Monday, February 16, 2004

John Kerry's Fuzzy Numbers

Adam Schultz in a February 11th Tufts Daily Op-Ed and The Washington Post in its February 14th editorial ask a reasonable question, "So, what does the junior Senator from Massachusetts, and the presumed Democratic nominee, stand for?" The Washington Post:

He says he opposes gay marriage, yet voted against the federal Defense of Marriage act. He voted for the North American Free Trade agreement yet now talks in protectionist terms, promising he will provide American workers "a fair playing field" while accusing Mr. Bush of "selling them out." Would a President Kerry seek additional free trade agreements in Latin America and elsewhere? What's his position on whether his own state should adopt a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage? So far, the answers aren't clear.

The most important confusion surrounds Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq. In 1991 he voted against the first Persian Gulf War, saying more support was needed from Americans for a war that he believed would prove costly. In 1998, when President Clinton was considering military steps against Iraq, he strenuously argued for action, with or without allies. Four years later he voted for a resolution authorizing invasion but criticized Mr. Bush for not recruiting allies. Last fall he voted against funding for Iraqi reconstruction, but argued that the United States must support the establishment of a democratic government.

Mr. Kerry's attempts to weave a thread connecting and justifying all these positions are unconvincing. He would do better to offer a more honest accounting. His estimation of the cost of expelling Iraq from Kuwait in 1991 was simply wrong; and if President Bush was mistaken to think in 2003 that there was an urgent need to stop Saddam Hussein from stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Kerry made the same error in 1998.

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