- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 19, 2004

In discussing the vice presidency on several occasions with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who rejected the entreaties, John Kerry proved how deeply ingrained his propensity to flip-flop truly is. To enhance his chances of capturing the White House, Mr. Kerry demonstrated that he was prepared to sacrifice virtually every idea he holds dear by placing Mr. McCain a single heartbeat from the presidency.

Let us be clear: For all of Mr. McCain’s maverick tendencies, his conservative credentials are nearly as impeccable as the liberal credentials of Mr. Kerry, whose 2003 voting record, according to the nonpartisan, authoritative National Journal, established him as the Senate’s most liberal member that year.

Indeed, interest groups across the political spectrum select congressional votes on issues that concern their members and regularly issue voting ratings for each member of Congress. Consider the lifetime ratings Messrs. Kerry and McCain have received from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the conservative American Conservative Union (ACU). On a scale of zero to 100, ADA reports a 92 lifetime rating for Mr. Kerry (two points higher than Teddy Kennedy’s) and a lifetime ADA rating of nine for Mr. McCain. Compared to an 84 ACU lifetime rating for Mr. McCain, Mr. Kerry’s is five. Regarding the American Civil Liberties Union, in their last three rating periods, which cumulatively covered six years, Mr. McCain averaged zero and Mr. Kerry averaged nearly 75. Moreover, while Messrs. Kerry and McCain both opposed the 2001 conference report for the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut (Mr. McCain did, however, vote for the Senate’s pre-conference $1.35 trillion tax cut), it’s worth considering their latest ratings (2001-2002) from the National Tax-Limitation Committee (NTLC), whose mission is “dedicated to constitutionally limiting taxes, spending and the size and growth of government.” For that two-year period, Mr. Kerry’s NTLC rating was three, and Mr. McCain’s was 67.

There are reasons why Mr. Kerry’s ratings are generally diametrically opposite Mr. McCain’s. They regularly vote in opposite directions, a fact that is readily apparent from a review of hundreds of “key votes” they have cast as senators. For each two-year Congress, National Journal’s biennial Almanac of American Politics and Congressional Quarterly’s biennial Politics in America select 12 to 20 key votes. Consider these stark differences:

• Impeachment: Mr. McCain voted to convict then-President Clinton on both impeachment charges (perjury and obstruction of justice), passage of either of which would have removed him from office (1999).

• Abortion: Mr. McCain has repeatedly voted to ban partial-birth abortion and to override Clinton vetoes in 1996 and 1998. In addition, he voted to prohibit federally financed family planning agencies from counseling pregnant women on abortion (1991); against establishing civil and criminal penalties for those who obstruct entrances to abortion clinics (1994); against federal funding of abortion (1993); and to require notification of parents before an abortion could be performed on a minor (1990).

• Budget, taxes and the economy: Mr. McCain voted for the subsidy-eliminating Freedom to Farm bill (1996) and against raising crop subsidies (2002); against raising the minimum wage (1989 and 1996); for the balanced-budget constitutional amendment (1995 and 1997); for the line-item veto (1995); against Mr. Clinton’s first budget, which raised taxes and slashed military spending (1993); for the 1995 Republican plan to balance the budget by 2002; for the eventual compromise deal to balance the budget by 2002 (1997); to reduce the growth rate of Medicare spending (1995); to phase out the estate tax (2000); to end filibusters against bills to reduce capital-gains taxes (1989 and 1991); for product-liability reform (1995 and 1996); against plant-closing notification requirements (1987); and against banning striker replacements (1992).

• Foreign and defense policy: Mr. McCain voted against banning tests on large nuclear weapons (1987); against limiting testing of space-based anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) (1987); against reducing ABM spending (1989, 1991 and 1995); against reducing spending on the Trident II ballistic missile (1994); and against the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1999); for military aid to El Salvador (1991) and for aid to the Nicaraguan resistance (1988); and to use force in the Persian Gulf (1991).

• Civil rights: Mr. McCain voted against penalizing the Boy Scouts for banning homosexuals (2001); against broadening the hate-crimes list of victims (2000); against “motor voter” (1993); against the 1990 Civil Rights Act and against overriding President Bush’s veto; against Mr. Clinton’s plan to lift the ban on homosexuals serving in the military (1993); and against barring job discrimination based on sexual orientation (1996).

Despite voting in the opposite direction on each and every one of these key votes, Mr. Kerry wants Mr. McCain one heartbeat away.

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