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February 05, 2004

Will the Real John Kerry Please Stand Up?

During the 1970's when I was growing up, it was all the rage to try and 'find yourself'. Like all fads, that, too passed. But John Kerry seems to be stuck in the 70's; part of the Lost Generation: a man in search of a cause. Kerry is not above cultivating the image. He is adept at talking about ideals: working for peace, taking Washington back from special interests, taking care of the little people. But is there substance behind all the talk?

His flip-flops on the issues are legendary. Although he just hates to bring it up ("Have I mentioned that I'm a Vietnam vet?") he fought in Southeast Asia, then came home and tossed his ribbons (and the medals of two other vets) onto the capital steps in a theatrical fit of pique just made for TV. In 1992, "driven by personal reasons of necessity", he defended Bill Clinton against charges that he was a draft dodger. Kerry argued passionately that military service should be a non-issue in any Presidential race. In a phrase that should have earned him the Oscar for Unintentional Irony by a Future Presidential Candidate, Kerry solemnly intoned, 'I am saddened that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign.'

Those inconvenient principles no longer trouble the Senator from Massachusetts. His campaign is making military service a key issue in the campaign against Bush. Surprisingly for such a principled man, Kerry offered no objection to Terry McAuliffe's weekend charge that Bush was AWOL during Vietnam. Instead, Kerry maintains a patrician detachment, stoically determined to remain above the sordid hardscrabble of plebeian politics:

'I've never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard,' Mr. Kerry said. 'Those are choices people make.'

From atop Mt. Olympus, paltry distinctions between avoiding the draft, going to Canada, going to jail.... serving 6 years in the National Guard with an honorable discharge... these mundane details just fade into insignificance.

As Kerry insists on bringing his military record to the fore, one might as well ask: how much of an asset is it? The Senator portrays himself as a friend to the military, but his voting record on defense spending and his conduct after returning from Vietnam suggest otherwise. With friends like this, who needs enemies? He paints glowing pictures of the old days, camping out on the capitol steps with his Vietnam vet buddies. Somehow, the nights spent sleeping in Georgetown with his socialite friends or the wag who taped a 'Free the Kerry Maid' sign to his chair don't make it into his speeches.

If military service gives Senator Kerry special expertise in times of crisis, how does one explain his transparent claim to have been repeatedly misled on Iraq? He voted against Gulf War I in 1991 (although he prudently sent letters to constituents telling them he supported / opposed the war, depending on how he thought they felt). He approved the resolution authorizing Bush II to use force in Iraq in 2002. Just a few months later, he loudly criticized the President's 'cut-and-run' strategy, then refused to approve funds for the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. This looks like indecision or opportunism, not leadership.

He is currently on a crusade to take the White House back from special interests. Maybe he should be trying to take his campaign back.

On further review, Kerry may have found a single cause he can support with all his heart: the career of John F. Kerry.

- Cassandra

February 5, 2004 at 06:35 PM | Permalink

Comments

Outstanding. Am I to understand that Kerry is a Vietnam Vet?
Great job Cassandra.

Posted by: joatmoaf at Feb 5, 2004 9:04:35 PM

I've heard rumors to that effect, but Kerry's not talking.

Posted by: Cassandra at Feb 5, 2004 10:45:48 PM

Cassandra,

When I wish to express my admiriation of your posts at Scrappleface, I often get the Cheeto-delete because I'm "off topic". But here, YOU ARE THE TOPIC, and I delare you Queen. You are brilliant, funny, write in a commanding way, and I can only wish to be as smart as you when I grow up.

But I'm still not sure about one thing. Do you think I should vote for Kerry for President? BTW, How do you do a barfy face? :@

Posted by: MathMom at Feb 6, 2004 9:48:34 AM

Very compelling. Very well written and documented. Most impressive Cassandra. If I were a teacher, I would give you an A+. If you were a lawyer, I would try to get you on my team.

Posted by: KJ at Feb 6, 2004 4:35:52 PM