Arcuri's announcement speech, available on his campaign web site, is an extension and refinement of the speech he has been giving around the district while visiting local Democratic groups. In particular, there's a new, stirring ending in which Arcuri announces that now is the time for action, not neutrality:
"When I was young, I would often ask my Father for advice on one thing or another, and he used to love to quote a passage from Dante’s Inferno to me. That quote is: 'The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.'
This is not the time to be neutral. This is the time to be bold. This is the time to be passionate. This is the time for change. This is a time for us to make a difference."
Now, that's the kind of fire in the belly I've been waiting to see in one of our candidates for quite some time now. The funny thing about Arcuri's announcement speech, though, is that for every fire it kindles, it's got a sprinkler all set to give us a cold shower if things get too hot.
Consider another passage, spoken just a minute or two before the ending where Arcuri reminds us of the importance of not being neutral in times of moral crisis:
"The 24th Congressional District is a moderate district. That’s why Congressman Boehlert was effective for so long… because he tried to be a moderate. The problem is he can no longer be an effective moderate in his own party… because his party leadership has forsaken traditional American values."
It's going to be interesting trying to figure out this Michael Arcuri fellow. One minute he's Paul Wellstone, and the next minute, he's Joseph Lieberman. He's a moderate who says he won't run a partisan campaign, but he also tells us that this is no time to be neutral.
If Arcuri isn't going to be neutral, then he's going to be a partisan. If Arcuri isn't going to be a partisan, then he can be neutral, but what can he possibly stand for?
Arcuri referred to his accumulated political wisdom today by saying, "I learned to NOT run partisan political campaigns but, rather, campaigns that speak to issues of concern to all voters."
I've got some hard news for Mr. Arcuri. The issues that are of the most importance to the people of the 24th district are issues that the people of the 24th district do NOT agree about. The only "issues of concern" that appeal to all voters are pieces of genuine consensus that don't get to the heart of the matter.
We all want more jobs and a better economy for the 24th District. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want good schools. The issue we fight about is HOW to get them. We all want fiscal responsibility. The issue we fight about is WHERE to cut the budget and HOW to increase government revenues.
We fight about these details not because we're nasty people who like to fight. We fight about these issues because they're important. They're important enough that they must not be ignored by our candidates.
That doesn't go just for Michael Arcuri. It goes for Les Roberts too, who has let placeholder messages like "Please check back soon..." stand on his campaign web site for the last two months. It also goes for Bruce Tytler, who doesn't even have a web page.
Votes are not earned through back-room meetings with party insiders. They're not earned through television advertisements. They're earned with straight talk that lets voters know where candidates really stand on the important issues that divide us.
Enough silence. Enough ambiguity. Enough promises about plans that will come out later. Enough with trying to talk an argument both ways.
We voters aren't stupid. We know when we're being talked down to, and if we don't get the respect of some direct talk about the difficult issues of the day, most of us will stay home.
I'm not saying that because I want it to be true. I'm saying it because it is true. Michael Arcuri was right when he said that this is the time to be bold, the time to be passionate, the time for change. But, that change has to take place in the way a campaign is run as well as in the pretty words that candidates make in speeches.
Candidates: Be bold, be passionate, and be on the level. Fight like hell for our votes -- and don't pull any punches.