Alexander's Column

Will the real JFK please stand up?

Mark Alexander · Mar. 5, 2004

Just who is John Forbes Kerry, the presumed Democrat presidential nominee? His answer, of course, depends on who is asking. Like so many Leftists, John Kerry is a case study in hypocrisy.

Kerry, the meticulously coiffed inheritance-welfare playboy, professes to be an Everyday Joe, a populist man of the people. Kerry, the Vietnam “war hero” who shamelessly surrounds himself with a “band of brothers” at every campaign stop, once cuddled with Hanoi Jane Fonda and has since opposed nearly every defense- and intelligence-spending program during his Senate tenure. Kerry, the self-described moderate whose rise to political power began under the tutelage of Teddy Kennedy, was recently named “Most Liberal Senator” by the National Journal, with a composite score of 96.5. All told, John Kerry’s representation of his record – his life, in fact – leaves one longing for a Democrat candidate with the unimpeachable honesty of Bill Clinton. Indeed, Friend of The Federalist James Taranto recently dubbed Senator Kerry “Dukakis without the integrity.”

As Federalist No. 04-04 noted, “Kerry, whose campaign appeared moribund just three weeks ago, is now the new-and-improved front-runner of the Demo pack. At first blush, he appears to be a "package” candidate for Demo voters – the military veteran who was, and remains, an Ivy-league anti-war protestor; the consummate insider who’s acting like an outsider; the Senate’s wealthiest member (he married well and his middle name is “Forbes” after all) who’s acting like a homeless advocate; and the terrorism dove who’s taunting our wartime president to “bring it on.” Basically, Kerry is running against his own record – he’s against NAFTA but voted for it, he’s against the USA Patriot Act but voted for it, he’s against Operation Iraqi Freedom but voted for it, etc.“

The Kerry campaign insists on keeping his Vietnam record front-and-center. According to his website, "When John Kerry returned home from Vietnam, he joined his fellow veterans in vowing never to abandon future veterans of America’s wars. Kerry’s commitment to veterans has never wavered and stands strong to this day.”

Is that right!

John Kerry may have served with distinction in Vietnam. He did receive a Silver Star after beaching his Swift Boat and chasing a loin-clothed young boy (who was thought to possess a rocket launcher) around the corner of a hut and killing him. (If nothing else, this serves to remind us that war is indeed an ugly business – and that enemy combatants aren’t always attired in combat fatigues.) He also collected three Purple Hearts (though today there is little or no evidence of his wounds received).

Upon his return home, however, Kerry abandoned each and every one of his fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines on the ground in Vietnam – not to mention the people of South Vietnam – by fomenting wartime discord. In his now infamous 1971 testimony before Congress, Kerry said American soldiers were war criminals, claiming they “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs … poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.”

Kerry went on: “I personally didn’t see personal atrocities in the sense I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that. However, I did take part in free-fire zones, I did take part in harassment and interdiction fire, I did take part in search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground, and all of these acts, I find out later on, are contrary to The Hague and Geneva conventions and to the laws of warfare. So in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the application of the Nuremberg Principles, is in fact guilty.”

Kerry’s protests and testimony did little more than aid and abet the Viet Cong, and his support for Communists did not end in 1971. In fact, it was Kerry who, years later, founded the Senate Select Committee for POW/MIA Affairs with the objective of normalizing relations and trade with the Vietnamese government and ending speculation about MIAs that were captive in Vietnam long after the cease-fire accord. As recently as 2002, Kerry even blocked the Vietnam Human Rights Act from coming to a vote.

And the rest of Kerry’s congressional voting record is no better.

Massachusetts’s most liberal senator – check that, America’s most liberal senator – has, over the years, voted against defense-appropriations bills funding weapons that have proved essential to U.S. national security, including the Patriot Missile, the Tomahawk cruise missile and the B-2 stealth bomber. Kerry’s voting record also shows his support for cutting funding or altogether canceling existing weapons systems such as the M-1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Apache helicopter, B-1 Bomber, F-14, F-15, F-16 and AV-8B Harrier. Kerry also voted against the Navy’s Aegis Air Defense Cruiser and Trident Missile System for U.S. submarines.

The Center for Security Policy, a conservative Washington-based think tank committed to “promoting international peace through American strength,” has rated Kerry among the worst on Capitol Hill when it comes to national security and defense. In 1995, the Center gave Kerry a score of five out of a possible 100 points. Two years later, Kerry earned a mind-blowing score of exactly zero.

It stands to reason, then, that Kerry has voted against the strategic missile-defense shield, as well as U.S. withdrawal from the antiquated Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: But while these votes have clearly inhibited U.S. security, Kerry has cast two votes in the past ten years to loosen restrictions on the export of dual-use technology – the sort of technology that enemies of the United States can convert into weapons and turn against us.

So much for the Massachusetts senator’s commitment to the war on terrorism.

True to his Vietnam-era sympathies, John Kerry became one of President Ronald Reagan’s most outspoken opponents regarding the policy of militarily suppressing Communist inroads in Latin America. His opposition culminated in a controversial April, 1985, visit to Nicaragua and its Sandinista regime.

Following the Cold War, Kerry’s doveliness continued unabated. Following Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait in 1990, Kerry voted against authorization for the use of force – which was more than could be said for Saddam Hussein. In 1995, Kerry was among 29 other senators who voted against ending the arms embargo against the Bosnians, even as Slobodan Milosevic escalated his reign of terror.

Concerning the authorization for the use of force against Iraq last year, however, Senator Kerry had this to say on 23 January 2003: “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime … He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation … And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction … So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real….”

Kerry now says he believes the war was a mistake, and that he voted to authorize the threat of force, but not the actual use of it. (We at The Federalist can’t help but wonder about the seriousness of a post-9/11 presidential candidate so loath to make good on a threat. Kerry’s approach won’t strike fear into the heart of a schoolyard bully, much less that of a brutal dictator or a murderous band of Jihadist thugs.)

More recently, we note the senator’s whiny, thin-skinned response to questions raised over his defense voting record by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss – questions utterly appropriate to anyone aspiring to be commander-in-chief: “[The President has] decided once again to take the low road of American politics. … Saxby Chambliss, on the part of the president and his henchmen, decided today to question my commitment to the defense of our nation….” And again, when responding to similar queries: “I’d like to know what it is Republicans who didn’t serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did.” Wait a minute – you mean John Kerry actually served in Vietnam? Who knew?

Finally, earlier this week Kerry breathed life into the conspiracy theory of a U.S.-led coup against erstwhile Leftist darling and Haitian president/autocrat Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resigned and fled to Africa early last Sunday morning. Following Aristide’s departure, Kerry remarked, “I think there should be some investigation of it. I have a very close friend in Massachusetts who talked directly to people who made that allegation [of a U.S.-led coup]. I don’t know the truth of it. I really don’t. But I think it needs to be explored and we need to know the truth of what happened.”

So let’s get this straight: Kerry admits he doesn’t “know the truth of it,” yet he’s calling for an investigation because he’s got a friend back home who talked to someone who says that the President of the United States ordered the kidnapping of a foreign leader.

This is the best the Democrat Party can offer for President?

Quote of the week…

“They don’t know John Kerry’s record. … He is the Olympic gold medalist when it comes to special-interest money. … I also think that he is very vulnerable on the issues of national security. If you look at his voting record, it is terrible as far as it comes to national defense and helping fund a good intelligence unit.” –Senator Zell Miller, the Georgia Democrat who’s campaigning against Kerry for a second Bush term

Open query for Kerry…

“Other than denoting your disapproval, what does the adjective mean in the phrase ‘special interest’? Is the National Education Association a special interest? The AFL-CIO?… Is the National Rifle Association a ‘special interest’? Is ‘special’ a synonym for ‘conservative’? … When you denounce ‘lobbyists’ do you include those for Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club? Is ‘liberal lobbyist’ an oxymoron?… On Jan. 11, 1991, you said that going to war was abandoning ‘the theory of deterrence.’ Was it not a tad late to deter Iraqi aggression? The next day you said, ‘I do not believe our nation is prepared for war.’ How did unpreparedness subsequently manifest itself? … On Jan. 22, 1991, responding to a constituent opposed to the Gulf War, you wrote ‘I share your concerns’ and would have given sanctions more time. Nine days later, responding to a voter who favored the war, you wrote, ‘I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush’s response to the crisis.’ Did you have a third position?… You oppose immediate termination of U.S. involvement in Iraq, and you opposed the $87 billion to pay for involvement. Come again? In 1994, the year after the first attack on the World Trade Center, you voted to cut $1 billion from counter-terrorism activities. In 1995 you proposed a $1.5 billion cut in intelligence funding. Are you now glad that both proposals were defeated?” –George Will, “A Few Questions for John Kerry”

Snap shots…

“I think it is entirely possible [the extramarital affair by Clinton] was a distraction that kept him from performing his duty as president.” –John Kerry, September 2001

“If anything, there may now be a greater appreciation for the trouble you can get into for certain behavior. More parents are teaching their children about lying, about humiliation, about family hurt, about public responsibility, than before we ever heard the name of Monica Lewinsky.” –John Kerry, February, 1999

“The country does not believe the fiber of our nation is unraveling over the President’s egregious behavior, because most people have a sense of proportion about the case that seems totally lacking in the House managers’ presentation. No parent or school in America is teaching kids that lying or abusing the justice system is now OK….Democrats were very sophisticated in making a distinction between the policies and personal behavior of President Clinton.” –John Kerry during the Clinton impeachment proceedings