Man Without Qualities

Monday, July 26, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose: How Liberal Is John Kerry?

USA Today publishes a curious little box asking "How liberal is John Kerry?" and purporting to summarize the evidence pro and con (with the assumption that being a "liberal" is a very bad thing). The "pro-liberal" factors all make sense:

Evidence that he's liberal:

Supports abortion rights.

Opposes the death penalty except for terrorists.

Was one of only 14 senators who opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, which says states do not have to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states.

Is an environmentalism who threatened a filibuster to block drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Called the 2001 Bush tax cuts that went mostly to the wealthy "unfair, unaffordable and unquestionably ineffective" to improve the economy.

Opposes a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning.

Voted against authorizing the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
But things get very strange with the other column - the one labeled "On The Other Hand." Following is a reproduction of that column with notes describing Senator Kerry's relationship to the factor:

On the other hand:

Helped write the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law to restrain federal spending. [Senator Kerry now proposes huge increases in federal spending or tax subsidies, including a massive health-care program costing at least $600 Billion over ten years. He also seems to contemplate huge tax increases - which is apparently supposed to justify his claim to being a "fiscal conservative."]

Proposed legislation to end teacher tenure, which angered teacher unions. [Senator Kerry has long utterly repudiated that position and that legislation. Today, Kerry once again espouses pure Democratic dogma on education. His Web site pledges to "stop blaming and start supporting public school educators," vowing to give them "better training and better pay, with more career opportunities, more empowerment and more mentors." It doesn't mention seniority or tenure.]

Voted in 1993 for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which unions opposed. [Senator Kerry repeated his pledge this month to review trade accords in his first 120 days as president and said he wants to change treaties so companies can't challenge environmental and health regulations. The change would limit a company's ability to sue other nations to recover lost investments. He is now alienating U.S. companies such as Harken Energy Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. with his plans to limit their rights under international trade agreements.]

Criticized affirmative action in 1992 for fostering a culture of dependency. [Senator Kerry has long utterly repudiated this position and now fully endorses broad affirmative action.]

Supported the overhaul of welfare in 1996 that added a work component. [After being relentlessly pounded by Mr. Weld throughout the first half of 1996 for voting against two conference reports containing real welfare-reform plans in 1995, Senator Kerry reversed years of hostile opposition to welfare reform and finally supported the 1996 bill - but only in the face of losing his entire political career. His vote probably saved his political career, but was clearly inconsistent with his most deeply held beliefs. More than anything else, the need to save his political career explains why he cast that vote. John Kerry spent years fighting real reform and strongly supported Mr. Clinton when he vetoed two solid, Republican-initiated welfare-reform plans in late 1995 and early 1996. Senator Kerry revealed his aggressive hostility to welfare reform in 1988. Then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole introduced a "workfare" amendment. The Dole amendment would have required -- by 1994, six years later -- at least one parent in a two-parent household receiving welfare to work a minimum of 16 hours per week. By any standard of toughness, this was a very weak requirement. But it proved to be too draconian for the liberal standards of Mr. Kerry, who voted against the amendment, which passed with bipartisan support. During Senate debate, he complained that the 1988 welfare-reform bill "contains provisions troublesome to me, such as the 16-hour weekly work requirement for two-parent families." During his 1996 Senate re-election campaign Senator Kerry opposed the work requirement for two-parent welfare families because he favored work requirements for single-parent families. Having voted against the workfare amendment in 1988, Senator Kerry in 1992 opposed "learnfare," a reform that would have permitted states to withhold welfare benefits from parents whose children failed to attend school regularly. Two years later, his hostility to reform continued. In 1994 Senator Kerry introduced two amendments to a Senate welfare-reform bill that would guarantee to continue to "provide Supplemental Security Income benefits to persons who are disabled by reason of drug or alcohol abuse" despite scandals in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. During the 1995 welfare-reform debate, Mr. Kerry voted against the "family cap" provision, which would have prohibited states from raising a welfare recipient's cash benefits for having additional children while collecting welfare. He also voted against an amendment that would have required most able-bodied, non-elderly food-stamp recipients to work 10 hours a week. Mr. Kerry eventually voted against the 1995 welfare conference report. After fighting in 1994 for SSI benefits for crack addicts, in 1996 Mr. Kerry voted against random drug-testing programs for welfare recipients. He also opposed an amendment with bipartisan support that would deny welfare benefits to legal immigrants. In yet another vote to encourage immigrants to go on the dole, he voted to delay for two years a provision that would have denied Medicaid benefits to immigrants for five years.]

Opposed liberal positions in Senate showdowns on missile defense and procurement of F/A-18 Navy fighters. [It is true that John Kerry has voted for omnibus defense appropriations bills that contained provisions which he had actually opposed - and once opposed a particular amendment that would have cut a few F/A-18 Navy fighters. That means very little. Senator Kerry has, in fact, been a consistent opponent of most advanced weapons programs. As Joshua Muravchik noted in the Washington Post: As leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Kerry accused American soldiers of "war crimes . . . committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." ... As a first major foreign policy cause, he championed the "nuclear freeze." ... The litany of weapons systems that Kerry opposed included conventional as well as nuclear equipment: the B-1 bomber, the B-2, the F-15, the F-14A, the F-14D, the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Patriot missile, the Aegis air-defense cruiser and the Trident missile. And he sought to reduce procurement of the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile and the F-16 jet. ... When U.S. troops intervened in Grenada, Kerry denounced the action as "a bully's show of force." ...[H]e made himself one of the Senate's most vigorous opponents of aiding the anti-Communist contras as a means of pressuring Nicaragua's Sandinista regime. ... When Saddam Hussein swallowed up Kuwait in 1990, Kerry voted against authorizing the use of force. ... By 1995, with the death toll there estimated to have reached a quarter-million, Congress voted to end the arms embargo hamstringing the beleaguered Bosnians. Kerry was one of 29 senators who opposed this resolution. ... He now says that some of his stands against weapons systems were "stupid." And those medals he tossed away in protest, he explains, actually belonged to someone else.]

Voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. [Senator Kerry says he didn't construe his vote as authorizing an invasion of Iraq and, in any event, didn't have correct and full information on which to base his vote. In effect he has repudiated his vote while saying he does not regret that vote at all. of course, Kerry did vote for the invasion, but he rolled out a murky explanation afterwards that he meant to only threaten military action. And, of course, he famously voted against that $87 Billion bill to finance the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan (after first voting for it).]
It is more than passing strange that Senator Kerry has a severely compromised relationship to every single one of the factor cited by USA Today to support the possibility that he is not thoroughly "liberal?"

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