Life of the Party

For the first time since the 2004 presidential election, Senator John Kerry resurfaced on national television, making an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Tim Russert. For the 59 million Americans who supported his candidacy, it has been a long wait. Senator Kerry seemed to demonstrate continued presidential ambitions, and he appears to be paving the path to run again in 2008. When he appeared on Mr. Russert’s program, Senator Kerry assumed the role of party spokesperson. However, the senator still demonstrated the trademark lack of approachability that some say lost him the election. On the program, he was the always cordial and articulate statesmen, but John Kerry the ordinary American was still missing. Although I usually laud Mr. Russert’s judgment in selecting questions to ask his guests, I thought his questions were on surprisingly unimportant topics, such as Senator Kerry’s “secret mission to Cambodia” and a question about what he was ‘thinking’ on inauguration day. With that said, Senator Kerry still had the opportunity to address vital international and domestic issues, as well as the Democratic Party’s future. Mr. Russert began the program by asking Senator Kerry if the Iraqi elections went better than expected. Senator Kerry’s did not think so, refusing to acknowledge that the elections indeed were an important accomplishment. While it is true that the Iraq war was executed without careful thought -our military was ignorant of the possibility of a post-war insurgency and the justification changed from WMDs and an unambiguous threat to American security to removing Saddam Hussein and “freeing” the Iraqi people – Democrats need now to take a more proactive approach to the issue. On Iraqi Election Day, I felt energized for the Iraqi people. The Democrats rightly recognized the mistakes of the war. But now they should pose an optimistic vision for the future of Iraq. As one Iraqi man said of the elections, “It was a good day in Baghdad.” The fact is the Iraqi people were empowered with a new sense of liberty and freedom, something all Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, should realize. Senator Kerry did make a very important point regarding our next steps in Iraq. The senator said that this is President Bush’s final opportunity “to do this right.” And Senator Kerry is right; the President is obliged to reach out to the international community in this new phase of the war. The success or failure of the Iraq war and the strategy of democratizing the Middle East will define President Bush’s legacy. Democrats, in spite of their opposition to his policies, should work hard to not tarnish it. In the next four years, Democrats should stand for more than Bush bashing. We need not change the fundamental principles of the Democratic Party which FDR and JFK championed. The first and foremost priority is upholding our values.