Wednesday, July 28, 2004

teresa's speech

I liked this line (along with a quote from Lincoln about "better angels"):
"In short, John believes that we can, and we must, lead in the world as America, unique among nations, always should--by showing the face, not of its fears, but of our hopes."

Before 9/11, I never believed that the President as a symbol mattered much. After 9/11, I think we all got a lesson in how large segments of the country take their cue from their leadership. Perhaps it was only those people predisposed to name-calling derision and fear-driven violence, perhaps it was only that those people needed affirmation that that type of response was acceptable, but this country descended to a level that left me saddened and ashamed. So that's why, I guess, I respond to people who talk about character, and to a presidential candidate who has the kind of character I want to see.

About Teresa's speech, I was surprised and disappointed when, on PBS, David Brooks again dismissed a good speech as just "fine". He was far more "concerned" about what he thought she should have said, and had virtually no opinion at all on what she did say. He felt she, as a candidate's wife, was supposed to give us some personal insight into Kerry the man, some anecdote about daily life and their relationship. He also suggested that while the speech started out strong, it wound down and she lost energy from the crowd.

Brooks' comments about crowd energy did not reflect the reception I saw on TV, nor by many bloggers who have subsequently posted. If David based his opinion on the number of people leaving during the speech (which I could not see and have no clue about--it could have been zero), he seems to have neglected the fact that the hour was very late and Teresa was the last in a very long line of speakers. I thought the crowd received her very well.

Brooks also seems to have neglected the fact that Teresa will be speaking again on Thursday, when she will be introducing her husband. Isn't that a far more appropriate point at which to let loose one of those conventional personal anecdotes--when it might add color the subsequent speech? Brooks based his opinion on the fact that Kerry badly needs to be made human, which may or may not be true. Brooks neglected to see, however, that people also want personal insight into Teresa Heinz Kerry, and that's exactly what she gave them. In addition, at least in my opinion, it reflects extremely well on Kerry that he partnered with this intelligent, articulate, and poised woman, and that there is something in him sufficient to attract this woman in the first place.