1.31.2004

POLITICS - All Eyez On Kerry part I

A couple days ago I mentioned that I would post a little about the pending attacks on John Kerry's record. I don't want to be in the position of responding to every attack on every Dem candidate, but I do think that us lifelong Dems should defend our best candidates against unscrupulous personal attacks.

When I sat down to write this post, I came across this article in the National Journal about the Top 10 issues where Kerry will face attacks. Read This Article. It will give you a good idea of Kerry's many nuanced positions.

While there's way too much to pull out and quote, here are a couple nuggets about Kerry that haven't been highlighted in the media or the debates. Since this article fairly examines the areas where Kerry will be attacked, I'll put off my planned post for a day or two. In particular, I'd like to look at his stance on the Gulf Wars, the global war on terror, and his insatiable lust for botox. But let's just look at this article and establish the ground rules a bit (since this is the weekend, I think I'll add a couple snarky notes for fun!)
War -
Kerry's national security issues coordinator, Rand Beers, worked on the National Security Council under Reagan, Bush I, Bill Clinton, and Bush II ("three Republicans, one Democrat," Beers noted) before resigning in protest over Iraq. "The group that is advising Kerry," said Jon Wolfsthal, a former Clinton official and one of those advisers, "is firmly grounded in traditional, internationalist, bipartisan foreign policy."
[...]
But Beers bristles at the idea that his man is a mere mushy mainstreamer: "You're trying to fit John Kerry in boxes," he protested. To be sure, in one key area, Kerry was well ahead of the mainstream. In leading investigations into the shadowy global webs of the BCCI scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and the Contra-drugs connection, and in authoring a 1997 book, The New War, "Kerry began focusing on transnational threats -- drugs, terrorism, proliferation -- [years before] 9/11," said Beers. Kerry's anti-money-laundering legislation, a key weapon against terror groups, was incorporated into the USA PATRIOT Act. His plan of attack as president would emphasize international law enforcement and intelligence rather than unilateral military action. Kerry is betting that his nuanced approach will outperform Bush's crusades -- and despite its ambiguities, will resonate with voters.

(This will be Kerry's toughest battle. The Repubs control the language of this particular debate. Kerry needs to flip the script and point out that Bush stated in the SOTU that we need to use the Patriot Act to pursue terrorists like criminals. Kerry (and the Dems) have to point out that this was the Clinton policy. The war on terror is primarily a legal battle, to be supplemented by the military. Bush can't use the military to prevent Al Qaeda from attending flight schools in Florida. Bush can't use the military to pursue international money launderers. Bush can't use the military alone to promote democracy in the Middle East. If the Dems can control the language of the debate on terror, they'll win the war of rhetoric. )
East Coast Liberal -
He was a leader in the effort to put 100,000 cops on the streets, for example, and, as a prosecutor, he sent people to jail for life. He was also one of the first Democrats to show concern about government red ink by backing the 1985 Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction law. Kerry also supported welfare-reform legislation in 1996 -- a measure that many liberals loathed.

Still, Kerry's record provides plenty of ammunition for critics who charge him with reflexively backing liberal social legislation. They point to his repeated votes against banning so-called "partial birth" abortion; his opposition to the death penalty; his vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman; as well as his support for higher taxes, especially higher gas taxes.

(Yes, there are critics who dislike liberal social legislation. There are also millions of Americans who support this legislation. 99% of Americans, including conservatives, want decent public education, assistance with health care, and equal rights. Yes, there are some peripheral debates, but Americans want liberal legislation. There is no question about it. Conservatives will continue to slander liberalism, but I wonder if that rhetoric continues to hold favor with the American public. I'm not sure that it does anymore. Especially when the Bush Administration is now back-pedaling on Iraq WMD threat, and now want us to believe that we invaded Iraq (and sacrificed 500+ of our citizens) for one of the purest liberal causes in history, the spread of democracy and human rights. )


Environment -
Critics say that although Kerry's strong environmental positions may play well in New England and in a handful of states elsewhere, they will hurt him in a national campaign. "I think his appeal west of the Adirondacks to the general electorate is significantly less than that of Michael Dukakis," said Myron Ebell, an analyst with the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. "He has a lot of left-wing baggage, particularly on the environment."

Kerry's proposals to crack down on energy companies and to protect federal lands could also energize Bush's core business supporters and attract more industry money to the Republican campaign. As an oil-industry lobbyist put it: "John Kerry isn't a friend of the industry."

(Heh. Does Bush want to use that line in one of his commercials?
"John Kerry isn't a friend of the oil industry. But George W. Bush was raised with oil lobbyists in his cradle. Please America. Vote for the candidate who consistently sells his principles to the highest amount of oil money. Vote George. W. Bush in 2004."
I think that this "left-wing baggage" is going to look pretty nice once the public realizes that global warming is such a serious threat that the Pentagon is about to release a report documenting the pending concerns. This sounds like "right-wing" baggage to me. A lot of it.)

Friend of Lobbyists -
During his Senate career, Kerry has irked segments of K Street on various occasions: He has co-sponsored legislation that would mandate higher fuel-efficiency standards for autos, including gas-guzzling SUVs; rejected contributions from political action committees; and generally backed the expensing of stock options. Kerry, who teamed with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on the unsuccessful fuel-efficiency effort, has also worked with the Arizonan on other bills that have riled corporate lobbyists. One example: a measure that would terminate dozens of inequitable corporate subsidies. A lobbyist calls Kerry, who sits on the Senate Finance panel and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, a leader in this area with "constructive ideas."

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