JOHN KERRY. . .
Kerry tries to suppress torture
unconstitutinal law Obama wants to use against Snowden
Lindorff, Counterpunch - Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry,
hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBCs Brian
Williams that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower
Edward Snowden should man up and return to the US
to stand in our system of justice and make his case....
is not alone in convicting Snowden in absentia and without a
trial. He is only echoing the sentiments of his boss, President
Barack Obama, who has already made it clear that he thinks Snowden
is guilty under the Espionage Act that hoary World War
I-era law that his administration has revivified from a legal
crypt to prosecute whistleblowers and under which Snowden has
been indicted by the US Justice Department...
top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, has also said he
thinks Snowden belongs in the slammer (though he promised Russia
that Snowden, if handed over to the US for arrest, would not
be tortured, and that if convicted, would not be executed). As
Holder put it, in a question-and-answer session worthy of Lewis
Carroll held at the University of Virginia Law School, his office
would be willing to discuss a deal with Snowden,
but only if Snowden first pleaded guilty....
be clear here. As Kerry surely knows, Snowden, under the Espionage
Act, would not even be allowed to present even at the
sentencing phase of any trial an argument justifying his
decision to copy the NSA data, and to provide it to journalists.
Nor, under the Espionage Act, would he be permitted to argue
that the data had been unconstitutionally obtained by the NSA,
or that it was improperly classified as secret. None of that
would be permitted. All he would have a right to do would be
to attempt the impossible and try to prove that he did not steal
not a genuine trial. That is a witch-hunt. It is a star-chamber
if Kerry had any real courage, he would admit to the American
people that he nearly managed to drag this country into a tragic
war in Syria (on the side of Al Qaeda), with the lies he spouted
about a purported slam-dunk case of poison gas use by Syrian
dictator Bashar al Assad last year. He would admit that his own
State Department was behind the bloody coup that toppled the
elected government of Ukraine. And he would admit that the fliers
circulated in pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine purporting
to require Ukranian Jews to register with the local rebel government
were frauds and a false-flag action designed to discredit the
knows what courage is mainly because he is so clearly lacking
in it. That was made abundantly evident during his sorry campaign
for president back in 2004, when he ran as fast as he could from
his brief history as a critic of American imperial war-making
back in 1971, presenting himself instead as a bronze star-honored
When you say somethng right in Washington,
you have to apologize for it
- Secretary of State John Kerry apologized Monday night for using
the phrase "apartheid state" during a closed-door meeting
to describe what Israel could become if both sides fail to agree
on a two-state solution in the Middle East.
made the remark during a private meeting of the Trilateral Commission,
an organization created to bring leaders together to discuss
In a rare
apology sent out in a statement by the State Department, Kerry
said if he could rewind the tape, he wouldn't have
used the term apartheid in speaking about Israel.
began with a defense of Kerry's record as a supporter of Israel.
will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by anyone,
particularly for partisan, political purposes, so I want to be
crystal clear about what I believe and what I don't believe,
Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have
I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid
state or that it intends to become one," he said. "Anyone
who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt."
he said he has been around long enough to know the
power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional.
I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word
to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term
to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living
side by side in peace and security is through a two-state solution,
Kerry backs Israeli apartheid
Kerry pushes Israeli occupation
Kerry supports Israeli land theft
John Kerry: Secretary of Buffoonery
Raimando, Anti-War - Oh, the burden of empire! It weighs so heavily
on John Kerrys shoulders:
of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex
challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the
Middle East, declaring it was easier during the Cold
a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US
diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory
of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would
crouch under our desks at school and practice safety
steps for a possible nuclear attack.
the Cold War
it was easier than it is today simpler
is maybe a way to put it, Kerry told aid and development
choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more
clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.
were the Good Old Days when children in the schoolroom
cowered beneath their desks and we almost went to war
with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union over missiles in Cuba which
posed no more threat than missiles outside Moscow. Does "quaint"
even begin to describe that vintage scene? Its all so Currier
the Good Guys and the Russkies were the Bad Guys and never
the morally equivalent twain shall meet! If only we could get
back to those halcyon days, everything would be "simpler,"
an implacable enemy of unrivaled evil supposedly bent on our
destruction has its advantages yes, a US Secretary of
State actually does seem to believe this. Having nuclear-armed
enemies is a Good Thing because it makes the job of US
officials so much easier. Should we support a South American
dictator who murders his own people for looking at him cross-eyed
but of course we should, because he hates the Russkies!
Do we really need to build more nuclear weapons than it would
take to incinerate the world one-hundred times over? The answer
back then was an obvious yes, at least to our wise
rulers (who never considered how dangerous our arsenal would
become once it started to age
.). And how about getting
involved in a war in Southeast Asia that would take tens of thousands
of American lives and easily a million non-Americans
a war this same John Kerry would refer to with unmitigated contempt
as he threw his war medals right back at the Pentagon?
the beauty of simplicity! No hard decisions. No moral
the post-war 1950s and 1960s, Kerry said, we could make
really bad decisions and still win, because we were pretty much
the sole dominant economic and military power around. Its
not true any more.
he mustve been suffering from jet lag during that little
convocation, because back in the cold war era there were two
big powers, not one: he seems to have forgotten about the Soviet
Union. But no matter: thats just a not-so-minor detail,
the kind that makes all the difference in the world.
Kerry pushes Israeli occupation
Kerry says spying on allies is
Kerry lies about his Iraq war
Kerry supports Israeli land theft
The case against Kerry
Ever modest John Kerry is going
to be fun
JOHN KERRY RATED MOST VAIN MEMBER
KERRY TRIED TO GET MCCAIN ON HIS
KERRY THOUGHT ABOUT SELLING OUT
BY RUNNING WITH RIGHT-WINGER MCCAIN
PRESIDENTIAL AMBITION DROVE KERRY'S
VOTE FOR WAR
GREG PIERCE, WASHINGTON TIMES - Sen. John
Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, voted for the Iraq war resolution
in 2002 after weighing the political ramifications and being
told by his future campaign manager that he would never be elected
president in 2004 unless he sided with President Bush on the
issue, according to a forthcoming book by Mr. Kerry's former
strategist. . . [Robert Shrum] writes that Mr. Kerry telephoned
him on the eve of the Oct. 11, 2002, vote. Mr. Shrum said that
Mr. Kerry was skeptical of Mr. Bush's claim that Iraq had weapons
of mass destruction and that he "didn't trust Bush to give
the diplomatic route a real chance." Nonetheless, Mr. Kerry
asked Mr. Shrum whether he would "be a viable general election
candidate if he was in the small minority of senators who voted
no." Mr. Shrum wrote that he told Mr. Kerry that it was
"impossible to predict the political fallout if we went
to war." But he wrote that Jim Jordan, Mr. Kerry's former
Senate press secretary and future campaign manager, "was
insisting that he had to vote with Bush." Mr. Shrum wrote
that Mr. Jordan had "hammered" Mr. Kerry with a warning:
"Go ahead and vote against it if you want, but you'll never
be president of the United States." Mr. Kerry voted for
the war resolution, and Mr. Jordan became Mr. Kerry's campaign
manager three months later.
THE REAL PROBLEM WITH JOHN KERRY
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING KERRY
[Collected by James Taranto of
the Wall Street Journal]
We cannot have it both ways in
the war in Iraq. - June 2006
Yea. - vote on authorizing military
force to liberate Iraq, Oct. 12, 2002
Even having botched the diplomacy,
it is the duty of any president, in the final analysis, to defend
this nation and dispel the security threat. . . . Saddam Hussein
has brought military action upon himself by refusing for 12 years
to comply with the mandates of the United Nations. - March 18,
I voted to authorize. It was
the right vote, and the reason I mentioned the threat is that
we gave the--we had to give life to the threat. If there wasn't
a legitimate threat, Saddam Hussein was not going to allow inspectors
in. Now, let me make two points if I may. Ed [Gordon] questioned
my answer. The reason I can't tell you to a certainty whether
the president misled us is because I don't have any clue what
he really knew about it, or whether he was just reading what
was put in front of him. And I have no knowledge whether or not
this president was in depth--I just don't know that. And that's
an honest answer, and there are serious suspicions about the
level to which this president really was involved in asking the
questions that he should've. With respect to the question of,
you know, the vote--let's remember where we were. If there hadn't
been a vote, we would never have had inspectors. And if we hadn't
voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a
chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president,
in effect, who already had the votes, and who was obviously asking
serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going
to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat. So I think
we did the right thing. I'm convinced we did. -Sept. 9, 2003
Nay - vote on $87 billion to
fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Oct. 17, 2003
I actually did vote for the $87
billion before I voted against it. - March 16, 2004
The president made a mistake
in invading Iraq. - Sept. 30, 2004
No. - answer to Jim Lehrer's
question "Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?,"
Sept. 30, 2004
I was wrong to vote for that
Iraqi resolution. - June 13, 2006
STILL WAITING ON KERRY
JOAN VENNOCHI, BOSTON GLOBE -
At this point, it comes as no surprise. John Kerry is releasing
all his military records -- but then again, he isn't. During
an interview with Globe editorial writers and columnists, the
former Democratic presidential nominee was asked if [he] had
signed Form SF 180, authorizing the Department of Defense to
grant access to all his military records.
'I have signed it,' Kerry said.
Then, he added that his staff was 'still going through it' and
'very, very shortly, you will have a chance to see it.'
The devil is usually in the details.
With Kerry, it's also in the dodges and digressions. After the
interview, Kerry's communications director, David Wade, was asked
to clarify when Kerry signed SF 180 and when public access would
be granted. Kerry drifted over to join the conversation, immediately
raising the confusion level. He did not answer the question of
when he signed the form or when the entire record will be made
Several e-mails later, Wade conveyed
the following information: On Friday, May 20, Kerry obtained
a copy of Form 180 and signed it. 'The next step is to send it
to the Navy, which will happen in the next few days. The Navy
will then send out the records,' e-mailed Wade. Kerry first said
he would sign Form 180 when pressed by Tim Russert during a Jan.
30 appearance on 'Meet the Press.'
Six months after Kerry's loss
to George W. Bush, it feels somewhat gratuitous to point out
how hard it can be to get a clear, straight answer from Kerry
on this and other matters. But as long as the Massachusetts senator
is thinking about another presidential run, the candor gap remains
on the table, because he puts it there.
JOSH GERSTEIN, NY SUN - More
than a year after promising on national television to release
his full military record, Senator Kerry of Massachusetts authorized
the Navy last month to provide his service file to selected news
organizations. However, Mr. Kerry has not given the military
permission to disclose the records to the general public, fueling
continued speculation by the senator's critics that he is attempting
to hush up some aspect of his service.
The news organizations that have
seen the latest collection of documents reported that there was
little new information aside from a copy of Mr. Kerry's Yale
University transcript showing that the future politician received
some mediocre marks. . .
Some of Mr. Kerry's most ardent
supporters said they were mystified by his handling of the military
records flap. . . One of Mr. Kerry's leading critics during the
campaign and during his years as an anti-war activist, John O'Neill,
said yesterday that glaring gaps remain in the senator's military
record. "This is not a complete release of all records,
demonstrably not," Mr. O'Neill said in an interview. "It's
the fourth time Kerry has made a complete release of his military
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
I'm going to
talk somewhere, in an appropriate moment - I'm not sure when
or where - you know values and faith.
COCKBURN ON KERRY
COUNTERPUNCH - In the early days of his Senate career Kerry made
headlines with hearings on contra-CIA drug smuggling and on BCCI,
the crooked Pakistani bank linked to the CIA. Some of the Senate
elders must have told him to mind his manners. The watchdog's
barks died abruptly.
himself up mainly as a more competent manager of the Bush agenda,
a steadier hand on the helm of the Empire. His pedigree is immaculate.
He was a founder-member of the Democratic Leadership Council,
the claque of neo-liberals that has sought to reshape it as a
hawkish and pro-business party with a soft spot for abortion-essentially
a stingier version of the Rockefeller Republicans. Kerry enthusiastically
backed both of Bush's wars, and in June of 2004, at the very
moment Bush signaled a desire to retreat, the senator called
for 25,000 new troops to be sent to Iraq, with a plan for the
US military to remain entrenched there for at least the next
the Patriot Act without reservation or even much contemplation.
Lest you conclude that this was a momentary aberration sparked
by the post-9/11 hysteria, consider the fact that Kerry also
voted for the two Clinton-era predecessors to the Patriot Act,
the 1994 Crime Bill and the 1996 Counter-Terrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act.
his nomination was assured he regularly hammed it up in photo-ops
with the barons of big labor, Kerry voted for NAFTA, the WTO
and virtually every other job-slashing trade pact that came before
the Senate. He courted and won the endorsement of nearly every
police association in the nation, regularly calling for another
100,000 cops on the streets and even tougher criminal sanctions
against victimless crimes. He refused to reconsider his fervid
support for the insane war on drug users, which has destroyed
families and clogged our prisons with more than 2 million people,
many of them young black men, whom the draconian drug laws specifically
target without mercy. Kerry backed the racist death penalty and
minimum mandatory sentences.
Like Joe Lieberman,
Kerry marketed himself as a cultural prude, regularly chiding
teens about the kind of clothes they wear, the music they listen
to and the movies they watch. But even Lieberman didn't go so
far as to support the Communications Decency Act. Kerry did.
KERRY AT WAR
- Here's another reason J. Forbes Kerry should stop yakking about
Vietnam and get down to business: There were 1.3 million medals
awarded during the Vietnam War compared with 1.7 million during
World War II. The figures are not as big for specific awards
but the totals are still impressive. For example, there were
245 Medals of Honor(which Kerry didn't get). And the Army alone
awarded 21,630 Silver Stars. Then there are the 47,000 troops
who were killed. That's a lot of potential hero competition for
Kerry. It's just lucky he's running against an AWOLer.
The race for
the White House should be about leadership, and leadership
requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen
them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned
about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions
and differences of that crucible of our generation - JOHN KERRY,
GAMBIT PROVES A DISASTER AMONG VETS
As we warned
on a number of occasions, John Kerry's hyping of his Vietnam
tour has proved a huge disaster among voters who are veterans.
According to a new CBS poll, only 37% of vets now support Kerry
compared with 46% immediately after the convention. Bush, despite
his AWOL status during the same war, has moved up from 46% to
55%. Nader got only 1% each time.
In short, this
has been one of the great political missteps of recent years,
a candidate who goes out and makes a big deal of a few months
in his life only to have it backfire on him among the very voters
he is trying to reach.
Here's how it
seems to have happened. Kerry's victory in Iowa was rightfully
attributed in part to the bounce from the public support given
him by ex-shipmates. But Iowa is one of the most veteran-heavy
states in the union and the story was relatively new and unchallenged.
If Kerry had
let others speak of his Vietnam activities, all might have been
well. Instead, the candidate engaged in version of the maritime
barroom trait known as telling "sea stories." Some
of these may be true, but typically they are embellished for
the benefit of the listener. A "sea story" is by definition
an exaggerated version of events, not considered malicious but
also not to be taken as the verbatim truth.
When the sea
story involves one's own alleged heroism, however, the reaction
of other vets can turn decidedly sour. Bill Mauldin said you
could tell the hero in a bar because he was the morose guy in
the corner by himself. George McGovern described them as the
ones who came home dead.
Kerry broke the
rules of the game by his bragging and now is paying the price.
It doesn't matter that some of his critics are also telling sea
stories or real untruths. He should have been smart enough to
see it coming and avoided the temptation. Now his campaign and
the nation are paying the price as one of the dumbest campaign
gimmicks of recent times falls part - SAM SMITH
NY POST & ABC: MAJOR KERRY DONOR HAD DEALINGS
WITH MAFIA HIT MAN
NY POST - A scandal might be brewing in John Kerry's camp over
revelations that his biggest donor, billionaire playboy Steve
Bing, has close ties to a Mafia hitman. Bing, who inherited a
$600 million real estate fortune courtesy of his grandfather,
Leo Bing, has amassed over $16 million for the Democrats. He
has donated $8.1 million to groups that are creating and airing
anti-George Bush TV ads, according to Variety.
Now, ABC News
reports that one of Bing's close friends is Dominic Montemarano,
a.k.a. Donnie Shacks, a New York-based Mafia hit man who did
12 years in prison on racketeering charges and is currently serving
four years for domestic violence. The L.A. Times has reported
that Bing paid Montemarano's legal fees the last time he had
a brush with the law. ABC described Montemarano as Bing's "business
partner" and "employee" - although Bing's lawyer,
Marty Singer, says that's not the case.
KERRY THE JOCK
MARK STEYN, LONDON
TELEGRAPH - I find it hard to believe that getting to know John
F Kerry can possibly work to his advantage. He was in Wisconsin
the other day, pretending to be a regular guy, and was asked
what kind of hunting he preferred. "I'd have to say deer,"
said the senator. "I go out with my trusty 12-gauge double-barrel,
crawl around on my stomach... That's hunting."
This caused huge
hilarity among my New Hampshire neighbors. None of us has ever
heard of anybody deer hunting by crawling around on his stomach,
even in Massachusetts. The trick is to blend in with the woods
and, given that John Kerry already looks like a forlorn tree
in late fall, it's hard to see why he'd give up his natural advantage
in order to hunt horizontally. Possibly his weird Vietnam nostalgia
is getting out of control. Still, if I come across a guy in the
woods in deer season inching through the undergrowth with a mouthful
of bear scat, at least I'll know who it is. Conversely, if you're
a 14-point buck and get shot in the toe this autumn, you'll know
who to sue.
WASHINGTON TIMES - Sportswriter Peter Gammons, in a column last
week on ESPN's Web site, took Democratic presidential candidate
Sen. John Kerry to task for pretending to be a die-hard Boston
Red Sox fan. "So who puts the bug in candidates' ears about
seeming what they are not?" Mr. Gammons asked. "John
Kerry last week professed to be a big fan of 'Manny Ortez,' then
re-emphasized the phoofery by correcting it to 'David Ortez.'
No, that was Dave (Baby) Cortez and 'The Happy Organ.' A few
years back Kerry went on a Boston station with Eddie Andelman
and said 'my favorite Red Sox player of all time is The Walking
Man, Eddie Yost,' who never played for the Red Sox."
AL KREBS, CALAMITY HOWLER -
If John Kerry should get elected, particularly after one reads
that the Democrats have produced a party platform with broad
appeal, turning aside one attempt after another to move the presidential
campaign document --- and the party --- leftward, one can only
wonder what the future holds for our children and their children.
"The Kerry/Edwards campaign
and the Democratic Party leadership are apparently so afraid
of confronting Bush that they're retreating on many of the most
crucial issues in the 2004 election," Joe Fortunato, Green
congressional candidate in New Jersey reminds us: "The Democratic
platform draft should dispel illusions that those who care about
reversing Bush policies on global warming or Iraq might find
relief in the Democratic Party." Among the problems cited:
- Sen. Kerry has no clear position
on strengthening the Kyoto Accord, restoring U.S. participation
in the agreement, or aggressive national and international steps
to stem catastrophic global climate change, or challenging the
domination of U.S. policy by energy firms like Halliburton. The
Democratic Party's 2004 platform does not mention the Kyoto Accord
or higher fuel efficiency standards for cars.
- Neither Sen. Kerry nor the
Democratic platform call for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq;
Sen. Kerry proposes to send 40,000 additional troops to Iraq
for a prolonged occupation, despite Iraq's new 'sovereignty.'
Neither Sen. Kerry nor the Democratic platform criticizes former
Iraqi administrator Bremer's mandate opening up Iraqi resources
and business to up to 100% foreign ownership, which violates
the 1907 Hague Conventions' rules against pillage by an invading
- Sen. Kerry, reversing his
position, has announced his support for Israel's security fence
in the West Bank, which was ruled illegal by the International
Court of Justice.
- The Democratic Platform says
nothing about overturning or revising the USA Patriot Act or
about the Ashcroft Justice Department's possible plans to expand
the act. 332 cities, four states, and the Green Party have condemned
the act's numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution
- The Democratic Platform makes
no mention of veterans, despite the Bush Administration's efforts
in 2003 to scale back veterans' benefits by $25 billion.
Greens have also noted that
Kerry and the Democratic platform would maintain corporate insurance
and HMO domination of the U.S. health care system, and say nothing
about guaranteed living wages or repeal of Taft-Hartley restrictions
on union organizing.
Kerry himself has told the
Los Angeles Times because he expects his liberal base to stick
by him no matter what happens he plans to aggressively court
more conservative voters with a message that emphasizes traditional
values of service, faith and family.
KERRY USING MAJOR DRUG WAR PUSHER AS ADVISOR
DAVE KOPEL AND MIKE KRAUSE, REASON - Anyone who thinks a vote
for John Kerry means a vote for a more liberalized approach to
drug policy should think again. Candidate Kerry's choice for
Homeland Security Advisor, Rand Beers, is a seasoned drug warrior
who has already shown his loyalty to the well being of the drug
war, no matter how many lives it destroys, or how many narco-terrorists
are enriched along the way. . .
More recently, before
he quit his Bush White House position as Special Assistant to
the President and Senior Director for Combating Terrorism and
joined the Kerry camp, he served in both the Clinton and Bush
Administrations' as Assistant Secretary of State for International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs; the top cop and chief
apologist for America's war on drugs in Latin America. He is
also one of the architects of "Plan Colombia," the
multi-billion dollar militarization of the drug war in Colombia.
COST OF JOHN KERRY'S Ottrott bicycle:
HOW TO GET A
LOT OF NUANCE
WEISMAN, WASHINGTON POST - From a tight knit group of experienced
advisers, John F. Kerry's presidential campaign has grown exponentially
in recent months to include a cast literally of thousands, making
it difficult to manage an increasingly unwieldy policy apparatus.
The campaign now includes 37 separate domestic policy councils
and 27 foreign policy groups, each with scores of members. The
justice policy task force alone includes 195 members. The environmental
group is roughly the same size, as is the agriculture and rural
development council. Kerry counts more than 200 economists as
HAS TO BEAT CLINTON AS WELL AS BUSH
OUR CHECK OF Google over
the past three months finds Clinton behind George Bush in mentions
but ahead of John Kerry. Figures are:
Bush: 7,40, 000
Kerry does better with news media where he runs comfortably ahead
But at the Washington Post over the past two weeks we find Clinton
close to Kerry:
Clinton, who did more damage to his party than any Democratic
White House incumbent in a century, has considerable mischief
capability over the next few weeks. Two possible Kerry responses
that might help: go counter to the con wiz and pick an exciting
vice president. John Edwards, for example, is just as good a
southern bull shitter as Clinton and hell of a lot cleaner. Another
possibility: do what Gore should have done and criticize Clintonâs
behavior in the White House.
The Democrats deny it, the media ignores it, but according to
exit polls, 15% of the people who voted for Clinton in 1996 voted
for Bush in 2000, a much bigger factor than Nader. Gore got only
15% of the vote of those who thought being honest and trustworthy
was most important in a president. Only 36% of all voters had
a favorable opinion of Clinton and 68% said Clinton would go
down in the history books for his scandals rather than for his
[We used two alternate names in each case i.e George Bush
and George W. Bush, John Kerry and John F. Kerry, and Bill Clinton
and William Jefferson Clinton]
JOHN KERRY - Our tax code
has gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages. Do any of you have your
own page? Enron got its own a page. . . . And it looks like Halliburton
got a whole chapter.
Three Purple Hearts beat
three DWIs - Horseshoe guy at Don Imus' ranch
KERRY'S HEALTH CARE PLAN
CECI CONNOLLY WASHINGTON POST - For more than a decade, the
health care debate in America has focused on the millions of
people without insurance. Now, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), in
an unconventional twist for a Democrat, is focusing on the 162
million Americans who are purchasing insurance and what can be
done to ease the double-digit premium increases paid by employers
and their workers.
At the center of Kerry's ideas is his proposal to have the
federal government reimburse employers 75 percent of medical
bills over $50,000 that a worker runs up in a year. The reimbursement
would, in effect, make the government a secondary insurer and
ease costs for employers, workers and private insurers.
In exchange for the benefit, Kerry would require employers
to offer insurance to every worker and to provide health programs
that detect and manage chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure
early enough to prevent the diseases from worsening.
RAINES ON JOHN KERRY
[Raines is now writing for the
RAINES, GUARDIAN - I believe Kerry can do it, but I feel
less sure of that now than I did in the primaries. Every time
I talk to a reporter who has covered him, new doubts creep in
about his ability to connect with voters. I personally find him
easier to talk to than Al Gore, but there's no denying that he's
And he's pompous in a way that Gore is not. With Gore, you feel
that if he could choose, he would have been born poor and cool.
Kerry radiates the feeling that he is entitled to his sense of
entitlement. Probably that comes from spending too much time
with Teddy Kennedy, but it's a problem. The TV camera is an x-ray
for picking up attitudinal truths, and Kerry's lantern jaw and
Addams Family face somehow reinforce the message that this guy
has passed from ponderous to pompous and is so accustomed to
privilege that he doesn't have to worry about looking goofy.
It's as if Lurch had gone to Choate.
Recently, a lot of campaign reporters were writing that Kerry
is altering his "populist" message and moving to the
centre. If John Kerry was ever a populist, George W Bush is a
Rhodes scholar. Here's what Kerry has to face up to and build
upon. The difference between him and Bush is that Kerry represents
the liberal, charitable wing of the Privilege party and George
W represents the conservative, greedy wing of the Privilege party.
BLOWS COVER ON CONVENTION AND FINANCING MYTHS
JOURNAL - The news that the Massachusetts senator may delay accepting
the presidential nomination until several weeks beyond the Democratic
Party's late-July Boston convention exposes two truths that the
political class hates to admit.
is that the party conventions are now little more than free advertising
vehicles. They long ago lost all political drama, but this year
one of them may not even nominate a candidate. The next step
would be for the media finally to agree not to cover them, though
we probably won't because these week-long affairs have also become
the equivalent of cardiologist conventions for the political
press. We get to see old friends and eat well on expense accounts.
this Kerry trial balloon exposes campaign-finance limits as a
monumental farce. The Kerry camp is considering this maneuver
so it can keep raising and spending money as long as possible
without having to abide by spending limits that kick in once
a party formally nominates its candidate.
WHY NOT NADER AS KERRY'S VEEP?
GILMORE, BOING BOING - If Kerry had the sense to pick Nader as
his VP, they'd unify the anti-Bush ranks and eliminate the chance
of a significant protest vote. Nader polls at 4%, which would
put Kerry over the top. Independent voters have noticed the remarkably
similar platforms of Bush and Kerry re the Iraq war (they're
for it), Guantanamo (they're for indefinite imprisonment without
judicial review), the Patriot Act (they're for it), and many
other issues like the drug war (they're for it). If independents
could vote at least one honest person into one party's administration,
known for blowing the whistle when needed, they would be a lot
more inclined to do so.
HAS TROUBLE WITH WHITE VOTERS
NY TIMES - Despite President Bush's dip in popularity, Mr. Kerry
hasn't made any real headway, according to the polls. Part of
the problem is his lack of support among white men. Mr. Kerry
has the support of only 36 percent of white male voters, compared
with 55 for the president, according to the most recent New York
Times/CBS News poll, taken last month. To win the presidency,
Mr. Kerry won't need a majority of white male votes. No Democratic
presidential candidate has managed to do that since Jimmy Carter
in 1976, because of the party's perceived weak-kneed stance on
military matters. But Mr. Kerry will almost certainly need to
do better among white men than Al Gore did in 2000, when 36 percent
voted for the Democratic nominee compared with 60 percent for
Mr. Bush. Yet if Mr. Kerry tries to woo the testosterone crowd,
he risks losing support from the party's base, including women
and minorities, said John B. Judis, co-author of "The Emerging
Democratic Majority" and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace.
know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's
decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line - cutting
deep into Palestinian areas. We don't need another barrier to
peace. Provocative and counterproductive measures only harm Israelis'
security over the long term, increase the hardships to the Palestinian
people, and make the process of negotiating an eventual settlement
that much harder."
security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense. No nation
can stand by while its children are blown up at pizza parlors
and in buses. While President Bush is rightly discussing with
Israel the exact route of the fence to minimize the hardship
it causes innocent Palestinians, Israel has a right and a duty
to defend its citizens. The fence only exists in response to
the wave of terror attacks against Israel."
TIMES DISPATCH - The first statement came from a speech to the
Arab American Institute in Michigan; the second appeared in the
Jerusalem Post one week before the New York primary. In both
cases the speaker was John Kerry.
MORE HARI KERRY
READ - The AP reports from its Kerry interview yesterday that
Kerry "grudgingly gave Bush and the Republican-controlled
Congress credit for creating 900,000 jobs this year, echoed the
administration's views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and
seconded Bush's decision to nominate Alan Greenspan for a fifth
term as chairman of the Federal Reserve."
HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK
- Kerry's theory of this campaign is pretty straightforward:
to be the guy people have no choice but to vote for on Nov. 2.
Not because he has a stirring new vision (he doesn't); not because
he's such a darned likable guy (he isn't); but because circumstances
are such that fair-minded "swing" voters have no choice
but to pick him. He's not running against the war, per se, but
as the nobleman at the end of the Shakespeare play, a beacon
of sanity on the battlefield.
An odd mixture of arrogance
and self-abnegation, Kerry is under no illusions that voters
will embrace him in a personal way. At a meeting with fund-raisers
in New York the other month, he declared that his goal was to
weather a wave of attacks and "preserve my acceptability."
There you have his strategy in its clinical glory: They don't
have to love me, they don't even have to like me. If I am in
the right place at the right time (and am "acceptable")
they will choose me.
ONION TRIES TO HELP THE KERRY
FRIENDLY TIP TO THE KERRY CAMPAIGN
DON'T EVEN THINK about
Wesley Clark as your vice president. He'll explode on you when
people find out how truly weird he is.
A Wonkette campaign trail operative gives us an observation about
Kerry's attempts to ape W.'s regular-guy demeanor with the press
corps: "He wants come over and kind of punch you in the
shoulder in a friendly way, but when he does it, he really punches
you. It hurts." And, added our operative, "He doesn't
actually talk to you. He just punches you in the shoulder."
PUSH TO EXTEND JOBLESS BENEFITS LOSES BY
ONE VOTE - KERRY'S
- A push by Senate Democrats to extend jobless benefits lost
by a single vote yesterday - as their nominee-to-be, John Kerry,
missed the vote while campaigning in Kentucky. Kerry, the only
senator to miss the vote, said he didn't come back to Washington
because "we were told that no matter what would happen,
[the Republicans] would change a vote in the Senate and they
were not going to let it happen." A bid to extend federal
jobless benefits for an extra 13 weeks failed by 59-40, one short
of the 60 votes needed because the cost would exceed last year's
Democrat voted to extend the benefits except for Kerry, who was
absent, and turncoat Zell Miller, who voted against it]
PLAN HAS GOOD AND BAD
WASHINGTON POST - During the discussion,
Kerry reiterated his proposal to offer small-business owners
a mix of tax breaks and government assistance in exchange for
their lowering the cost of health insurance for employees. Under
the Kerry plan, small-business owners would get a tax credit
to cover as much as 50 percent of the cost of providing coverage
to employees with incomes that are not more than 300 percent
of the poverty level. In 2003, a family of three making less
than $45,000 and a family of four making less than $54,000 would
have qualified if the Kerry plan were law, according to Sarah
Bianchi, the senator's policy director. Kerry would also allow
small-business owners to buy into the same health plan that covers
members of Congress and to receive a tax credit if they pick
up at least half of the cost for employees. Finally, Kerry said
he would seek to drive down coverage costs by taking catastrophic
medical costs -- $50,000 or more -- out of the private sector
and placing them on the government's tab.
The small business tax credit and allowing small businesses to
buy into Congress' own health plan.
Letting government take on the coverage of catastrophic medical
costs. This dramatically reduces the risk for insurance companies
without guaranteeing a commensurate reduction in insurance costs.
KERRY'S DOCTOR QUESTIONS SERIOUSNESS OF
YORK, NATIONAL REVIEW - Kerry was treated for the wound [that
won him the first of three Purple Hearts] at a medical facility
in Cam Ranh Bay. The doctor who treated Kerry, Louis Letson,
is today a retired general practitioner in Alabama. . . Letson
says that last year, as the Democratic campaign began to heat
up, he told friends that he remembered treating one of the candidates
many years ago. In response to their questions, Letson says,
he wrote down his recollections of the time. (Letson says he
has had no contacts with anyone from the Bush campaign or the
Republican party.) What follows is Letson's memory, as he wrote
have a very clear memory of an incident which occurred while
I was the Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh
Bay. John Kerry was a (jg), the OinC or skipper of a Swift boat,
newly arrived in Vietnam. On the night of December 2, he was
on patrol north of Cam Ranh, up near Nha Trang area. The next
day he came to sick bay, the medical facility, for treatment
of a wound that had occurred that night.
he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about
that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire
fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that
his injury resulted from this enemy action.
his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore,
but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some
rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused
by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck
the rocks.That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.
saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in
the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1
cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly
did not look like a round from a rifle.
removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with
forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did
not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia
to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.
was covered with a band aid. Not [sic] other injuries were reported
and I do not recall that there was any reported damage to the
INTO SOMEONE KNOWN in the trade as a "leading Democratic
operative," your editor was asked what he thought of the
campaign. I put forth my suggestion that the Democrats offer
John Kerry the Supreme Court chief justiceship and seek someone
who could win.
fascinating was that there was no argument, no anger, no dismissal,
only a question: who would you run instead?
I thought John Edwards was the logical choice but that the Dems
might want to check out their governors, especially since governors
didn't have foreign policy records the GOP could attack.
no argument or dismissal. . .
it occurred to me that the dark horse candidates might include
George Mitchell since Iraq seems to be turning into our North
Ireland and Mitchell knows something about the matter.
INTO A FORMER ARMY DOCTOR we were reminded of a little item in the
Kerry medical records about a non-specific urinary infection.
He pointed that there was a more common name for this: the clap.
On the other hand, one veteran notes that only officers have
non-specific urinary infections, enlisted men get the clap.
JOHN KERRY'S BUTLER
KERRY ORGANIZATION LACKING IN KEY STATES
LAMBRO, WASHINGTON TIMES - Sen. John Kerry has yet to establish
campaign organizations in battleground states that likely will
decide who wins the presidential race in November, Democratic
strategists said yesterday. The Democratic presidential candidate's
campaign has been almost invisible not only in pivotal states,
such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also in the South,
a region that some party strategists fear he will "write
off" to focus his resources elsewhere in the country, according
to Democratic officials.
campaign apparatus is nowhere to be seen in Michigan, a critical
Midwestern prize with 17 electoral votes that Democrat Al Gore
captured in 2000, but is now a neck-and-neck race where President
Bush has the edge in some polls, Democrats say. "It's dead
even here but there is almost no activity in the state"
from Mr. Kerry's campaign organization, said Michigan Democratic
pollster Ed Sarpolus.
of a Kerry ground organization at this point is in sharp contrast
to Mr. Bush's campaign, which has a state-by-state pyramidal
organization of precinct, county, state and regional volunteers
that already number in the hundreds of thousands across the country.
forgot to mention his wife's German Audi Quattro when listing
his parking lot contents to reporters in Michigan to proved how
America-made it was. Said a GOP official, "How many people
own so many cars that they can't remember them all?" . .
. Well, that's what he's got a butler for.
KERRY HITS CHENEY ON DRAFT
CHICAGO TRIBUNE - In a campaign unusually focused on the Vietnam
War, Sen. John Kerry trained his criticism on Vice President
Dick Cheney Tuesday, saying it is "inappropriate" for
Cheney to criticize his military service when he "got every
deferment in the world and decided he had better things to do."
after Cheney questioned Kerry's credibility on national security,
the Massachusetts senator went after the vice president--in addition
to President Bush--as he took his campaign bus tour from economically
depressed Youngstown to the shores of Lake Erie. Though Kerry
met with two unemployed people and stopped by a construction
site to greet workers here, the Democrat's focus shifted for
a second day in a row to questions of military service. . .
to 1966, Cheney received five deferments: four student deferments
while attending the University of Wyoming and one for having
a child. "I had other priorities in the '60s other than
military service," Cheney told a reporter in 1989. Kerry's
campaign also released a document posing nine "unanswered
questions" about Bush's service in the National Guard, asking
why he hasn't proved that he showed up for service in Alabama,
whether he received special treatment to get into the Guard,
and why he specifically requested not to be sent overseas, among
MAUREEN DOWD, NY TIMES - An incumbent
who sticks with the wrong decisions based on the wrong facts
versus a challenger who seems unable to stick to one side of
any decision, right or wrong . . . "
strategists seem to believe that the worse Mr. Bush makes things,
the better off he is, because nervous Americans will cling to
the obstinate president they know over the vacillating challenger
they don't know."
Kerry errs on the side of giving the answer he thinks people
want to hear, even as Mr. Bush errs on the side of giving the
answer he expects people to accept as true."
UH-OH, WE MAY
HAVE STARTED SOMETHING
DAYS AGO WE SUGGESTED that the Dems might find it convenient
down the pike to give John Kerry a chief justiceship on the Supreme
Court to get him to withdraw from the race. It looks like we
might have yelled, "Sex!" in a crowded and very bored
theater, to wit:
MICKEY KLAUS, SLATE - At what point
do Democrats begin to consider that they haven't nominated this
JAMES RIDGEWAY, VILLAGE VOICE - With the air
gushing out of John Kerry's balloon, it may be only a matter
of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread
reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn't have
what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of
it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols
know the party's got to have someone to run against George Bush.
They can't exactly expect the president to self-destruct into
issues over his wealth (which makes fellow plutocrat Bush seem
a charity case by comparison), the miasma over his medals and
ribbons (or ribbons and medals), his uninspiring record in the
Senate (yes war, no war), and wishy-washy efforts to mimic Bill
Clinton's triangulation gimmickry (the protractor factor), Kerry
sinks day by day. The pros all know that the candidate who starts
each morning by having to explain himself is a goner.
do? Look for the Dem biggies, whoever they are these days, to
sit down with the rich and arrogant presumptive nominee and try
to persuade him to take a hike. Then they can return to business
as usual- resurrecting John Edwards, who is still hanging around,
or staging an open convention in Boston, or both. If things proceed
as they are, the dim-bulb Dem leaders are going to be very sorry
they screwed Howard Dean.
PROGRESSIVE CASE FOR A KERRY VOTE
Henwood, who supported Nader in two previous elections, is going
with Kerry this time]
LEFT BUSINESS OBSERVER - There seems little alternative at the
moment; the best we can do is hope for a Kerry victory, and that
disillusionment will rapidly set in. After 1,200 days of the
George W. Bush presidency, it's difficult to say there's not
a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. Sure there
are plenty of similarities - deep agreement on the beauties of
capitalism and the rightness of U.S. power in the world. But,
as Noam Chomsky puts it, to the distress of many of his fans,
given the magnitude of U.S. power, "small differences can
translate into large outcomes."
probably truer of domestic than foreign policy. We're more likely
to see the privatization of Social Security and Medicare under
a second Bush administration, more likely to see the public schools
further privatized, more likely to see troglodytes appointed
to the NLRB or the federal courts, more attacks on civil liberties,
a Kerry administration is likely to be marginally less aggressive,
less likely to talk of pre-emptive war or the right to use nuclear
weapons, and more likely to be respectful of international institutions
(such as they are). There are also intangibles, like a better
discursive and organizing environment. It's better for radicals
when politics is about the guys in power not doing enough than
when it's about defending the social gains of the 20th century.
No matter how conservative a Democratic administration would
like to be, it still has to respond to some of the party's core
constituencies-like environmentalists, African-Americans, feminists,
and civil libertarians, a sharp contrast with creationists and
better when the air isn't filled with stupidity, arrogance, anti-intellectualism,
and covert or overt appeals to bigotry coming from the top. It's
good when the president isn't an ignoramus who thinks he's on
a divine appointment and the attorney general doesn't hold prayer
meetings and assemble anti-porn strike forces. . .
is now more hated than it's been in decades, maybe ever. Kerry
would probably work to repair this. A Democratic administration
would also police more vigilantly the departures from neo-liberalism
discussed in the last issue, like Argentina's admirable stiffing
of its private bondholders. It'd be a return to empire as usual,
which on balance would be a refreshing thing. . .
newsletter, which has from the beginning viewed the Democratic
Party as an obstacle to human progress, this is a difficult endorsement
to make. Making it easier is the knowledge that were Kerry to
win, he'd become the enemy on November 3. He is also likely to
be disappointing in many ways (disappointing to already low expectations),
which is a comfort. . .
it's going to require a giant clothespin to enter a polling booth.
LBO has quoted several times Garry Wills' explanation of why
the 1960s exploded: after years of liberals' saying things would
improve when Ike was replaced, when things didn't get much better
under JFK, a lot of people decided the System was the problem,
not party or personnel. Some similar disillusionment with Clinton
probably helped spark Seattle. It could happen again. Let's hope
HIGH GAS PRICES
FIRST READ - In a room of about 80 union workers yesterday, Kerry
was asked what he'll do about the high gas prices. His answer:
"This president said, and I'm not quoting him - not completely
- but paraphrasing - in the debates, in the year 2000 - in New
Hampshire, the then-Governor Bush was asked about gasoline prices.
He said what the President ought to do is be prepared to get
on the phone, and jawbone with OPEC and push them to produce
more and lower the prices. Now, this is an oilman speaking and
he supposedly knew what he was saying about it. You know what
- the four years he's been there he hasn't jawboned. He hasn't
jawboned in the last months and we just found out there there's
this big meeting with Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia - I don't
know if there's a deal or no deal - I don't know anything about
it except what I read, what Bob Woodward said but I'll tell you
this - we ought to be jawboning now. We ought to be raising that
production now, and the other thing that we can do and we can
do this - instead of diverting a whole lot of our crude to the
strategic petroleum reserve for a period of time - we should
divert that so it goes into the supply system so there's a greater
supply which reduces price and finally there are different additives
- standards about additives in gasoline. There are different
standards all around the country and in different states. We
need to try to work towards a uniformity because those different
standards raise the prices very significantly of what happens
in distribution nationally.
TRANSCRIPT OF KERRY WITH CHARLIE GIBSON
ON GMA CONFUSING MEDAL ISSUE EVEN FURTHER
NUANCE DISAPPEARS WHEN KERRY DISCUSSES ISRAEL
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, LA
TIMES - Terse isn't the first word usually applied to Sen. John
F. Kerry's disquisitions on foreign policy. At a town meeting
just before January's New Hampshire primary, Kerry wandered through
nearly five minutes of agonized ambivalence when a fellow Vietnam
veteran asked him why he supported the war in Iraq. . .
But Kerry was a model
of unambiguous concision the other day when he was asked about
Bush's meeting this month with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
. . Bush's meeting with Sharon seemed precisely the sort of unilateral,
headstrong gesture that Kerry has in mind when he accuses Bush
of pursuing the most arrogant and ideological foreign policy
in U.S. history. So jaws dropped across Washington when Kerry
responded with just one word after host Tim Russert asked him
on "Meet the Press" whether he supported Bush's promises
Not much ambiguity there.
Kerry probably hasn't answered an important question in so few
words since his wedding day.
KERRY CAMPAIGN SHORT ON MINORITIES
ETHNICS REDUCED TO 'COMMUNITY OUTREACH' POSTS
KERRY TRIES TO TRIANGULATE
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CONGRESSIONAL
QUARTERLY - Bill Clinton perfected the political art form known
as triangulation, a word coined by the flamboyant consultant
Dick Morris, who frequently advised the former president on the
wily ways of taking both sides of an issue and pointing them
toward the ideological center. . . John Kerry's first major attempt
at presidential campaign triangulation, on the other hand, looked
more like a crude sketch.
The presumed Democratic
nominee first signaled his pirouette on April 15 in New York
City, to a group of wealthy campaign donors. Declaring that he
is not a "redistribution Democrat" who would "make
the mistakes of the Democratic Party of 20, 25 years ago,"
the Massachusetts senator assured his supporters that he would
run to the ideological center.
That was Kerry's first mistake in trying to form the magical
three-sided political shape. The basic rule is to never let them
see you plotting your move. Don't say you're moving to the center.
Just do it.
Less than a week later,
Kerry chose to take his first centrist steps on a horribly complex
issue - and in a politically explosive state. He tried to have
it both ways on the environment here in Florida.
His invitation-only April
20 speech to Florida's top environmentalists does not bode well
for Kerry's efforts at triangulation. In trying to portray himself
as a pro-business environmentalist, he failed to avoid the pitfall
of internal contradiction that this approach can so easily generate.
While endorsing extremely
technical - and limited - environmental policies, Kerry called
himself an "entrepreneurial Democrat" who favors business
development and some offshore oil drilling. And he failed to
mention saving the Everglades, the top concern of Florida environmentalists.
The result of Kerry's appearance on Tampa Bay was a flock of
confused supporters, a mixed message to swing voters and a huge
opening for Bush to run to his left on a powerful issue.
"The largest unexplored
oil field in the world is actually the deep-water oil out in
the gulf," Kerry told his stunned environmental backers.
"Now, there is a capacity to protect what we have today,
the protections for the coast of Florida, and still be able to
drill in those locations where they're already permitted, already
had the environmental impact study, they already have the leases."
. . . "There are
some environmental issues in Florida where you cannot waffle
or equivocate," said former Audubon Society President Clay
Henderson, who was in the front row for Kerry's speech. "There
were some people who left the event wondering why the Everglades
was never mentioned and confused on Kerry's statement on offshore
The next day the Bush
re-election team pounced on Kerry's remarks. The president's
brother Jeb, Florida's Republican governor, swiftly condemned
Kerry for favoring offshore oil drilling. The Bush camp dispatched
the president to Florida for an environmental speech April 23.
Kerry managed to violate
a central tenet of triangulation: Whatever you do, do not end
up giving your opponent his own chance to move to the center.
NY POST - On Earth Day, Democrat John Kerry reluctantly
admitted to having a gas-guzzling SUV in the family - but blamed
his wife. "The family has it. I don't have it," Kerry
said yesterday. But at first, Kerry - quizzed by reporters on
a conference call - tried to deny any links to a gas-guzzler
on a day when he was touting his credentials as an environmentalist.
"I don't own an SUV," he initially insisted - but 'fessed
up when asked if his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry,
owned the Chevrolet Suburban seen at their Sun Valley ski lodge.
JOHN KERRY IS THE MOST
lackluster presidential candidate the Democrats have had since
Michael Dukakis. That he is their candidate is due in no small
part to Terry McAwful's successful efforts at frontloading the
Democratic primaries. If we were still happily engrossed in such
exercises in real democracy, where candidates have to go out
and actually meet voters rather than just spend tens of millions
on TV ads, Kerry would probably be fading now against a resurgent
John Edwards or even a dark horse candidate.
Further, the Democrats
would be getting considerably more free airtime because two or
more Democrats trying to beat the shit out of each other is inherently
more interesting than George Bush talking about God or terrorism.
Kerry's problems have
been submerged by a combination of factors including Bush's own
troubles in Iraq and before the 9/11 commission, and the media's
initial reverence towards anyone who has just won anything. But
already, as Meet the Press showed, this is wearing thin and the
brutal fact that Kerry has a lot of explaining to do - not just
about his positions but about his repeatedly touted heroism -
has become apparent. Just this morning, even the ever so cautious
CSPAN joined the questioning with a disgruntled fellow Vietnam
veteran berating Kerry.
Worse, there's been a
strange silence about Kerry's virtues even from his most stolid
supporters. Governor Bill Richardson on Don Imus tried to make
the best of Kerry's MTP appearance but just ended up sounding
as unconvincing as the candidate. And the Boston Globe's Derrick
Z. Jackson writes about a Kerry fundraising letter:
"What was striking
about the letter was that the entire first page was about how
Bush misleads, but not a single sentence about how Kerry would
lead. Even as Bush flounders in self-righteousness, you have
to wonder if the ABB (Anybody But Bush) crowd is lulling themselves
into a reverse trap. . .
"The reality is there
is a core on folks on the right who believe Bush is an appointed
guardian of unilateral American might. There is a core of people
on the left who believe Bush is still not their president. But
if it was so obvious to Americans outside the elite east and
the Bay Area that Bush was a scoundrel, then the polls should
not be merely even - Kerry should be ahead by a landslide."
And that's the problem.
If there's any time that Kerry should be showing strength it's
right now. Bush is on the ropes and still ahead on points. Meanwhile,
Kerry appears to be intensifying his search for the extremist
middle, witness this description by Jim VandeHei of the Washington
"As he prepares for
the most ambitious and defining phase of his presidential candidacy,
Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) is relying on image-makers schooled
in traditional Kennedy liberalism to sell himself anew to voters
as a 21st-century centrist Democrat, a muscular hawk on national
defense and deficits. . .
"It is Shrum's word
and Kiley's polling data and Donilon's ads shaping a soon-to-be-released
media campaign introducing Kerry to voters in battleground states.
But it is Mary Beth Cahill, campaign manager and another longtime
adviser to Kennedy, calling the final shots and overseeing the
"Their lofty mission:
to set aside a long-running feud within the Democratic Party
over its direction to position Kerry as the presidential candidate
who is pro-national defense, pro-middle-class tax cuts, pro-balanced
budgets -- with the rhetorical dash and inspiration of John F.
Kennedy, a hero to Kerry and many of his top aides.
"For instance, Kerry
and his advisers seek to blend a traditional populist rant against
big corporations with policies designed, in part, to placate
business -- such as his across-the-board tax break for corporations.
"Although most of
Kerry's top aides were trained to fight for a bigger, more activist
government, they are evolving with the candidate and the party.
'The best people, the best thinkers, generally adapt with a change
in circumstance,' Cahill said."
Note that, according to
the Washington Post paradigm, one 'evolves' away from more activist
government towards the miasma of the mushy middle. As for the
"the rhetorical dash and inspiration of John F. Kennedy,"
VandeHei and the aforementioned staffers are probably the only
people in the county who would expect that of Kerry.
So what's to be done?
The rules of the game pretty well handcuff the Democrats to Kerry
even if he continues to muddle along. The only possible out would
be if those running the party were to take him aside and promise
him the first seat (or chief justicehood) on the Supreme Court
should the party win. His ego would be far less challenged and
much more comfortable there anyway.
Otherwise, it seems it's
pretty much up to George Bush, the Israelis, Iraqis, bin Laden
and the stock market to decide this election. - SAM SMITH
KERRY WITH THE YOUNG
ANYA KAMENETZ, VILLAGE
VOICE - Judging from Wednesday's performance, John Kerry is not
all that interested in playing to young voters. Senator Hillary
Clinton, greeted with a standing ovation, introduced the presumptive
Democratic nominee, ticking off a long list of his accomplishments
in the Senate: the fight for Vietnam P.O.W.'s and M.I.A.'s, the
investigations into Iran Contra and BCCI, and a crusade against
irresponsible fiscal policies. All important, none relevant to
a college student today.
Then Kerry gave 15 minutes
of his standard stump speech: tax-code reform, outsourcing, Social
Security, and Medicare. "Let's think about the worker who's
45 or 50 years old who's lost his job, lost his health insurance,"
he exhorted the crowd of twenty-somethings, many of whom work
two or even three jobs to pay their way through school. The senator
didn't talk about his proposed $4,000 tuition tax credit, maybe
because it goes to parents who pay tuition, not students who
shoulder the debt. . .
No candidate would go
to a senior center and give a lecture about Head Start. . . The
tone-deafness was all the more puzzling since this was absolutely
a crowd that wanted to be on Kerry's side. . . Yet Kerry bypassed
obvious points of connection with his audience, mentioning tuition
hikes only briefly and never referring specifically to the 25
percent increase CUNY students got last year along with budget
cuts. . .
One audience member at
City College, introduced as a 23-year-old social service worker
from Chicago, asked Kerry, "How do we get young people involved
in politics, since it's not a sexy thing?" "I think
it's sexy," answered a smiling Kerry. He talked about John
F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps, and his own national-service plan,
seemingly content to use young people as a scenic backdrop for
his nostalgia-rooted campaign. He figures the kids should be
satisfied with an appeal to idealism, as he was in his privileged
youth, and not be so rude as to ask what's in it for them.