August 4th, 2004


John Kerry in Dubuqe

We (melissa, sean, theresa (sean's gf), and chris (sean's roomate) drove up to Dubuque to see Kerry speak last night. My impressions:

1. I disliked the tiered seating. Unions and people who got their tickets directly from the campaign offices got to sit in a section close to the stage, and really connected folks were in a mosh pit right around the low stage. We were in bleachers behind and to the side of the stage with TV lights in our eyes all night.

2. Kerry was OK, but gave most of his Convention speech verbatim. I get the impression that these rallies are pretty much rituals meant to bond candidate with the faithful. He's improved a lot since January as a speaker; he comes across as passionate and likeable instead of gloomy and robotic.

3. Harkin is about 100x the speaker than Kerry. He's a real midwestern populist in the mold of Bob LaFollette, and is more comfortable hyping up a crowd than just about anyone I've ever seen.

4. Dave Grohl played, and while I think his music is just-ok bland pop, he is pretty good at making the most of playing a guitar and singing. The youngsters seemed to dig it. He was a vaste improvement on the last rocker-pimping-for-a-candidate I saw, Joan Jett.

5. Theresa Heinz Kerry was the most interesting person to hear speak, because she was completely winging it. She would start a sentence, and then pause in the middle because she didn't know yet how it was going to end. She made the announcment that "If John wasn't doing this, he would be a great Kindergarten teacher, because he just loves kids." This seemed to come as a complete surprise to Kerry. You get the sense that she's pretty much nuts, but in a good way.

6. The only tidbit I hadn't heard from Kerry is that he wants to set up some sort of program where young people can trade 2 years of community service for a 4 year ride in a state school. Sounds fine by me. I don't see how you can waste money on educating people; I've always thought that we'd get further as a country if we sentenced people to college rather than prison for non-violent crimes.

(no subject)

I linked to a speech by Bob LaFollette in my last post, and I really encourage people to read it:

"I think all men recognize that in time of war the citizen must surrender some rights for the common good which he is entitled to enjoy in time of peace. But sir, the right to control their own Government according to constitutional forms is not one of the rights that the citizens of this country are called upon to surrender in time of war.

"Rather in time of war the citizen must be more alert to the preservation of his right to control his Government. He must be most watchful of the encroachment of the military upon the civil power. He must beware of those precedents in support of arbitrary action by administration officials which, excused on the plea of necessity in war time, become the fixed rule when the necessity has passed and normal conditions have been restored."