October 27, 2004


JOHN KERRY'S JOURNEY: 2 Kerry Votes on War and Peace Underline a Political
: Votes against the gulf war in 1991 and for using force against Iraq in 2002 seem like a metaphor for John Kerry's Senate career. (TODD S. PURDUM, 10/27/04, NY Times)
On Jan. 11, 1991, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts took the Senate floor to make a clear, impassioned speech against passage of a resolution authorizing the first President Bush to use force to eject Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

"Are we supposed to go to war simply because one man - the president - makes a series of unilateral decisions that put us in a box, a box that makes war, to a greater degree, inevitable?" Mr. Kerry asked.

On Oct. 9, 2002, Mr. Kerry rose in the Senate chamber to make a very different speech, a tortured, 45-minute argument reluctantly supporting George W. Bush's request for authority to disarm Mr. Hussein, almost certainly by force.

"By standing with the president, Congress would demonstrate our nation is united in its determination to take away" Iraq's arsenal, Mr. Kerry said, "and we are affirming the president's right and responsibility to keep the American people safe."

Those votes on war and peace, out of the thousands Mr. Kerry has cast over nearly 20 years, have come to seem a kind of metaphor for his career in the Senate, a study in the conflicts between conviction and calculation, clarity and confusion that have marked much of his public life.

There were many differences between those two moments, 11 years apart. In 1991, the United Nations had already voted to authorize military action; the Senate vote came four days before an international deadline for war. In 2002, the Bush administration was still awaiting U.N. support: the vote was seen as important leverage.
What's expedience a metaphor for? Hollowness?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2004 8:41 AM
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