In the Arena

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About the Bush family’s toxic gift to presidential politics–ugly August.

And while we’re at it, I disagree with my colleague Mark Halperin’s assessment of John Kerry’s speech last night: Kerry–the ultimate ugly August victim–said things that absolutely needed to be said about the degrading Atwater-Rove style of presidential politics. He was passionate, funny, liberated from the straitjacket he accepted from his handlers in 2004. It clearly was an attempt to redeem himself with the party he had so severely disappointed, and it was a smashing success.

It was the best speech John Kerry has given since his testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a young Naval officer, just returned from Vietnam in 1971. It was, in fact, the best speech of his career. I’ve known John Kerry for 35 years. I was pretty harsh on him during the 2004 campaign, and in my book Politics Lost, because he pulled his punches–especially on the Iraq war and the Bush torture policy–and it is gratifying to see that he has relocated his powerful voice.