Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Preach It, Brother Sorenson

If you do not receive the hard copy of The Washington Monthly, go to your local library or bookstore and get your hands on the July-August issue right now. Although the hard copy has already been delivered to subscribers, the Editors have not yet posted the new issue on the web site, for which they will suffer the Wrath of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Because that issue features a new speech by JFK speechwriter Ted Sorenson that just may be his best ever - and for the man who composed "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," that's saying quite a bit.

This speech says everything we lost, lonely, desperate Democrats have been dying - some of us literally - to hear for six-and-a-half unspeakable years.

The Democratic Presidential Candidate who gives this speech will, I swear, get a check from me that same day for the legal maximum contribution, and another for the legal maximum next year.

Even if it's Hillary.

The Monthly's editors asked Sorenson to write an acceptance speech for the Democratic Nominee to give at the 2008 convention. In their words:

"We requested that he proceed with no candidate in mind and that he give no consideration to expedience or tactics - in other words that he write the speech of his dreams."

And boy, did he ever.

I am seriously tempted to retype the entire thing right into this post, copyright be damned.

But as a loyal Monthly subscriber for 27 years, and knowing that they've spent their entire 38-year existence teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, I can't do it.

However, I will give you a few highlights - the ones that had me either sobbing or screaming to the Speechwriting Gods "Why Can't I Write Like That?!"

It takes my breath away.


"Nor will I shrink from calling myself a liberal, in the same sense that Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, and Harry Truman were liberals - liberals who proved that government is not a necessary evil, but rather the best means of creating a healthier, more educated, and more prosperous America.

"They are the giants on whose shoulders I know stand, giants who made this a better, fairer, safe, stronger, more united America."


"My chief political consultant will be my conscience."


"Our nation is emerging from eight years of misrule, a dark and difficult period in which our national honor and pride have been bruised and battered. But we are neither beaten nor broken. We are not helpless or afraid - because in this country the people rule, and the people want change."


"We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America's proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace."


"We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons."

"If I am elected president, my vow for this country can be summarized in one short, simple word: change."


"I shall restore the constituional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconsitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11."


"I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines."


"The purpose of public office is to do good, not harm; to change lives, help lives, and save lives, not destroy them. I look upon the presidency not as an opportunity to rule, but as an opportunity to serve."


"Although we may be called fools and dreamers, although we will find the going uphill, in the words of the poet: 'Say not the struggle naught availeth.' We will change our country's direction, and hand to the generation that follows a nation that is safer, cleaner, less divided, and less fearful than the nation we will inherit next January.

"I'm told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: 'Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.' My fellow Americans - here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace."

There's much more here, about withdrawing from Iraq and establishing peace in the Middle East, about universal health care, about economic and racial justice, about restoring the military, about stopping global warming and reconnecting with allies.

It's the perfect synthesis of policy prescription and soaring rhetoric.

Read it and weep.