- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 8, 2004

Ever since John Kerry won his Massachusetts Senate seat amid former President Reagan’s 49-state landslide in 1984, he has acted as a virtual clone of Massachusetts’ senior senator, Edward Kennedy. Indeed, based on its annual statistical analysis of congressional voting patterns on economic, foreign-policy and social issues, the authoritative, nonpartisan National Journal has crowned Mr. Kerry the Senate’s most liberal member twice in the 1980s, once in the 1990s and, most recently, in 2003.

In a previous editorial, The Washington Times reviewed the annual ratings that various interest groups assigned to the voting records of Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Kerry and Kennedy. Those organizations included the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, the American Conservative Union, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Conservation Voters, the AFL-CIO, the Concord Coalition, the National Taxpayers Union and the Christian Coalition.

For all practical purposes, the ratings were identical. The same conclusion can be drawn from an examination of the voting patterns of Messrs. Kerry and Kennedy on the annual lists of “key votes” that are carefully selected by Congressional Quarterly and National Journal’s “Almanac of American Politics.”

Each year CQ identifies about 15 “key votes.” From 1985, when Mr. Kerry entered the U.S. Senate, through 2003, CQ has selected 270 “key votes.” Mr. Kennedy has cast a vote on 268 of them. For five of the 268, Mr. Kerry neither voted nor publicly announced a position. That leaves 263 Kennedy votes that can be compared with Mr. Kerry’s positions. Mr. Kerry voted with Mr. Kennedy on 235 of those “key votes,” and he announced a position identical with Mr. Kennedy’s votes on eight others. On just 20 of Mr. Kennedy’s 263 votes did Mr. Kerry cast a vote different from Mr. Kennedy’s.

In sum, Mr. Kerry agreed with Mr. Kennedy’s votes on 92.4 percent of CQ’s “key votes” from 1985 through 2003. Moreover, in five of the last six years, Mr. Kerry has not differed with Mr. Kennedy on a single CQ-designated “key vote.” Regarding the two votes from 2002 where the two differed — the use of force against Iraq and passage of the Andean free-trade agreement — Mr. Kerry has effectively repudiated both of his votes, bringing him in line with Mr. Kennedy 100 percent of the time over the past six years.

The National Journal has identified 108 “key votes” spanning 18 years, beginning with the 99th Congress (1985-1986) and ending with the 107th (2001-2002). Mr. Kennedy has voted on 106 of them. On 98 of those votes, Mr. Kerry agreed with Mr. Kennedy. That’s 92.5 percent of the time. For his first 16 years in the Senate, Mr. Kerry was in sync with Mr. Kennedy on 96 percent of National Journal’s “key votes.”

The conclusion is unassailable: A vote for John Kerry is virtually indistinguishable from a vote for Ted Kennedy and all of the left-wing baggage that he carries.

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