Professor Kennedy Teaches Plain Talk 101

01/10/2007 01:51 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One advantage the Republicans have is that everything is black and white to them, or at least they often can effectively express their thoughts clearly, if wrongheadedly.

Senator Edward Kennedy showed today that it is possible to express Democratic thoughts with equal clarity if you know what you believe and are willing to say it. Other Democratic politicians, Joe Biden and John Kerry come to mind immediately, should go to school on this. They should sit and watch the whole thing. The tape is only 12 minutes: about the length of an average Biden question in a committee hearing. (You can read it here.)

The most inspirational political address I ever saw was Kennedy's speech to the 1980 Democratic Convention in Madison Square Garden. You could almost imagine the delegates, mostly pledged to Carter, coming to their senses. It was about domestic issues, principally economic, but it showed the same clarity of thought and expression that is so lacking when we hear Democrats speak today. Then, as now, Kennedy was calling for firm and fearless action. He concludes both with quotes from the same Tennyson poem, which I gather he saves for big moments, concluding "[t]o strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Today's speech made me think of what might have been, had he been able to tell Roger Mudd why he wanted to be President.

The Democrats should join Kennedy and do everything possible to stop the war in Iraq. It is ridiculous to act as if this bufoon of a President and his delusional henchmen can somehow figure out a way to "win", and it is criminally cynical to stand back and let them fail at a continued price in American lives, international standing and ability to fight terror. At this distance, no one can figure out a winning strategy for 2008, so they might as well attend properly to the business at hand.