Massachusetts Senior Senator, John Forbes Kerry (from Wikimedia Commons)

Massachusetts Senior Senator, John Forbes Kerry (from Wikimedia Commons)

Senator John Kerry hosted a packed and vigorous town hall Saturday February 19, 2011 in Northampton, Massachusetts, home to Smith College. It’s about 20 miles up the Connecticut River from Springfield. The area is so reliably Democratic that national and even statewide candidates frequently give it a miss.

Yet here, on short notice and on Presidents’ Day weekend, was Kerry. He said that he’d come for a dialogue.

Kerry was on fire: clear, cogent, and compelling about how scary the Congressional Republicans are. The science of global warming, and facts in general, seem not to exist for them. It was time, declared Kerry, for Americans to decide what kind of country we want to be.

Could there be a sweeter setup for this question: Do Americans want a country that tortures those innocent until proven guilty? I got to ask it.

Kerry seemed unaware of pretrial torture happening right now in the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia. I mentioned the investigation of the U.N. Rapporteur on Torture into the pretrial solitary confinement there of PFC Bradley Manning. He’s accused of wikileaking the chilling “Collateral Murder” war crime video and some 250,000 internal State Department cables. “Senator McCain says that solitary confinement is torture,” I added. “He should know.”

Kerry responded that he and Senator McCain would get on the matter.  ”Is Monday soon enough for you?” he asked.

Afterwards, I handed a note with blog posts about Manning to a staffer. He turned out to be Andrew O’Brien, Kerry’s State Director. O’Brien emailed this morning — yes, Monday, though it’s a federal holiday — that he’d got on this with Kerry’s folks in Massachusetts and D.C.

If you’d like to weigh in on this:

Senator Kerry – Boston office: 617.565.8519; D.C. office: 202.224.2742.

Senator McCain – Phoenix office: 602.952.2410; D.C. office: 202.224.2236.

Reinforcement is good!