- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

John Kerry’s sorriest moment, until now, sounded like this: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” But this week he has arguably outdone that equivocation.

“It is essential to acknowledge that the war itself was a mistake,” the Massachusetts Democrat told a crowd of cheering leftists Tuesday at the “Take Back America” conference in Washington. “It was wrong, and I was wrong to vote for that Iraqi war resolution.” He called on President Bush to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of the year. Sen. Hillary Clinton disagreed and was booed. Thus, Mr. Kerry, in his bid to remake himself as the antiwar partisan his liberal base has wanted all along, has flip-flopped his way to an even bigger self-contradiction than the one that did him in two years ago.

This is just too convenient. The supposed change of heart comes at the very moment President Bush’s polling numbers ticked up on news of terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi’s death; at the very moment an Iowa poll places Mr. Kerry behind John Edwards among Democratic voters there for 2008; at the moment other Democratic hopefuls like Mrs. Clinton are being called formidable by Republican commentators; at the moment John Kerry is being written off as a has-been among presidential contenders.

Consistency has never been Mr. Kerry’s strong suit, but this is exceptional. We don’t know whether the actions are sheerly cynical or a cynical calculation coupled with colossal bumbling. It would be “bumbling” because prospects in Iraq are looking better this week than they have in some time, and American voters are noticing. The Iraqi government has filled key cabinet posts. A massive raid on insurgent positions is underway (452 raids and 104 insurgent deaths have reportedly happened since Zarqawi’s death). Even if this is not “the beginning of the end” of al Qaeda in Iraq, the way that bullish officials in Baghdad were quoted as saying yesterday, the timing suggests that Mr. Kerry might not even care if it was. The position he espoused this week would doubtlessly unintentionally play right into the hands of the enemy’s strategy, which is to survive long enough to grind away the American will to fight.

Mr. Kerry was a flip-flopper during the 2004 campaign. Now, apparently, he is an even bigger flip-flopper. He seems not to have learned anything from 2004. Even now, with more than two years to go until his next shot at the presidency, his finger in the wind still directs him, even on matters as vital as Iraq.

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