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  • Good article on Kerry's lack of political courage

    Kerry's lack of political courage
    Jeff Jacoby (back to web version) | Send


    March 1, 2004


    So far in this campaign Mr. Kerry has shown little interest in being daring, expressing a thought that is unexpected or quirky on even minor issues. We wish we could see a little of the political courage of the Vietnam hero who came back to lead the fight against the war.
    -- The New York Times, Feb. 26, 2004

    And that, believe it or not, is from the Times's endorsement of John Kerry in Tuesday's presidential primary. The editorial's wistful words get to the heart of the character issue that troubles so many of those who have looked closely at Kerry's career in public life. The Democratic frontrunner is increasingly being described as a "flip-flopper" or a "waffler" or "two-faced." But the real problem with Kerry is something more fundamental. As the Times rightly notes, he lacks political courage.

    Perhaps that is why he and his campaign talk about it so much.

    The search engine on Kerry's campaign website lists some 200 pages on which "courage" appears. When he formally announced his candidacy at Boston's Faneuil Hall last September, he uttered the words "courage" or "courageous" 19 times ("courageous Americans always rise to the occasion . . . the courage of our people to change what is wrong . . . it was courage that was talked about in this hall . . . we must have the courage to stand up . . . the courage of Americans can change this country"). The sign behind him read: "The courage to do what's right for America." And when he took his announcement speech on the road, the trip was billed as the "American Courage Tour."

    No one doubts Kerry's physical courage. He is a Vietnam veteran, with a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts that attest to his battlefield bravery. But courage in combat doesn't necessarily translate into courage on the Senate floor or the campaign trail. And that kind of courage -- the courage of a leader who knows his own mind and speaks it fearlessly, who doesn't trim with every shifting breeze, who doesn't court unpopularity but isn't afraid of it, either -- has never been a hallmark of Kerry's career.

    Every few days, we seem to get a fresh example (or a resurrected old one) of Kerry brazenly revising his history, or declaring "flip" from one side of his mouth while asserting "flop" out of the other.

    Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that Kerry strongly defended Israel's controversial security fence as "a legitimate act of self defense," since "no nation can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors and on buses." He said "the fence only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel," and insisted that the International Court of Justice in the Hague has no authority to pass judgment on it.

    Yet just a few months ago, Kerry gave every indication of being firmly against it.

    "We don't need another barrier to peace," he told the Arab American Institute in October. "Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder."

    This may be the first time that a politician has literally come down on both sides of the fence. It can't be a comfortable position. But it's the one in which Kerry can all too often be found.

    It is not news that candidates, hungry for popularity, occasionally try to be all things to all people. The problem with Kerry isn't that he engages in shifty equivocation and revisionism once in a while. It is that he has done so over and over and over. Like the first JFK, Kerry served with distinction as a Navy lieutenant in wartime. But never in his public career has he been what John F. Kennedy called a "profile in courage."

    In 1992, Kerry insisted that Bill Clinton's draft avoidance during the Vietnam War must not be made a political issue. "We do not need to divide America over who served and how," he said. In 2004, not only doesn't he silence Democrats who disparage George W. Bush's military record, he goes out of his way to play the Vietnam card. "I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," Kerry said last week. Profile in courage?

    As he campaigns for president, Kerry says he has "a message for the influence peddlers . . . and all the special interests who now call the White House home: We're coming. You're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out." Yet over the past 15 years, reports The Washington Post, this enemy of "influence peddlers" has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other member of the US Senate. Profile in courage?

    Under fire in Vietnam, Kerry was fearless and steadfast. But rarely if ever has he shown comparable bravery on the political battlefields at home. It is difficult to think of any instance in which he has taken a tough stand and stuck with it despite the clear political risk in doing so. Instead, time and time again, he has tried to have it both ways -- from the medals he threw away/didn't throw away to the wars in Iraq he supported/didn't support. At the age of 25, John Kerry's courage was indisputable. Now, at age 60, it is more or less undetectable.
    Asked what he would do differently in Iraq, Kerry said, "Right now, what I would do differently is, I mean, look, I'm not the president, and I didn't create this mess so I don't want to acknowledge a mistake that I haven't made."

  • #2
    Originally posted by BurnKU@Mar 1 2004, 06:01 PM
    As he campaigns for president, Kerry says he has "a message for the influence peddlers . . . and all the special interests who now call the White House home: We're coming. You're going. And don't let the door hit you on the way out." Yet over the past 15 years, reports The Washington Post, this enemy of "influence peddlers" has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other member of the US Senate. Profile in courage?
    More false Republican propaganda. It's not a "flip-flop" to work within the system you're stuck with while at the same time trying to change the system. Besides, Bush took more "special intrest" money in one year than Kerry has in his entire career.

    http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i...315&c=3&s=corn
    The following year (1997), a re-elected Kerry was in another lonely position as one of only five original sponsors of the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act, to provide for full public financing of Congressional elections. The measure would remove practically all special-interest money from House and Senate campaigns. (Kerry's colleagues were Wellstone, Leahy, John Glenn and Joe Biden--all Democrats.) "Kerry was totally into it," says Ellen Miller, former executive director of Public Campaign, a reform group pressing for the legislation. "He believes in this stuff."

    In introducing the legislation, Kerry said on the Senate floor, "Special interest money is moving and dictating and governing the agenda of American politics.... If we want to regain the respect and confidence of the American people, and if we want to reconnect to them and reconnect them to our democracy, we have to get the special interest money out of politics." He was also a backer of the better-known McCain-Feingold legislation, a more modest and (some might say) problematic approach to campaign reform. But over the years he's pointed to the Clean Money, Clean Elections Act as the real reform. "It is a tough position in Congress to be for dramatic change in financing elections," says Miller. "It's gutsy to go out and say, 'Let's provide a financially leveled playing field so there is more competition for incumbents.' Kerry and Wellstone were the leaders and took a giant step. It was remarkable."
    2005 Mandatory Loyalty Oath: I love America, our troops, baseball, Moms, and certain pies. I want no harm to come to any of those institutions, nor do I take any glee in their demise.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Trigfunctions@Mar 1 2004, 06:55 PM
      More false Republican propaganda.
      Trig:

      I don't think Jeff Jacoby will soon be mistaken for a Republican propagandist.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BurnKU@Mar 1 2004, 06:01 PM
        Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that Kerry strongly defended Israel's controversial security fence as "a legitimate act of self defense," since "no nation can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors and on buses." He said "the fence only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel," and insisted that the International Court of Justice in the Hague has no authority to pass judgment on it.

        Yet just a few months ago, Kerry gave every indication of being firmly against it.

        "We don't need another barrier to peace," he told the Arab American Institute in October. "Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis' security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement that much harder."

        "I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," Kerry said last week.
        I don't think this example means much without some context. When speaking against a fence, was he talking about a specfic piece of the fence routed in a questionable way?

        It's like the charge that Kerry flip-flopped on whether terrorists should be given the death penalty. I think there was good reason for his original stance and a reasonable explanation for the change. But you never hear that part of it.

        That said, I still think he's a big wienie that wouldn't do the country much good. He just wants to be President.

        "I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," Kerry said last week.
        This is a perfect example of what I can't stand about the guy. Quotes like this make me want to say, "Shut up!".
        "Need some wood?" -- George W. Bush, October 8, 2004

        "Historians will judge if this war is just, not your punk ass." -- Dave Glover, December 8, 2004

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Trigfunctions@Mar 1 2004, 06:55 PM
          Besides, Bush took more "special intrest" money in one year than Kerry has in his entire career.
          That would be a great point for Kerry to make, if he didn't take more special interest money than any of his peers. Bush didn't run against taking special interest money, Kerry did. Why can't you admit that's hypocritical?
          Asked what he would do differently in Iraq, Kerry said, "Right now, what I would do differently is, I mean, look, I'm not the president, and I didn't create this mess so I don't want to acknowledge a mistake that I haven't made."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BurnKU@Mar 1 2004, 08:40 PM
            That would be a great point for Kerry to make, if he didn't take more special interest money than any of his peers. Bush didn't run against taking special interest money, Kerry did. Why can't you admit that's hypocritical?
            Bush DID take more special interest money than his peers - in the 2000 election.

            Plus, like I said, there is nothing hypocritical about working within the system you're stuck with while at the same time trying to change the system. In each of his elections, Kerry has been running against Republicans taking special interest money. What is he supposed to do - don't take any money and let the Republicans drown him in negative TV commercials?

            Burn - seriously - you just repeat the same things over and over, regardless of what anyone types.

            I explain exactly why it's not hypocritical, and in your response you say it's hypocritical.

            Do you even bother to read what people write before you pop off another Republican catch-phrase?
            2005 Mandatory Loyalty Oath: I love America, our troops, baseball, Moms, and certain pies. I want no harm to come to any of those institutions, nor do I take any glee in their demise.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Trigfunctions+Mar 1 2004, 08:45 PM-->
              QUOTE(Trigfunctions @ Mar 1 2004, 08:45 PM)

            • #8
              Originally posted by BurnKU+Mar 1 2004, 08:53 PM-->
              QUOTE(BurnKU @ Mar 1 2004, 08:53 PM)
              Originally posted by [email protected] 1 2004, 08:45 PM

            • #9
              And you're just now figuring this out?
              His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
              Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

              Comment


              • #10
                Oh, uh.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Bush is toast!
                  Norman Chad, syndicated columnist: “Sports radio, reflecting our sinking culture, spends entire days advising managers and coaches, berating managers and coaches, firing managers and coaches and searching the countryside for better middle relievers. If they just redirected their energy toward, say, crosswalk-signal maintenance, America would be 2 percent more livable.”

                  "The best argument against democracy," someone (Churchill?) said, "is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Trigfunctions@Mar 1 2004, 08:45 PM
                    Plus, like I said, there is nothing hypocritical about working within the system you're stuck with while at the same time trying to change the system. In each of his elections, Kerry has been running against Republicans taking special interest money. What is he supposed to do - don't take any money and let the Republicans drown him in negative TV commercials?
                    Then why can't the same thing be said for G.W.?

                    No matter how you slice this, it was a tactical error for the Kerry campaign to criticize Bush for the special interest money he has taken.

                    In this world of 15-second sound bites, it reeks of hypocrisy.
                    "You can't handle my opinions." Moedrabowsky

                    Jeffro is a hell of a good man.

                    "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." - Robert Frost

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      FAR52" No matter how you slice this, it was a tactical error for the Kerry campaign to criticize Bush for the special interest money he has taken.

                      In this world of 15-second sound bites, it reeks of hypocrisy.
                      Wrong!

                      Bush is deholden to his special interests-- and pays them back 100-fold with money from the federal treasury! And blatantly, I might add! Witness the Medicare Reform Bill, the (secret) composition of the National Energy (Oil) Policy Task Force, the Utah Federal Land Oil-lease give-away ...!

                      Show me that Kerry has done as much for his "supporters! :o
                      Norman Chad, syndicated columnist: “Sports radio, reflecting our sinking culture, spends entire days advising managers and coaches, berating managers and coaches, firing managers and coaches and searching the countryside for better middle relievers. If they just redirected their energy toward, say, crosswalk-signal maintenance, America would be 2 percent more livable.”

                      "The best argument against democracy," someone (Churchill?) said, "is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by nick2@Mar 2 2004, 10:48 AM
                        FAR52" No matter how you slice this, it was a tactical error for the Kerry campaign to criticize Bush for the special interest money he has taken.

                        In this world of 15-second sound bites, it reeks of hypocrisy.
                        Wrong!

                        Bush is deholden to his special interests-- and pays them back 100-fold with money from the federal treasury! And blatantly, I might add! Witness the Medicare Reform Bill, the (secret) composition of the National Energy (Oil) Policy Task Force, the Utah Federal Land Oil-lease give-away ...!

                        Show me that Kerry has done as much for his "supporters! :o
                        Not addressing the accuracy of your post, it seems to me that that type of message will only play to the democrats core constituency. You've already got their vote.

                        This race will be decided by the undecideds residing in a few key states. I am by no means an expert in political strategy, but my instincts tell me that is not the type of message that will win them over.

                        Like it or not, you (i.e. the democrats) are going to have to sell your candidate and explain in 15 seconds or less why he is the right choice to run the country. A campaign predicated upon "he is not George Bush" -- which thus far seems to be the message coming from Terry McAuliffe -- will not cut it in the long run in my humble opinion.
                        "You can't handle my opinions." Moedrabowsky

                        Jeffro is a hell of a good man.

                        "A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel." - Robert Frost

                        Comment

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