Kerry Sweating to the Oldies

By Jeff Crouere

In his workout videos, fitness guru Richard Simmons popularized the phrase “Sweating to the Oldies.” In his gaudy exercise costumes, Simmons would try to transform fat people into shapely athletes through an exhausting regimen of dance routines. Like Richard Simmons, but minus the tacky exercise outfit, Senator John Kerry was sweating to the oldies last week at the Democratic National Convention. 

The Democratic Party presidential nominee profusely sweated through a 50-minute speech to the nation as he tried to transform his weak on defense record into the credentials of a super hawk. In his acceptance speech, Kerry focused on national security and anti-terrorism issues, harking back to the good old days when the Democratic Party was very pro-military and steadfast in supporting our country’s defense. However, it is impossible for any objective analyst to honestly compare John Kerry to strong on defense Democrats of yesteryear like President Harry Truman, President John Kennedy or Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. The pro-military, hawkish wing of the Democratic Party is now very small and certainly does not include John Kerry, the most liberal member of the United States Senate, according to the respected National Journal. 

With his liberal voting record, it is odd that Kerry and the Democrats decided to challenge President Bush on his strongest issues—war on terror and military spending. By making this unusual move, Kerry made a major error by not highlighting the core economic issues that are a hallmark of the Democratic Party. In his speech, Kerry did not spend enough time discussing rising costs in health care and education. He also did not outline enough of a vision on how Democrats can help middle class families that are struggling economically. Polls show that most voters continue to be worried about their family finances and list the economy as the most important issue, despite the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Such voters must have been disappointed with the content of Kerry's speech.  

At the Democratic National Convention, the best speakers were former President Bill Clinton, keynote speaker Barack Obama, Reverend Al Sharpton and Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards. So, Kerry did not even make the list of top speakers at his own convention, an embarrassment for a nominee that needed to shine.

The night before Kerry accepted the nomination, Senator John Edwards did a much better job of hitting on key economic issues, which are such a concern to millions of American voters.  Edwards delivered a smooth and successful speech; however, his running mate seemed uncomfortable and nervous. 

Throughout the speech, Kerry was not only copiously sweating, but also waving his hands in an irritating manner. He never seemed relaxed at the podium. During the speech, Kerry did not even allow the applause to build and actually kept speaking over his applause lines, a rookie mistake that a seasoned politician should have never made. Kerry was obviously instructed to quicken the pace of his speech because at times he seemed hurried. Unfortunately because of his desire to finish in prime time, Kerry’s speech was too rushed and did not generate the drama or impact that he intended.

Regardless of the reasons, Kerry was not able to boost his poll numbers and the dead heat that existed before the convention still exists today.  Since 1972, every Democratic Party nominee has received a major bounce of at least several points or more in the polls after a convention. So, Kerry’s performance is a major disappointment, and now, the Democratic Party has a nominee who is still struggling to find his political voice and define his campaign. 

Overall, the speech was a failure and not the home run that Kerry desperately wanted.  He can still recover in the upcoming presidential debates or hope that Bush stumbles in the weeks ahead. But, Kerry missed an opportunity to put plenty of distance between himself and President Bush. Now, the focus turns to President Bush and the Republican convention, which will be held in a few weeks in New York.  The Republicans will obviously try to learn from John Kerry’s mistakes last week and get a bounce for President Bush in the polls. In that regard, it would be wise for the GOP not to invite Richard Simmons to make an encore performance. .  

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and his Louisiana based program, Ringside Politics, airs from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays on WTIX 690 AM radio and at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 10:30 p.m. Sunday on WLAE-TV Channel 32. His Web site is at E-mail him at

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