Kerry's media bow


Eric Boehlert
November 4, 2004 1:52AM (UTC)

Democrats must be getting tired of earning media raves for their presidential concession speeches. Four years ago Vice President Al Gore, speaking to the nation in the wake of the Supreme Court's controversial decision to stop the ballot counting in Florida, won universal praise for his courageous and gracious speech to the nation, one that pundits suggested revealed a human side often missing from Gore's campaign.

Today, speaking from Faneuil Hall in Boston, Sen. John Kerry also won high marks for his delayed concession, which, some observers noted, like Gore's, flashed some rare emotion. "A lot of similarities: Men who had trouble showing grace, humor, showing it in this farewell speech," noted ABC News' Mark Halperin. His colleague Peter Jennings labeled Kerry's address a "moving speech," while CBS's Dan Rather complimented it as "gracious." Appearing on Fox News, National Review editor Rich Lowry suggested Kerry had set a "high standard of graciousness," and one that President Bush would be wise to match in his remarks today.

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"It was an elegant speech, heartfelt, very patriotic and I think he was just trying to hold back the tears," said historian Douglas Brinkley who has written extensively about Kerry, and was appearing on MSNBC. "He likes to show that New England stoical side which he has. But it is also obviously a very emotional day."

He wasn't the only one struck by the speech's unusual, close-to-the-surface emotion. "On a personal note, this is only one of two times I have really seen John Kerry get emotional," reported CNN's Candy Crowley. "One of them was here today as he was thanking staff. Obviously he was choking up there. The only other time I heard him like that was the day [last month] that Christopher Reeve died, that was also a very tough time. And part of the rap on John Kerry has been you never knew where his soul was, he was such a politician, that you never could get to him, and I'm struck by the fact, suddenly when they have to stop being anything for anybody, you get to see a little bit of who they are. And I think we saw that emotional side of John Kerry that [his aides] have been trying so hard to put out there. The one that said, 'I wish to all my supporters out there, I could put my arms around you.' That's such an un-Kerryesque statement, I can't tell you."

Speaking for many, no doubt, CNN's Jeff Greenfield noted, "There are any number of Democrats out there [saying], 'Every time people talk about the graceful concession speech and about how we didn't get a human side of him. Just once I'd like to see them [show] the human side during a campaign so we could hear a graceful victory speech.'"


Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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