Monday, March 15, 2004

Kerry's Strength

Having just watched Kerry address the Int'l Assoc. of Fire Fighters it was impressed on me what may be Kerry's greatest asset. Perhaps it is a residue of leading men in battle, but Kerry best stirs me when he speaks of the bonds of loyalty, duty, and mutual sacrifice, shared between people in adversity.

His rhetorical style is often orotund, overly fussy, ponderous, and indirect. He winds up for far too long, and once he pitches his point, it is weighted with dependent clauses, clich├ęd modifiers, and unnecessary repetition and variation. The result is often rambling and flabby, yet enpurpled, diction that leaves the listener vaugely annoyed, rather than moved.

But much of this drops away, or just seems more appropriate, in the context of duty, shared sacrifice, and values. The frisson one gets upon hearing something that truly resonates with one's own deeply held views, thrums in me when Kerry hits his stride on the right topics. If it's not just me responding to these themes, and, having observed reactions at several Kerry events, I don't think it is, then Kerry has a good chance to really touch people in this campaign.

He needs to carry these themes into every area of his campaign. If he couches his policies consistently in terms of values, rather than promulgating abstract policy goals and details as he is apt to do, he should do very well and gather considerable enthusiastic support.

It was Dean's appeal to values and ideals of Americans which won him such strong support, not agreement on every point of policy. It was his demonstrated personal qualities of honesty, plain-spokeness, and humility that endeared him to so many. Kerry would do well to emulate Dean in this. Kerry can yet earn the admiration and support of all Democrats by playing to this strength, in place of the resigned support for an anybody but Bush which animates most voters support of Kerry at present.

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