June 19, 2004
THE FREEDOM-DENYING REALIST:
Kerry's Cruel Realism (DAVID BROOKS, 6/19/04, NY Times)
Sometimes in the unscripted moments of a campaign, when the handlers are away, a candidate shows his true nature. Earlier this month, Andres Oppenheimer of The Miami Herald asked John Kerry what he thought of something called the Varela Project. Kerry said it was "counterproductive." It's necessary to try other approaches, he added.
The Varela Project happens to be one of the most inspiring democracy movements in the world today. It is being led by a Cuban dissident named Oswaldo Payá, who has spent his life trying to topple Castro's regime. Payá realized early on that the dictatorship would never be overthrown by a direct Bay of Pigs-style military assault, but it could be undermined by a peaceful grass-roots movement of Christian democrats, modeling themselves on Martin Luther King Jr. [...]
This drive, the Varela Project, quickly amassed the 10,000 signatures, and more. Jimmy Carter lauded the project on Cuban television. The European Union gave Payá its Sakharov Prize for human rights.
Then came Castro's crackdown. Though it didn't dare touch Payá, the regime arrested 75 other dissidents and sentenced each of them to up to 28 years in jail. This week Payá issued a desperate call for international attention and solidarity because the hunt for dissidents continues.
John Kerry's view? As he told Oppenheimer, the Varela Project "has gotten a lot of people in trouble . . . and it brought down the hammer in a way that I think wound up being counterproductive."
Imagine if you are a Cuban political prisoner rotting in a jail, and you learn that the leader of the oldest democratic party in the world thinks you're being counterproductive. Kerry's comment is a harpoon directed at the morale of Cuba's dissidents.
There were a number of patently absurd stories earlier this week about how John Kerry was trying to claim the Reagan mantle too. In fact, he's the anti-Reagan. Witness Natan Sharansky's memory upon hearing a very different statement while imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag:
Were there any particular Reagan moments that you can recall being sources of strength or encouragement to you and your colleagues?
I have to laugh. People who take freedom for granted, Ronald Reagan for granted, always ask such questions. Of course! It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. There was a long list of all the Western leaders who had lined up to condemn the evil Reagan for daring to call the great Soviet Union an evil empire right next to the front-page story about this dangerous, terrible man who wanted to take the world back to the dark days of the Cold War. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell's Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union.
It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin's "Great October Bolshevik Revolution" and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution--Reagan's Revolution.
Throughout his life Senator Kerry has instinctively supported tyrannical Communist regimes from Vietnam to Cambodia to Nicaragua to Grenada to even (when he wasn't running for president) the Stalinist Saddam Hussein. His opposition to an anti-Castro movement is of a piece with that despicable record. Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2004 9:52 AM