Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Kerry has a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, but the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn’t have the courage of his convictions. During the second presidential debate, President Bush matter-of-factly observed that the National Journal named Mr. Kerry “the most liberal senator of all [in 2003], and that’s saying something in that bunch.” In refusing to accept the accurate description, the normally glib Mr. Kerry complained that “the president is just trying to scare everybody with throwing around labels.” If, as Mr. Kerry implied, the electorate is so susceptible to being scared by the prospect of elevating the Senate’s most liberal member to be commander-in-chief, then he has nobody to blame but himself.

Unlike Ted Kennedy, the senior Massachusetts senator who basks in his well-earned reputation as “an anchor” for “his party’s liberal base” (according to Congressional Quarterly), Mr. Kerry considers the liberalism label to be radioactive. It wasn’t always that way. In 1991, Mr. Kerry told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he was “a liberal and proud of it.” Thus, Mr. Kerry’s current refusal to embrace the liberal ideology he has spent two decades in the U.S. Senate advancing represents the mother of all flip-flops.

Indeed, Mr. Kerry’s radical liberalism has been so entrenched and long-standing that his 20-year Senate career includes four years (twice in the 1980s, once in the 1990s and last year) during which he has earned the distinction of being the Senate’s most liberal member.

No less than the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), which rightly considers itself to be the arbiter of all things liberal, has given Mr. Kerry a “liberal quotient” of 92 percent, 2 percentage points above Mr. Kennedy’s voting rating. Moreover, a review of the ADA’s 200 most important votes during the 1990s (20 per year) revealed that Mr. Kennedy voted ADA’s way 191 times, while Mr. Kerry did so 190 times.

For each of the past nine years, Mr. Kerry received a 100 percent score from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL Pro-Choice America), while he and Mr. Kennedy have each received 0 ratings from the National Right to Life Committee for the past six years.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Kerry has compiled a 90 percent rating from the AFL-CIO, barely different from Mr. Kennedy’s 93 percent. Since 1985, the American Civil Liberties Union has given Mr. Kerry an average rating of 78 percent, virtually identical to Mr. Kennedy’s 80 percent. From 1985 through 2002, the League of Conservation Voters, which styles itself as “the political voice of the environmental movement,” has given Mr. Kerry a lifetime rating of 96 percent, appreciably higher than Mr. Kennedy’s 87 percent over the same period. Both senators have received an average rating of 8 percent from the Christian Coalition since 1991.

On fiscal matters, during each of the past seven years, the National Taxpayers Union has flunked both Mr. Kerry (average annual score: 13 percent) and Mr. Kennedy (average annual score: 11 percent). Meanwhile, annual voting ratings over 10 years from the Concord Coalition, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan, grassroots organization advocating fiscal responsibility,” have averaged 37 percent for Mr. Kerry and 36 percent for Mr. Kennedy.

Throughout Mr. Kerry’s Senate career, he has voted the same as Mr. Kennedy on 92.5 percent of National Journal’s “key votes.” During six Congresses (covering 12 years), Messrs. Kerry and Kennedy voted identically on all of National Journal’s “key votes.” Among the 268 “key votes” identified by Congressional Quarterly (CQ) from 1985 through 2003 and voted on by Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry supported Mr. Kennedy’s position 92.4 percent of the time. During five of the last six years, Mr. Kerry has not differed with Mr. Kennedy on a single CQ “key vote.”

The conclusions are irrefutable: Mr. Kerry is a virtual clone of Mr. Kennedy; and a vote for Mr. Kerry is a vote for the radical liberal agenda both he and Mr. Kennedy so enthusiastically embrace.

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