Democrats & Liberals Archives

Reliable Principles, or Reliable Words?

When the San Francisco Chronicle combed through 200 of Kerry’s speeches and statements on Iraq, it found instances of “clumsy phrases and tortuously long explanations” that made Kerry’s position difficult to follow. But it also found that “taken as a whole, Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking Iraq became a national conversation more than two years ago.” The “Willie Horton” Ad Of 2004?

Sometimes, John Kerry can be hard to follow. But what if the problem with Kerry's position is not that he takes so many, but that he sees them differently than most of us?

"Since 1996, the John Kerry who once opposed the Apache helicopter and wanted to cut Tomahawk cruise-missile funds by 50% has evolved into a steady supporter of military budgets."

It's true that Kerry voted against the entire Pentagon appropriations bills in 1990 and 1995, and also voted against the Pentagon authorization bill (which provides authority to spend but not the actual money) in 1996. But in his nearly 20 years in the Senate Kerry has voted for Pentagon budgets far more often than he's opposed them, and hasn't voted against one for the past eight years.

Eight years, no arguments with the pentagon budgets. There are kids in second grade now who weren't even born when Kerry last voted against a Pentagon Budget. There are kids in third grade who weren't born when he last supported an intelligence cut. And guess what it had bipartisan support. You see at that time, we discovered that the CIA was saving back one billion dollars in unspent money. The cuts basically gutted a slush fund. Kerry supported previous cuts, but those cuts were small in relation to the CIA's total budget, post-cold war, and part of a deficit fighting measure.

Factcheck also states that in order to allege inconsistencies in Kerry's other statements, Bush's people had to "edit Kerry's quotes egregiously out of context to make Kerry look inconsistent". The link is there, you'll find the full text of what Kerry really said.

Why is Kerry vulnerable to this? Kerry's manner to me seems quite familiar. It's my own, in many ways. Sometimes, explanations can get long-winded, go nowhere, digress. Catch me at an off moment, and I might contradict myself in a literal sense. But if you were to say I didn't have consistent opinions, actually, you'd be quite wrong. I can be a stickler for rules, for regularity, and I can be quite strong in my beliefs.

Appearances can be deceiving. Somebody listening to Bush now, might think he's consistent. But listen to him six months before, and you'll fall out of your chair in shock. Between two State of the Union Addresses, WMD stockpiles become WMD related program activities. From actual weapons, to board meetings, hidden vials, and plans that aren't being carried out. Big difference, especially when you go in accusing somebody of hiding something, claiming you're invading to disarm Iraq.

Between when this war started and where we are now, Bush went from saying that we were fighting this war so that a Mushroom cloud wouldn't become the smoking gun of Saddam and Osama's shared capabilities to saying that we did it because Saddam was simply a bad man who need to go. The difference? One explanation, if maintained from the start, would have justified a war, the other would have kept things status quo.

The Substance of Kerry's beliefs on Iraq has never really changed. Laid out it goes something like this:

1. Saddam deserved to be deposed.

2. The way he was deposed was important to not having dictatorship return or Chaos some about.

3. Given the case the executive branch delivered to congress, he believe he was right to vote to authorize the president to use force on the condtion that he fulfill certain requirments.

4. The facts of that case have since fallen apart, and knowing what he does now, Kerry would not have had us go to war.

5. In addition to his failure to provide an accurate picture of conditions on the ground, Bush compounded his intelligence failure by willfully circumventing the UN violating the spirit if not the letter of the authorization which required he exhaust his UN remedies and let the inspections become complete.

6. To top it off, Bush failed to prepared properly before the war for what would be one of the most complicated military endeavors any army can take on- an occupation. He let certain advisors run roughshod over the process, and as a result, we went in there with false expectations and insufficient organization and funds to start the Occupation off well. This mistake has had massive repercussions.

7. Faced with the consequences of his actions, Bush's strategy has been to essentially to pump sunshine up America's collective rear end concerning the war, even about the obviously escalating violence. The president, according to Kerry, should be more honest with people concerning this.

8. He would prefer we finish the job in Iraq as quick as we can, and not draw out the occupation, but if it requires more soldiers, more of one thing or another, we should be willing to do what's necessary.

9. We must win this war.

10. We must bring in international help to alleviate burdens.

11. We must refocus our efforts back onto al-Qaeda and start winning the real battles in the war on terror.

12. We must do what it takes to train the Iraqi police and military to defend their own country, even if it involves taking them to another country.

More or less, that's the bulk of it. Where are the contradictions? It's not simple, but since when has politics here or abroad ever been that simple?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 30, 2004 12:27 AM