October 1, 2004


KERRY VS. KERRY: Kerry’s Top Ten Iraq Flip Flops From First Debate (GOP.com, 10/01/04)

ONE: Claimed “I’ll Never Give A Veto To Any Country Over Our Security.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Preemption Must Pass “Global Test” First. “No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Would Wait On French And Russians To Defend America. SEN. JOHN KERRY: “I would have done what was necessary to know that you had exhausted the available remedies with the French and the Russians.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 10/20/03)

TWO: Claimed “Reason For Going To War Was Weapons Of Mass Destruction, Not The Removal Of Saddam Hussein.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Said “Greatest Threat” Was Saddam’s “Miscalculation,” Not “Actual” WMDs. KERRY: “I would disagree with John McCain that it’s the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us, it’s what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran or particularly Israel. Those are the things that – that I think present the greatest danger. He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It’s the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat.” (CBS’ “Face The Nation,” 9/15/02)

THREE: Claimed “This President Has Made, I Regret To Say, A Colossal Error Of Judgment. And Judgment Is What We Look For In The President Of The United States Of America.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Questioned Judgment Of Those Claiming Saddam’s Capture Didn’t Help U.S. Security. “Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture don’t have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.” (CNN’s “Capital Gang,” 12/20/03; Anne Q. Hoy, “Dean Faces More Criticism,” [New York] Newsday, 12/17/03)

FOUR: Complained “We Are 90 Percent Of The Casualties And 90 Percent Of The Cost: $200 Billion – $200 Billion That Could Have Been Used For Health Care, For Schools, For Construction, For Prescription Drugs For Seniors, And It’s In Iraq.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Pledged To Fund Reconstruction With “Whatever Number” Of Dollars It Took. NBC’S TIM RUSSERT: “Do you believe that we should reduce funding that we are now providing for the operation in Iraq?” SEN. JOHN KERRY: “No. I think we should increase it.” RUSSERT: “Increase funding?” KERRY: “Yes.” RUSSERT: “By how much?” KERRY: “By whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win. It is critical that the United States of America be successful in Iraq, Tim.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/31/03)

FIVE: Claimed “You Don’t Send Troops To War Without The Body Armor That They Need.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Said It Would Be Reckless And “Irresponsible” To Vote Against Funding For Troops. LOS ANGELES TIMES’ DOYLE McMANUS: “If that amendment does not pass, will you then vote against the $87 billion?” KERRY: “I don’t think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That’s irresponsible. What is responsible is for the administration to do this properly now. And I am laying out the way in which the administration could unite the American people, could bring other countries to the table, and I think could give the American people a sense that they’re on the right track. There’s a way to do this properly. But I don’t think anyone in the Congress is going to not give our troops ammunition, not give our troops the ability to be able to defend themselves. We’re not going to cut and run and not do the job.” (CBS’ “Face The Nation,” 9/14/03)

ü Kerry Voted Against Senate Passage Of Iraq/Afghanistan Reconstruction Package That Included “Money For Body Armor For Soldiers.” (S. 1689, CQ Vote #400: Passed 87-12: R 50-0; D 37-11; I 0-1, 10/17/03, Kerry Voted Nay; “Highlights Of Iraq, Afghanistan Measures,” The Associated Press, 10/17/03)

ü ‘“I Actually Did Vote For The $87 Billion Before I Voted Against It,’ [Kerry] Said.”(Glen Johnson, “Kerry Blasts Bush On Protecting Troops,” The Boston Globe, 3/17/04)

SIX: Said Americans In Iraq Not Dying For “Mistake.” PBS’ JIM LEHRER: “Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?” KERRY: “No, and they don’t have to, providing we have the leadership that we put – that I’m offering.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Earlier In Debate, Kerry Called Iraq War “Mistake.” “We can’t leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü “But The President Made A Mistake In Invading Iraq.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

SEVEN: Said Knowing What He Knows Now, “Would Not” Have Authorized Use Of Force. “What I think troubles a lot of people in our country is that the president has just sort of described one kind of mistake. But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with al Qaeda, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words. Now, I would not.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Said Knowing What He Knows Now, “Would Have Voted For The Authority.” SEN. JOHN KERRY: “Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it’s the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.” (CNN’s “Inside Politics,” 8/9/04)

EIGHT: Claimed “The President Says That I’m Denigrating These Troops. I Have Nothing But Respect For The British, Tony Blair, And For What They’ve Been Willing To Do.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Dismissed Coalition Partners As “Window Dressing” And Claimed They’re Not Sharing Burden Of War And Reconstruction. CNN’S BILL HEMMER: “The White House would say that dozens of countries are helping now in the effort on the ground in Iraq and they are engaged with the U.N., as well, how would more international involvement prevent the violence we’re seeing today?” SEN. JOHN KERRY: “Well, the fact is that those countries are really window dressing to the greatest degree. And they weren’t there in the beginning when we went in, and they’re not carrying the cost of this war.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 3/2/04)

NINE: Claimed “I’ve Had One Position, One Consistent Position, That Saddam Hussein Was A Threat.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü Kerry Said, “We Now Know That Iraq Had No Weapons Of Mass Destruction, And Posed No Imminent Threat To Our Security.” (Sen. John Kerry, Remarks At New York University, New York, NY, 9/20/04)

TEN: Claimed “My Position Has Been Consistent: Saddam Hussein Is A Threat. He Needed To Be Disarmed.” (Sen. John Kerry, First Presidential Debate, Miami, FL, 9/30/04)

ü “Saying There Are Weapons Of Mass Destruction In Iraq Doesn’t Make It So.” (Sen. John Kerry, Remarks To Democrat National Convention, Boston, MA, 7/29/04)

ü “I Have Always Said We May Yet Even Find Weapons Of Mass Destruction.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 12/14/03)

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2004 2:48 PM

I think kerry believes he can neutralize the flip-flop issue by flip-flopping so much that the electorate becomes desensitized to it.

Posted by: M. Murcek at October 1, 2004 3:07 PM

How can Kerry pretend to lead the troops to victory in what he views as a "Colossal Error of Judgment"? If it is so, then our cause is certainly unjust and not worth fighting for.

Posted by: John Resnick at October 1, 2004 3:08 PM

M. Murcek,

You have hit the nail on the head. I think the Kerry campaign has concluded that if you can't convince them with logic, confuse them with BS. Just say everything, and hopefully each listener will cotton on to what he or she is comfortable with.

Posted by: sam at October 1, 2004 4:10 PM

So when the much anticipated bounce from Kerry's blowout debate victory fails to appear (it's probably hanging out with his convention bounce somewhere) can we say that the flip-flopper is the anti-flubber?

Posted by: brian at October 1, 2004 4:27 PM

According to Hugh Hewitt, the Bush campaign is already hammering Kerry on the "global test" line.

The angle of attack is "The President's job is not to take an international poll. The President's job is to defend America."

Speculation is Bush played dumb and let the line slide without comment last night to keep Kerry (who by the way served in Vietnam) from realizing he'd put his foot into his mouth and start damage control.

Like a poker game (of which Bush was a master during his Ivy League days) -- play dumb, let your opponent underestimate you until he inadvertently does something dumb, then drop your hand in his face and rake in the chips.

Isn't it reassuring that Bush is Soooo Stoopid?
Hee hee hee hee hee...

Posted by: Ken at October 1, 2004 4:50 PM

Ken -- If that was Bush's strategy last night, it backfired. I think Kerry is arrogant, duplicitous, vacillating, egotistical, vain, and has a host of other disqualifications too numerous to mention. But whatever the facts or misrepresentations that were covered by the debate, stylistically he won hands down. He spoke without his usual elliptical meandering, forbore to attach Bush on a personal level, and had a forceful, energetic delivery. Admittedly, his orange cheekbones and hooded eyes gave him a rather bizarre and menacing appearance, but his bearing was erect and dignified and he certainly is altogether presentable.

By contrast, Bush's hesitant stammerings made an almost painful impression, and when he kept grimacing at various criticisms from his opponent I kept wondering "where's that poker face we hear so much about?" More importantly, he never made the most pertinent answer to Kerry's point about Al Qaeda being our enemy instead of Saddam Hussein. The point, as pretty nearly all of us participants in the blog are agreed, is that Al Qaeda is merely a symptom of the Islamist phenomenon and that Bush is attacking the movement at its root causes. He implied this from time to time, but never stated it outright. Why didn't he? It would have made his case much stronger.

For those who've already made up their minds to vote for Bush, the debate won't matter much. But I do not see how it could sway any undecided voter in Bush's direction.

Posted by: Josh Silverman at October 1, 2004 6:26 PM


The 'undecided' voter is a myth, conjured up by the media to thrash the spin and the polling data for the duration of the campaign. Certainly, some people don't know who they will vote for. But the fault line has been in place for a long time.

Bush was never going to reach out and pull in 10% of the electorate last night. More importantly, neither was Kerry.

Bush may not impress, but Kerry cannot lure anyone with his condescension and his deliberate vagueness.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 1, 2004 10:33 PM