March 20, 2004


After 19 Years in Senate, Kerry of Today Is Far From Kerry of 1985 (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, 3/20/04, NY Times)

When he first entered the Senate, in 1985, John Kerry was a proponent of a nuclear arms freeze and he joined other liberal Democrats in challenging numerous elements of President Ronald Reagan's military expansion. He called the build-up unnecessary and said some of the weapons systems were useless.

Mr. Reagan's military expansion was subsequently credited for helping hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union. And with the cold war ending, the world was suddenly a different place. The next president, George Bush, also a Republican, and his secretary of defense, Dick Cheney, began drawing down the armed forces and scaling back weapons systems, reaping the benefits of what was referred to as the peace dividend.

Mr. Kerry, like most of his colleagues, went along. But he also occasionally went further than the majority of his party.

In 1994 he proposed some cuts in military programs and intelligence services that even many Democrats rejected. Senator Dennis DeConcini, the Arizona Democrat who then headed the intelligence committee, had said, earlier cuts were "as deep as the intelligence community can withstand during its post-cold-war transition." [...]

More recently, Mr. Bush has ridiculed Mr. Kerry for initially supporting the use of force in Iraq, then campaigning against it.

In the heat of the Democratic primaries this year, after Howard Dean, the antiwar candidate, criticized his vote, Mr. Kerry said that he had merely voted for the president to "threaten" the use of force and that he had believed Mr. Bush would build an international coalition and go to war only as a last resort.

The Bush campaign is also emphasizing Mr. Kerry's subsequent vote against $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan and for more equipment for the troops.

Explaining his vote at the time, Mr. Kerry said: "The best way to support our troops and take the target off their backs is with a real strategy to win the peace in Iraq — not by throwing $87 billion at George Bush's failed policies."

He also said he wanted that $87 billion to come from rescinding part of Mr. Bush's tax cut and he voted for an amendment to do that. But it was rejected, so Mr. Kerry voted against the final measure.

In a scathing television commercial, the Bush campaign singles out items from that one vote to suggest that Mr. Kerry voted "no" several times against specific outlays like "funding our soldiers," "body armor for troops in combat" and "higher combat pay." The Bush campaign then remade the commercial and began running it on Thursday to further deride Mr. Kerry. It pointed to his recent explanation that "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Wow, the transformation from opposing Vietnam to opposing the Cold War to opposing the war on terror is really startling, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 20, 2004 9:31 PM
Comments for this post are closed.