Saturday, July 31, 2004

Convention Highlights

Stuff I didn't get to during the week.

General Wesley Clark:

War. I've been there. Heard the thump of enemy mortars. Seen the tracers fly. Bled on the battlefield. Recovered in hospitals. Received and obeyed orders. Sent men and women into battle. Awarded medals, comforted families, attended funerals. And this soldier has news for you: Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said it best: "Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth."

This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag -- our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us.

The safety of our country demands urgent and innovative measures to strengthen our armed forces. The safety of our country demands credible intelligence. The safety of our country demands cooperation with our allies. The safety of our country demands making more friends and fewer enemies. The safety of our country demands an end to the doctrinaire, ineffective policies that currently grip Washington.

Enough is enough! A safe America -- a just America -- that's what we want, and that's what we need. And with John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what we will achieve.

Al Sharpton:

The promise of America is that every citizen’s vote is counted and protected, and election schemes do not decide elections.

I often hear the Republican party preach about family values, but I can tell them something about family values. Family values don’t just exist for those with two-car garages and retirement plans. Family values exist in homes with only one parent in the household making a way against the odds.

I stand here tonight, the product of a single parent home, from the depths of Brooklyn, New York. My mother was a domestic worker who scrubbed floors in other people’s homes for me. And because she scrubbed those floors, I was proud to stand as a presidential candidate.

Those are family values.

I recall that a few days after the September 11 terrorist attacks I was in a radio station that played “America the Beautiful,” as sung by Ray Charles.

As you know, we lost Ray several weeks ago, but I can still hear him singing: “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plain.”

We must leave here committed to making Ray Charles’ song a reality and to making America beautiful for everyone.

Good night, God bless you all, and God bless America!

Ron Reagan:

It is a hallmark of human intelligence that we are able to make distinctions. Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beings—that potential is where their magic lies. But they are not, in and of themselves, human beings. They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain. Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing person—a parent, a spouse, a child.

I know a child—well, she must be 13 now—I’d better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. And she has juvenile diabetes.

Like so many kids with this disease, she has adjusted amazingly well. The insulin pump she wears—she’s decorated hers with rhinestones. She can insert her own catheter needle. She has learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning. She’s very brave. She is also quite bright and understands full well the progress of her disease and what that might ultimately mean: blindness, amputation, diabetic coma. Every day, she fights to have a future.

What excuse will we offer this young woman should we fail her now? What might we tell her children? Or the millions of others who suffer? That when given an opportunity to help, we turned away? That facing political opposition, we lost our nerve? That even though we knew better, we did nothing?

And, should we fail, how will we feel if, a few years from now, a more enlightened generation should fulfill the promise of embryonic stem cell therapy? Imagine what they would say of us who lacked the will.

No, we owe this young woman and all those who suffer—we owe ourselves—better than that. We are better than that. A wiser people, a finer nation. And for all of us in this fight, let me say: we will prevail.

The tide of history is with us. Like all generations who have come before ours, we are motivated by a thirst for knowledge and compelled to see others in need as fellow angels on an often difficult path, deserving of our compassion.

In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that. We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. This is our moment, and we must not falter.