By Steven Tavares
|Sen. John Kerry|
“President Obama was within—way within—his legitimate authority as commander in chief,” Kerry said at the Commonwealth Club of California. “What would you say if we allowed innocent people to be slaughtered,” asked Kerry, who also urged the government to embrace the various pro-democracy movements springing up across the region. “The Arab awakening is something we have been waiting for 50-60 years,” Kerry said. “It’s something even al Qaeda couldn’t do.”
Some members of the Democratic Party, including the East Bay’s Rep. Barbara Lee have been vocal critics of the president’s decision to allow U.S. warplanes to bombs strategic targets in Libya, while giving miltary cover to rebels seeking the removal of Col. Moammar Khadafy.
While foreign policy questions were featured during a question and answer period with the senator, most of Kerry’s remarks centered on critical comments made towards Republicans in Washington. Kerry, on numerous ocassions, lambasted members of the GOP for proposing critical cuts to the federal budget and possibly a goverment shut down.
“The outside ideologues are threatening to shut down the government if we don’t give them a government of the one-percent, by the one-percent and for the one-percent,” he said.
“Having arrived in an extraordinary moment in our history when a small group of people driven by rigid ideology rather than common sense or reason are threatening to shut down the federal government if they don’t get their way.”
The former Democratic presidential nominee, in the Bay Area for a fundraising tour, also met Friday morning with a group of Silicon Valley leaders, slammed Republicans leaders for the “seductive simplicity of their rants about the very deficit which their policies built up over eight years” and attempts to curtail funding for science and technological research development along. Cuts to social services such as Head Start and Planned Parenthood and preventive medicine also illcited Kerry's ire.
He called a proposed $5.7 billion cut by Republicans for Pell Grant funding “immoral” saying, “There’s a really brilliant idea. Give the richest people in the world a tax break without any guarantee they invest one dime of it in the United States of America and pay for that transfer of wealth from the average American to the wealthiest and pay for it by taking away money from needy students,” and later added, “Please tell me how it makes any sense to make it harder for kids to go to college.”
While placing blame on lawmakers riding a wave of Tea Party support, Kerry said those same people came to Washington pledging to create jobs, but have consistently supported legislation that stifles growth. “Our problem is not just deficit of debt,” said Kerry, “it is a deficit of serious thought, a deficit of political courage and it’s a deficit of intellectual honesty.”
Kerry used the imagery of the Golden Gate Bridge to urge for a greater focus on infrastructure during times of economical peril, noting the iconic public works project was constructed during the height of the Great Depression. He also lauded San Franciscans for their political acumen while teasing its West Coast rival, Los Angeles. “I know when I talk to you about infrastructure you’ll know I’m talking about building roads and bridges,” said Kerry. “If I was in Los Angeles, they would think I’m talking about plastic surgery.”