Here in Hong Kong, I huddled with a bunch of Time magazine staffers around a small TV in an editor's office to watch Kerry's acceptance speech. The general consensus was that it was a strong challenge to the foundations of Bush's campaign. His questioning of Bush's "family values" was extremely smart and his stance on faith, using Lincoln's quote about praying humbly that "we are on God's side" was brilliant. But, that being said, there were moments that struck us as less than smooth. First off, what was the deal with his hands? I haven't seen such forced, self-conscious gesturing since my junior high public speaking class.
Next, I realize his military experience is the cornerstone of his constructed image but the speech made JibJab's animated "This Land" look very prophetic. (That thing is genius: www.jibjab.com) And lastly, the entire office broke out in laughter when Kerry said, "if you give the American worker a fair playing field, there's nobody in the world the American worker can't compete against." Perhaps that sounded particularly false in China, but I'm not sure how he plans on leveling the playing field when there are such obvious advantages to the cheap labor and manufacturing costs that the mainland, and the rest of Southeast Asia, offers. America needs to recongize that the wealthiest country in the world is not always the best place to make clothes or cars or much of anything. From a candidate that the international community wants to embrace, that sort of naive patriotism reeks of Bush-like ignorance. Folks here are scared that Kerry may be trying to dumb himself down before the debates so that his highbrow intellectualism doesn't scare folks (a la Gore).Posted by Jeff Plunkett at July 29, 2004 10:44 PM