What we need is not a game plan to capture a few Congressional seats; we need a game plan to capture Osama Bin Laden!

And that game plan begins by leveling with the American people about Iraq, not pretending Iraq is the central front of the war on terror. It is not now, and it never has been. The truth is the president’s disastrous decisions have made Iraq a fuel depot for terror – fanning the flames of conflict around the world.

The truth is Iraq distracts and diverts from the real war on terror. Even the Republican Chairman of the Armed Services Committee has returned from Iraq to say that they’ve got 3 months left to end the violence – sure sounds like a timetable to me! It is long since time to make clear: no American soldier should be sacrificed because squabbling Iraqi politicians refuse to compromise. It is time for a summit to do the diplomacy, and it is time to set a deadline for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home!

Now, I know what the Republicans will do. They’ll wrap our strategy in slogans. They’ll try to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men – or women. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their lies.

No Democrat should be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan, a do nothing policy in North Korea and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq. We need to stand up to them because staying the course isn’t far-sighted; it’s blind. Leaving our troops in the middle of a civil war isn’t resolute; it’s reckless. Remember: half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall died after America’s leaders knew our strategy would not work. It was immoral then and it would be immoral now to engage in the same delusion.

You know it used to be that America stood for something different. The world looked to us for leadership. Politics ended at the water’s edge. This President has squandered the goodwill of the world after 9/11. We need to once again start treating our moral authority as a national asset that does not tie our hands but extends our reach. We must never excuse an Abu Ghraib or a Guantanamo. And let me say it plainly: No American president should be for torture before he’s against it.

So more than anything, we need to make America, America again –we need to restore America’s moral authority in the world and the United States needs to make some friends on this planet.

But you know what — We’ve got to fix something that’s broken here at home too.

We are the people who have always been able to dream dreams and turn them into the life around us. For too many Americans – for too many of our children that is not life today. We have to change that. I don’t want Americans just dreaming dreams. I want Americans able to live their dreams.

What is happening to workers and their families in our country today is wrong.

The administration wants you to believe the economy has never been better. They say, just look at the stock market. But Americans know the stock market has never told the full story. The story of people working harder and longer and wages that is frozen or down along with benefits that are being cut. The story of feeling trapped by energy costs that go up – pensions that disappear – tuition costs that skyrocket — student loan burdens that are staggering – credit card debt through the roof. It’s the real story of jobs going overseas and of uncertainty in the lives of Americans who struggle with health care they can’t afford for themselves let alone for parents and grandparents who live longer. It’s the story of a working mother I will never forget in Pennsylvania – Lori Shelton – who said to me: “I’m tired of telling my children no.”

And in the middle of these pressures it’s the story of a Republican Congress completely out of touch with the lives of real Americans – a Congress too often not even trying to make a difference except for their cronies and powerful friends. No Congress in touch would dare give itself 8 pay raises but refuse to raise the minimum wage even once.

Katrina pulled back the curtain – and guess what — there wasn’t even a wizard behind it. In fact, there are more Katrinas. Take health care – health care is a slow-motion Katrina that’s ruining lives and bankrupting families all over the country. In the almost six Bush years, health insurance premiums have gone up 73 percent; reverse the numbers now and you have President’s Bush’s approval ratings.

You want a test of family values? Here’s a really simple test: Instead of people earning a million dollars a year getting another tax cut, give every child in America health care – now!

But it’s not just kids. Look at Wal-Mart – you know what they do? They use workers until they get sick, don’t cover them for check-ups, and then tell them they’re on their own. The nice person who greets you at Wal-Mart’s door is shown the door when illness strikes. Less than forty percent of the employees at our nation’s largest corporation have health insurance. That’s 600,000 working Americans on their own. And yet five of the ten richest people in America are Wal-Mart stockholders from the same family—worth double-digit billions each! It’s immoral that they can’t find the money to buy health coverage for their own workers and their families. It’s immoral that millions of Americans with full-time jobs are ending up without health insurance. That’s Bush’s America. Well in our America no family should be left with their fingers crossed, hoping to dodge a bullet, afraid that bad news from their doctor will leave them bankrupt or without care. Man, I’d love to remind some of these Republicans who talk about values that the Scriptures do not command us to “heal the sick” only if they have the money to pay for it.

So our job as Democrats is to fight until we stop allowing the richest country on the face of the planet to be the only one that doesn’t have health care for every man, woman, and child. The Democratic Party must stand for health care for all Americans—or we don’t stand for anything at all.

We are ready to win — here in the Granite State and around the country. But we can only win if you do what you did here in New Hampshire last time. You came together under the great leadership of Kathy Sullivan, —you knocked on doors – talked to your neighbors, built an army of citizens and elected a terrific Governor in John Lynch and you made New Hampshire blue.

I know what you’re up against. I know we’re fighting fear. I know we’re fighting cynicism.

But next time you knock on someone’s door, and they say “well, I don’t trust the Republicans anymore, but the Democrats don’t have any ideas,” here’s what you do.

You tell them that if by ideas they mean running the debt up to nine trillion dollars and privatizing Social Security; if by ideas they mean violating the law, ignoring international treaties and lobbying for torture; letting the oil companies write the energy bill, the drug companies write the prescription drug bill and the credit card companies write the bankruptcy bill — then they’re right: We don’t have ideas like those. Those are bad ideas being shoved down the throats of the American people and we’re proud we stood up and said no to them every step of the way.

So what are our ideas? What do we say yes to? How will things be different with Carol Shea Porter and Paul Hodes in Congress?

How about starting with this: tell the American people the truth, then, fire the incompetents!

Make America secure with energy independence.

Value work, not wealth, and make our tax code fair.

Export products, not jobs.

Make health care accessible and affordable for all Americans.

Do something about global climate change and, while we’re at it, clean up our lakes and rivers so our kids can fish and swim in the United States.

Set a deadline for Iraqis to run Iraq and bring our heroes home.

These are real ideas. But these ideas will only become powerful if you stand up and fight for your values.

Let me tell you about one of the people who reminded me what values really are.

Austin Griffin. Austin died this year at 91. You’ve probably never heard of him, which was just fine by Austy.

I met him over twenty years ago. I was a prosecutor, going after the Mob.

A group of thugs from one of the most ruthless gangs – I mean killers — had walked into the Disabled Vets Hall Austin helped run. They told him, “We’re putting in slot machines, here. We want protection money. Do this by Friday, or else.”

They picked the wrong guy. Austy was a World War II hero. He came to me and told me what was happening.

We got him protection around the clock. But when you take on killers, you’re scared no matter how much protection you have. Scared every time you walk out the door. Every time you turn the key in your ignition.

Austin Griffin never wavered. He testified. He looked them right in the eye. We broke up that gang and they’re still in prison.

When Austin died this July, his daughter said she knew her dad “wasn’t going to cave” “My father had his values,” she said.

New Hampshire Democrats — we have our values. And we’re not going to waver. We’re not going to cave.

We need you to stand up and fight again. Stand up and fight if you want an America that is finally and forever independent of Mideast oil – an America that relies on its ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family.

Stand up and fight so the United States stops being the only denier of global warming. Stand up and fight so we give our people back the truth, and give the world back its future.

Stand up so that instead of making a mockery of the words No Child Left Behind, we build an America where college education is affordable and accessible for every student willing to work for it.

Stand up if you’re tired of seeing America divided into red states and blue states; because you know we can be one America — red, white, and blue.

Stand up so we can carry our cause into every corner of the nation–not just to oppose what has failed but to propose a new direction that can that will make America safe.

Stand up for something that’s simple and fundamental and that’s been lost for too long under this administration – Stand up for the common good.

Stand up to those who seek refuge in the slogan “My country right or wrong.” And tell them: “Yes, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right and when wrong, make it right.” That’s our mission – yours and mine – to get off our rear ends – go out – take these 25 days and make it right.

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    mbk says:

    I watched this speech on CSPAN, live, and his passionate and repeated use of the l-word was music to my ears.

  2. 2
    Marcus says:

    Hi Gang

    Now I want to hear him say the other “L” word repeatedly
    Liberal Liberal Liberal!

    Time to take the word back

  3. 3
    Marcus says:

    P.S.
    Due to the fact that I’m forgiving to a fault, when he officially announces his candidacy I will commit to him again – PROVIDED he keeps the gloves off and is willing to wrestle them to the dirt!
    Two years ago I would not have even believed I would ever write these words.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Marcus,

    If you’re reading here, I assume you’ve noted the articles discussing Kerry’s more aggressive stance on responding to the lies about him.

  5. 5
    Marcus says:

    Yup I have Ron, But as I said, as long as he KEEPS the gloves off! I never lost faith in his ability to be a great president but just his ability to fight hard, let’s face it thats were he totally blew it last time. As a veteran myself I would have rubbed in their faces day after day the fact that most of those pansy ass idiots that swift boated him never served a day in their life and in fact cut and ran from their duty in the Viet Nam War.

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