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An Advance Peek at Kerry's Acceptance Speech

An Advance Peek at Kerry's Acceptance Speech (Fiction)

By Bernard Weiner
The Crisis Papers

What follows are excerpts from a supposed draft copy of Senator John Kerry's upcoming acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. We cannot vouch for its authenticity, or whether Kerry actually will deliver anything close to this purported draft. But wouldn't it be a great day for democracy and progressive ideals if this were more than an imagined address?


My fellow Democrats, and my fellow Americans. Thank you, thank you. I accept your nomination with great humility and determination -- to win, to fight hard, to start the process of repairing the current Administration's gross damage to our Constitution, to our economy, to our reputation abroad, to our sense of ourselves as a brave, honest, hopeful nation.

When others were dying all around me in Vietnam, and I survived, I chose to use the life granted me for public service, doing the best I could to make this country better, stronger in its morality and sense of just purpose, aiding others less fortunate. I remain of that mind, dedicated to preserving the best of America and improving those areas where we still have work to do.

As you probably already know, I came back from 'Nam as something of an angry young man. My president had lied to me and to my fellow warriors, and to the American people. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, were dying because of stubborness, bad policy, corrupt intelligence, poor military planning and sloppy analysis.

I vowed to fight that administration and help close down that war; with the aid of other concerned veterans and the American citizenry, we finally forced our country to recognize the enormous, reckless mistake that had been made and the Nixon administration negotiated an end to that awful war. A negotiated settlement, by the way, not much different from the one we could have had years before -- and thus could have saved the lives of thousands of our young men -- but for the pigneaded stubbornness of our elected officials.


Today, as we look at our misadventure in Iraq, I stand before you determined not to repeat the mistake of Vietnam. The first act of my new administration will be to devote all our resources to extricating ourselves from Iraq as quickly as possible, with honor.

Swayed by the Bush Administration's phony intelligence and lies presented to the Congress, I voted to authorize war against Iraq. That vote was a mistake on my part, trusting the word of yet another "war president." I wish I'd better remembered how my government had misled Congress and the American public on Vietnam, and wish I had more diligently scrutinized the cooked "intelligence" coming from the Bush administration with regard to Iraq.

But I am, we all are, wiser now. It's quite plain that the Bush Administration took us into a war of choice for reasons they never acknowledged publicly, but which were rationalized by lies and deceptions concerning the supposed "massive" and "imminent" threat Saddam Hussein posed to his neighbors and to the United States.

We were led to believe that poisons and chemical agents would be dispersed over the East Coast of the United States by Iraqi drone planes; that Iraq possessed and was equipped to use chemical and biological and nuclear agents against our troops and against the American population at home; that Iraq was involved with Osama bin Laden in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and so on.

None of these claims was true. Neither was the assertion by the Iraqi exiles that our invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk and that our troops would be greeted as liberators. True, most Iraqis loved that we toppled the brutal dictator Saddam for them, since they were not able to do it themselves. But our subsequent Occupation of the country, even despite many good ways we helped the Iraqis in re-establishing their civil society, was seen as brutal and humiliating and despotic. The widespread, systemic torture and rape of Iraqi detainees, including children, fueled the insurgency.

As in Vietnam, our planners apparently made no effort to understand the language, the culture, or the complexities of ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. As in Vietnam, we tried unsuccessfully to crush native rebellions with the use of high-tech weaponry and overwhelming force and suppression. As in Vietnam, our troops were ill-equipped physically and ill-prepared psychologically and philosophically to fight a guerrilla war against clever, determined, nationalist native forces.


We went into Iraq basically on our own -- only the United Kingdom, also lured in by lies and deceptions, joined the fight in a major way -- and we insulted and humiliated our long-time allies, who warned us against our folly in invading that country.

The second action I will take after our administration begins will be to repair those broken and strained alliances.

I vow tonight, before God and the American people, that I will never take this country into a war of choice, but will attack only in case of extreme necessity and as a last resort -- and, if and when that latter situation occurs, only at the head of a broad coalition of major powers and with clear international approval, and funds, for our effort.


...Unlike the current Administration, I recognize that before we can ever hope to affect major change in the greater Middle East, we must first help solve the Israel/Palestine puzzle. If we do not do that, we will continue to arouse the suspicions of Muslim cultures worldwide about any of our policies, and will help provide rich soil in which terrorism grows.

Israel, a strong ally of the United States, for many good reasons, must be supported. Likewise, the just aspirations of the Palestinians, for many good reasons, must be supported; there will be, and should be, a viable Palestinian state. Each side will have to make adjustments to its goals, and its maps, in order to reach the point where the two nations can live side-by-side, in peace.

I vow that my administration will work tirelessly and innovatively to help secure a just settlement of that dispute, and that I, as President of the United States, will go to Jerusalem to witness the signing of the comprehensive peace treaty arranged between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with the aid of the United States.


....I vow to re-think the way the so-called "war on terrorism" is being fought. There are bad guys out there, several thousand of them, and we will take the lead, along with our allies, in rounding them up and putting Al Qaida out of business.

But we do not need to frighten our citizens into accepting a state of "permanent war" in order to go after these craven mass-murderers. We do not need to torture suspects in order to obtain information; we will get more human intelligence agents out into the field, to find out what's really going on. We do not need to shred our Constitutional guarantees of due process of law, or to shrink our Bill of Rights -- which countless generations of our soldiers fought to preserve. In short, we do not need to turn away from our national heritage but to embrace it -- after all, constitutional government and respect for liberty is what distinguishes us from terrorists.

I promise you tonight to appoint as Attorney General a strong, effective law-enforcement specialist who will not go to unconstitutional excesses in securing our citizens, and one who will respect the traditions and institutions that protect our civil liberties. That nominee, when confirmed, will lead the fight to get extremist aspects of the so-called "Patriot" Act out of our jurisprudence.


...Our economy should be stronger. Our citizens should be able to support their families with full-time, well-paying jobs, with benefits -- not have to take two or three part-time jobs, with no benefits, in order to make ends meet. I will immediately appoint a blue-ribbon panel of economists and working-class leaders, chaired by Vice President Edwards, to come up with recommendations -- within 90 days -- for re-invigorating our job market and our economy.

...In addition, I will appoint an independent commission of doctors and patients-rights groups to examine the health-care and HMO system, so that we can better provide affordable health insurance to all our citizens. And I will appoint a committee of teachers, principals, parents and students to figure out innovative ways to improve our public school system, at all levels, from preschool to college.

....I vow here tonight that the polluters no longer will be in control of writing our environmental laws. Our air and water and natural surroundings are precious resources that must be protected by citizens and their government, not put in the greedy hands of the highest corporate bidders.

...Judges will be nominated who will be distinguished by their adherence to the rational middle rather than to furthering an ideological agenda.


...And so, my fellow Americans, I urge you tonight to take our country back from the edge of the radical cliff to which the current administration has taken us, to a place where we respect ordinary citizens and trust them to make up their minds based on facts, not on lies and deception and manipulation.

Together, we can shed much of our fear, and reclaim civility -- even as we recognize that there will be bad people out there trying to harm us. Together, we can alter the soil in which terrorism grows by changing our policy focus in many hotspots of the world. Together we can calm the internationial waters through diplomacy and power-sharing with our allies. Together, we can move our country forward to a future of hope and global comity. Together, we can build our economy to provide more good jobs, and better health care, and more dynamic education.

Let America be America again. We CAN reclaim and re-energize and restore our country's greatness. Together. TOGETHER. TOGETHER!

God bless you and God bless America.


Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught American government at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers ( He is a contributing author to "Big Bush Lies," available at Barnes&Noble, and local bookstores.

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