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Biden Gets It
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Mmmm...Kerry, not so much.

Here's an excellent article contrasting the speeches Joe Biden and John Kerry gave on the same day at the Democratic National Convention.

On Thursday night at about eight o'clock--long before the networks began their broadcasts--Biden laid out the most compelling Democratic foreign policy vision I have yet heard. I just wish more of it had found its way into John Kerry's acceptance speech two hours later.

Biden started by correctly naming America's enemy. Unlike Kerry, who mentioned "terrorists," "antiterrorist operations," and "a global war on terror," Biden never mentioned the "T" word. Instead, he spoke of the "death struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism." The difference is more than semantic. Terrorism, as commentators have pointed out, is a tactic. Sri Lankan suicide bombers who blow themselves up in the name of Tamil independence are terrorists--but we are not at war with them. If militants in Iraq shoot only at American soldiers and not at civilians, they are not technically terrorists--but they are our enemies nonetheless. Radical Islam is an ideology, and calling it the enemy implies that America is fighting a war not just of national interest, but of ideas. "Radical fundamentalism," Biden said, "will fall to the terrible, swift power of our ideas as well as our swords."

Yes. That's the rhetoric that's missing from Kerry's speeches and interviews. Kerry talks about bringing troops home, when much of the criticism is about how there aren't enough troops in Iraq now. And:

He also said this: "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America." The implication is that, by rebuilding Iraq, we are robbing the United States; if only we did less overseas, we can have more at home. The firehouse line further suggests the ideological and moral narrowness of the war Kerry intends to fight. After all, if the United States can't afford to fund firehouses in Baghdad, it also can't afford to fund textbooks in Pakistan or Egypt so students there aren't brainwashed in madrassas. Nowhere in Kerry's speech did he say that building security at home means building liberalism abroad--which will require more money and more sacrifice, not less.

Beinart hits the nail on the head. This is what frustrates me more than anything about the Left's attitude toward the fight against radical Islamists. Many fight tooth and nail for liberal values here at home...they'll spit fire when advocating abortions and gay marriage. But try and argue for basic human rights in the Middle East and it's "imposing our views on others" or "forcing our way of life down their throats at gunpoint". It's the difference between blaming 9/11 on an ugly strain of backwards religious thuggery and blaming it on ourselves.

Beinart isn't the only one who picked up on the "firehouse" line from Kerry's speech. Christopher Hitchens lit into Kerry on that line as well:

The worst thing about John Kerry's parochial line on the firehouses was the applause it got, with cameras even focusing on firefighter union jackets adorned with Kerry-Edwards buttons. The great thing about firefighters is usually their solidarity: They will send impressive delegations to the funerals of their fellows not just in other cities but in other countries, too. Solidarity and internationalism, indeed, used to be the cement of the democratic Left. So, do we understand the nominee correctly? Is he telling us that Iraqi firefighters are parasites sucking on the American tit, and that they don't deserve the supportive brotherhood that used to be the proudest signature of the labor movement?

It seems to me a very liberal ideal that the welfare of those in other countries is intricately tied to our own, especially as the world grows smaller. Kerry doesn't seem to get this...thankfully, at least someone in the Democratic party does, though I fear Biden's in the minority there.

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