By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2004, 10:24pm PT  

I actually didn't plan on watching much of this convention at all! It's the RNC Convention where the fun begins!

But tonight turned out to be a surprise. I was first alerted that Al Gore was being rather funny (claiming he doesn't "lie awake at night counting...and recounting sheep") and pretty sharp ("Wouldn't we be safer with a president who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq?").

So I got sucked in. And as bored as I planned on being, I ended up rather impressed. From Gore to both Clintons (though Hillary was a bit shrill for my taste...if I wanted my ears to bleed I'd listen to Eleanor Clift on the McClaughlin Group each week...oh, wait, I do.)

Anyway, the most endearing --- and ironically, the toughest speaker of the night --- was the 80 year old Jimmy Carter! Who kicked it!

Notable quotes from his speech which is worth the full read! (it's short and sweet):

I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.

We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.

We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.
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I am confident that next January, [John Kerry] will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking.
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Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.
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[I]n just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all [the] good will [after 9/11] has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.

Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
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What a difference these few months of extremism have made.

The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.
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We cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic...we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country...we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.

And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls.
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Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.

At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.

You go, boy! It was a humdinger! So much for the idea that ex-Presidents are supposed to shut the hell up! Now that's what a great American looks like boys and girls.