The evening was divided into two segments, the bestowing of the award and question/answer period with Tom Oliphant.
Greetings were extended by former DNC chair Paul Kirk, followed by laudatory remarks via telephone by scheduled guest Ted Kennedy, who left Boston early due to the winter's 5th blizzard for DC in order to be Tuesday morning floor manager for S.218 (bankruptcy). Kennedy waxed about his years of friendship with the Kerry, beginning when he sought out the Massachusetts contingent Winter Soldiers who were camped on the DC mall.
Kerry joked that when Boston is hit by five blizzards over one winter, they Dems will sweep the next election. He returned the reminiscence and lauded Kennedy for being his mentor and friend in the Senate for 21 years.
The second part of the evening was the interview by Thomas Oliphant, asking questions from the audience as well as his own.
A couple of the better quotes:
"There is nothing in the presidents budget that is either truthful or makes sense. Nothing. The war is not included in the President's budget, the social security fix is not included in the President's budget..."
"The question today is how we are going to put on the table the real choices for the American people and achieve accountability in American politics..."
Kerry pledged to be an activist and advocate for traditional Democratic values.
Kerry faulted Bush for not working with foreign heads of state towards a solution in Iraq. Specifically, he stated that during a conversation with President Mubarik, he learned that Egypt was willing to train hundreds/thousands more police/soliders, but had not been asked by *.
Kerry used the most politically incorrect language in describing Bush’s tenure and policies. Language like “failure” and “the first action of the second term was a conciliatory trip to Europe to mend damage done” (I’m paraphrasing).
Kerry cut into the main stream media, somewhat. He tied today’s situation to corporate control. Whenever he went a bit deep, he brought himself to even keel (“on the whole, I think the main stream media tried to present a fair assessment of both sides of the campaign"), but at one point declared there was an insidious underlying element that was responsible for maintaining a level of fear and distraction. Blamed unfair media reporting on the demise of the Fairness in Broadcasting Act, but did not say he would work to restoring it.
On the 2004 campaign, he said the Dems were at a disadvantage, having just a few months versus Rove’s 6+ years. Related, towards 2008, he said that the Dems need to continue the grassroots efforts started by his campaign, but needed to focus on the 2006 midterms.
I heard no real revelations during the rest of the Q&A period. My question about details of the recent suits filed in Ohio (see FYI) was not read.
On exiting, I had a chance to speak with Paul Kirk. Told him the difficulty I was having connecting my town committee with the state and national committee. He advised not to wait for top-down leadership, rather to act locally, to make the town committee a model of grassroots activism, and the state would come knocking.
A moving night, wish you all could have been there.