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Barack Obama ('04-'08)

Kerry: I’m Mad as Hell & Not Taking It Anymore.

To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say let’s compare Senator McCain to Candidate McCain. Candidate McCain now supports the very wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once called irresponsible. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding me, folks? Talk about being for it before you’re against it!

In the second of three solid orations tonight, an impassioned John Kerry laid into John McCain hard, and delivered arguably a better speech than anything he ever gave as our 2004 nominee. [Transcript.] Thanks to the Swift Boat ridiculousness of that cycle, Kerry has now taken on some of the resonance that Max Cleland had back then — that of the good patriot horribly wronged by the sheer scumminess of the Rove-wallowing GOP. Well, Kerry tapped into this costly gravitas with aplomb in tonight’s speech, using it to insist that we not let McCain and his new friends screw the nation over once again. (“How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother, who chose community service over money and privilege, that he doesn’t put America first. No one can question Barack Obama’s patriotism.“)

The anger of Kerry’s own experience seethed just below the surface in his remarks, and it lent his speech a fiery passion that seemed as AWOL as cokehead-Dubya during crucial stretches in 2004. (Not that the election should’ve come down to a question of passion anyway, but frankly every little bit would’ve helped.) In a perfect world, Kerry wouldn’t have to play the martyr right now, of course. But this isn’t a perfect world. As it is, it’s hard to think of anyone who could better remind us in 2008 that the GOP are all too often an adversary without any semblance of honor or dignity, and we’ll be damned before we let those bastards get away with their pathetic lies and hateful smears once again. Not this time.

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