- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

As John Kerry adds new primary notches to his campaign belt, it is increasingly possible that he will be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer. What every voter needs to try to figure out is what he stands for and whether or not his long voting record and behavior as a public official foreshadow how he would govern from the White House. With a pattern of self-contradictory statements, unscrambling what Mr. Kerry might actually believe is no easy task.

Bringing national attention to this side of the Democratic front-runner’s character was an article by Michael Isikoff in the current issue of Newsweek. It reports that while Mr. Kerry promoted campaign-finance reform and regularly attacks the Bush campaign and Republicans for raising campaign cash through special interests, the senator has raised much of the $30 million for his Senate campaigns through soft money from big donors. More than 10 percent came from financial institutions that have business before the Senate Finance Committee, on which Mr. Kerry serves.

After the September 11 attacks, Mr. Kerry said, “The single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence,” and he has since criticized the Bush administration for intelligence failures. The broken apparatus he bemoans is partially the result of his votes to gut intelligence agencies. In 1995, for example, he voted twice to cut intelligence spending, once by $1.5 billion over five years. Over the last year, Mr. Kerry has said that President Bush misled the country before going to war in Iraq and has been harsh in attacking the administration for not seeking more international cooperation. In 1997, however, the senator claimed that military force was needed to destroy Saddam Hussein’s “suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction,” even if the United States would be “acting alone.”

The same inconsistency applies to Mr. Kerry’s economic positions. Two years ago, referring to Mr. Bush’s tax relief, he said that Congress “passed appropriately a tax cut as a stimulus, some $40 billion. Many of us thought it should have even maybe been a little bit larger this last year.” He later said there should be no more tax cuts. He has attacked big spending under the Bush administration, but has voted against the Balanced Budget Amendment at least five times, and has voted with super-liberal Sen. Teddy Kennedy on 94 percent of all votes during his entire career.

The Democratic Party’s establishment destroyed the candidacy of Howard Dean because he was perceived as an outside threat to the Beltway machinery. The attacks on Mr. Kerry come from equally liberal quarters: the media. Reporters have a sixth sense for hypocrisy and are giving no quarter to Mr. Kerry’s record. Most of the unflattering in-depth research on him is not coming from Republicans but from reliably liberal journals such as the New Republic, the Atlantic, Slate and the New York Times. It is still to be seen if the liberal candidate can stand up to liberal scrutiny.

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