He released the outrage at the overextension of the American military, its people, and their families. "We will end the backdoor draft of the National Guard and reservists," he said.
He released the outrage at the hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending in Iraq. "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America," he said.
He released the outrage at the president's attempt to end local disputes about marriage by amending the Constitution. "Let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States," said Kerry.
He released the outrage at the partisan use of God's name. "I don't want to claim that God is on our side," said Kerry. "As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."
Kerry's Vietnam biography was central to the speech not as a sword but as a shield. It entitled him—and through him, every critic of Bush's foreign policy who has felt too intimidated to speak out—to repudiate the administration. "That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head," said Kerry. "It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men that I served with and friends I grew up with. … That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology. It doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people."
At one point, Kerry acknowledged the Democratic presidential rivals whose pet issues and messages he had appropriated. "Thank you for teaching and testing me," he said. But those issues weren't created by the Democrats. They were created by Bush. From deficits to deregulation to Iraq, Bush has handed the Democrats all the issues they need.
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