Kerry Visit

John Kerry spoke at the Rockefeller Center last night. Below are some general impressions, followed by running notes from his speech and the Q&A session that followed.

Kerry was very comfortable talking the envrionment and civil rights to Ivy League liberals. These are not issues I’d imagine he’d emphasize so much in a different forum. In national TV and small-town appearances alike, he won’t be able to pull out historical examples and be quite so esoteric and thorough about how debates have proceeded in Washington on different issues. It will be interesting to see him cut the fluff when he’s forced to be more succinct–i.e. when Tim Russert and Chris Matthews get a hold of him or when there’s a moderator.

Large American flag backdrop, first floor Rocky lounge

Supposed to start at 7:30

Starts a little after 8:00, but Kerry apologizes profusely

Wishes to offer “an alternative to Bush’s foreign policy”–first major crowd applause

Remarked that based on the numbers in attendance, “Either many of you want to change the world, or it says something about social life in Hanover”

Perhaps hasn’t been to Dartmouth since getting his “rear end kicked around” on the soccer and lacrosse fields

He serves along with another Rockefeller, Jay. At one point, they were #s 99 and 100 in seniority, but enjoyed sitting in Harry Truman’s old spot.

JFK and RFK assassination memories

George Bernard Shaw “why not” quote…—>environmental movement, women’s movement, peace movement, EPA, Clean Air and Water Acts

Universal health coverage–why not

Global warming: become energy independent in our generation–why not

Attended major summits: 1990 Rio, Buenos Aires, Kyoto, The Hague (only U.S. Senator)

Environmental efficiency important for national security

President Bush actually made a good point in one of his debates with Gore. Scoffs, “He was at Yale at a different time.” Bush said we should proceed with humility, not unilaterally.

AIDS in Africa–$1.2 billion secured along with Sen. Frist


We can make the nation more secure “by making some friends on this planet.”

A call to “go to the moon right here on Earth,” referring to alternative energy sources

By 2020, wants 20% of America’s electricity to come from renewables

When aircraft carriers were needed during the Cold War–when the leadership saw a defined threat–it led to the development of Boeing and other companies, dreating jobs

We can do the same with environmental development

“Go to Madagascar–see the forest clearing. Go places here.” (I’ll be on the next flight out)

Wants to make the environment a “voting issue”

Energy awareness that began in 1979 under Carter was forgot under Reagan and Bush. (What about Clinton?)

“Fundamental fairness is what this country is built on.”

Worker-CEO salary ratio was 12:1 15 years ago; now 531:1

Called this a “breach of faith in fundamental fairness”

But “not saying this as a matter of class warfare.”

This is a matter of”economic common sense, fairness, trust.”

“The Greatest Generation gave us 50 years of peace and prosperity. It’s on the bestseller list.”

What about our generation?

Will we be remembered as unwilling to do something other than for ourselves?”

“Citizen soldiership”

David McCullock’s “John Adams”

Iwo Jima survivor went to mother of one who fell raising the flag

We must engage in commitment here

RFK’s quote that” we measure everything except those things that make life worth living.” Among thins not measured: education of children, strength of marriages


North Korea a “trumped up” crisis

Engagement all of a sudden

Candidates in Germany and South Korea ran against U.S. policy

University of Michigan affirmative action

“The U.S. should intervene to keep the program”

Not for quotas, putting unqualified people in positions

Make universities look like America (He didn’t say what to do with high-achieving Jews in this meritocracy)

Touts his work in the Middlesex, MA prosecutor’s office

Same-sex marriage and sodomy ban in Nevada

Favors unions, partnerships

Marriage the oldest institution, for procreation–historical and religious reservations

Knows that he served with gays in the military. Favors that with the exception of certain special forces for “unit cohesion” reasons.

I mentioned that he served two years as Lieutenant Governor of MA two decades ago. Now that last four Governors of MA have been Republicsn (two elected). How could this happen in a state like MA?

“Because I left”

“An aberration for our state”

Other cases where you can’t anticipate how politics will pan out

“Ralph Nader helped elect the president we have today.”

Only has one issue difference with the Green platform–approach to trade

Nader’s contention that no difference between Republicans and Dems silly because of Supreme Court appointments and its potential of reversing Roe v. Wade, “the great Civil Rights challenge” of the day

(In other words, no regret that popular Senators like Ted Kennedy and he could not fill the Governor’s seat with a Dem. Dems should not take this lightly; such failure is why Daschle isn’t running.)

Public school education is separate and unequal

Over-reliance on property taxes

90% in public schools. Vouchers not fast enough–schools, facilities.

RE: diplomacy in the Middle East and potential diplomacy partners: “Not Arafat”

Egypt–Mubarak now responsive to homeland security. Sees it’s in his interest now

25 years ago, Egypt was the same as South Korea economically

Now South Korea is the #11 economic power and Egypt is where it was

Kerry is “a gun owner and a hunter who votes common sense”

“You don’t need an AK-47 to shoot a deer”

RE: MA as a liberal home-state handicap: Cites Daniel Webster on the Senate floor debating the Missouri Compromise in 1859–“I come to this floor not as a man from MA, but as an American.”

On immigrants: “Immigrants built this nation every step of the way.”

Needed to contribute to what this country’s going to be in the future

“We’ve got people in jail whose names we don’t know.” (Who’s fault is that?)

On Iraq, wants “the UN to hold Saddam accountable”

We shouldn’t lag behind Japan and France in high-speed rail. We should have one stretching from New York to California. (Sure to work out fine, just like the Big Dig in MA)