Sen. John Kerry breezed through Seattle again this week. After being so rudely ejected from the auditorium during his last campaign stop, I was delighted to have a second chance to hear the decorated Vietnam Veteran speak.
Most folks don't appreciate John Kerry's wonderful ability to reach across all political spectrums and appeal to a wide variety of people. They ignorantly accuse him of "flip-flopping", as if he were some fickle, limp-wristed, New England pansy who can't even decide whether he should pee standing up or sitting down. But it's his ability to circumnavigate a problem, hold it up to the light of reason, consult Ted Kennedy, consult the French, consult Teresa, and THEN provide a vague non-answer that I consider one of his greatest political strengths.
I was also pleasantly surprised by his new sound system - a clever invention designed to accentuate his speaking style and spread his message evenly to all audience members. Whereas most politicians attempt to convey one simple, cohesive message into a single microphone, Kerry actually uses TWO separate mics so he can appeal to a wider range of voters. One mic is reserved for more progressive statements, while the other is used to woo backwards, right-of-center listeners. This revolutionary new way of campaigning allows Kerry to speak at length on any issue and always satisfy at least 50% of the crowd.
So I watched in awe as the tall, lean, senator from Massachusetts paraded back and forth across the stage, from microphone to microphone, working the crowd like a TV preacher.
"Teddy Roosevelt said America should walk softly and carry a big stick," Kerry spoke in a deep monotone. "Time and again, this administration has violated the fundamental tenet of Roosevelt's approach."
Kerry strolled across the stage to the other microphone.
"Terrorists, make no mistake. I will use every available resource to destroy you."
A mixture of boos and applause rose from the audience. Kerry walked back to the first mic.
"They looked to force before exhausting diplomacy," he said of Bush's goofy War on Terror. "They bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone when they should have assembled a whole team. They have hoped for the best when they should have prepared for the worst."
Half the audience cheered wildly, while the rest laughed and called him a "hand-wringing Nancy". Kerry marched over to the second microphone again.
"But as commander in chief," Kerry continued, hitching up his pants. "I will respond to terrorism with overwhelming and devastating force."
While the right-wingers clapped their hands with approval, the boos from the progressive members of the audience grew louder. Several people made their way towards the exits. Kerry quickly grabbed the other microphone.
"But not all problems should be viewed through a military lens," he explained, and people slowly filed back to their seats. "In this new world, beyond military power, we need to employ a layered strategy - a strategy that invokes our nonmilitary strength early enough and effectively enough so military force does not become our only option."
I nodded with satisfaction. I'm not exactly sure what our "nonmilitary strength" is, but I hope it has something to do with macrame plant hangers.
"As president, on my first day in office," Kerry went on, "I will send the message to every man and woman in our armed forces, this commander in chief will ensure that you are the best led, best equipped fighting force in the world, and you will be armed with the right weapons, schooled in the right skills and fully prepared to win on the battlefield."
A wave of laughter filled the hall. Some old geezer in a silly American Legion hat shouted, "But you voted for the $87 Million before you voted against it!"
Kerry glared at him. "Shut the f**k up, you filthy, Republican trailer trash," he growled. "I was in Vietnam!"
Angry booes and hisses filled the auditorium. The lanky statesman was pelted with garbage and flip-flops.
"Oops!" Kerry said with a sheepish grin, and jogged over to the opposite mic.
"Shut the f**k up, you filthy, Republican trailer trash," he repeated to a standing ovation. "I was in Vietnam!"
I was feeling a little dizzy at this point, so I decided to skip the traditional flaunting of Max Cleland's severed limbs and catch the bus home.
* * *
Tonight on Joan of Arcadia:
God (Gary Busey) orders Joan to stop fidgeting like a virgin on prom night and get her ass into the goddamn truck.