Defining Kerry Downward
Will George W. Bush share the fate of his father and be turned out of
office 18 months after having won a military triumph that vaulted him to 90
percent approval? So it seemed during the primaries, as almost a dozen
Democratic candidates pummeled Bush daily for having misled the nation on Iraq
and presided over the greatest job loss since Hoover.
These same two months have been the halcyon days of John F. Kerry. Every
Tuesday night, he has appeared before the nation smiling in victory. Every
Wednesday morning, his face has graced the front pages. As each of his rivals
fell before him – Dean, Clark, Edwards – he has been boosted by a media almost
pathologically anti-Bush into six-, eight- and 10-point leads over the
Democrats have begun to sing "Happy Days Are Here Again." And if a national
referendum were to be held on the Bush policies on trade, job creation,
immigration and Iraq today, the president might well be in peril of
Nevertheless, in this writer's judgment, Kerry has peaked. His salad days are
behind him. The polls may have him see-saw back and forth, in and out of the
lead through the spring and summer, but Kerry faces an major challenge in
convincing this country he ought to be president of the United States.
Why? Because John Kerry, by his voting record over two decades, is outside the
American mainstream. Unlike John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan or even the roguish
Bill Clinton, he is not a naturally attractive man. Third, he seems not to
have a single conviction he will not jettison in the pursuit of power.
Finally, with a seasoned opposition coming hard at him – as no Democratic
opponent did in the primaries – Kerry cannot hide his deficiencies over an
eight-month campaign where the attacks will be relentless and the media
spotlight forever on.
The bleeding has already begun. An NBC poll that found Kerry now two points
behind the president had more troubling news. A third of the country had no
knowledge of him, but of those who did profess some familiarity, 42 percent
said Kerry has no principles or beliefs he will not abandon to advance his
Thus, at the end of a triumphant primary campaign where he lost only three
states, Kerry is seen as a profile in expediency. And the Bushites have only
just begun to drill this cavity.
Over 20 percent of those who have formed an opinion see Kerry as a
Massachusetts liberal. This is virgin land to plow. And it is here that the
White House, after pulling down the "Morning in America" ads, will begin
investing the war chest Bush, Cheney, the Rangers and the Pioneers have
amassed. And here there is pay dirt.
Kerry is a card-carrying member of the moral minority. He voted against the
Defense of Marriage Act even Clinton signed, and opposes the death penalty
even for Willie Horton. He believes homosexuals should have the same right to
form matrimonial unions as heterosexuals and supports abortion up until the
final minutes of pregnancy. Kerry even voted not to outlaw that grisly form of
infanticide known as "partial-birth abortion."
Will the tough new pro-life, pro-family archbishop of Boston be silent about
Catholic Kerry's voting record, as Cardinal John O'Connor was not about
Geraldine Ferraro's in 1984?
Kerry is a decorated veteran of Vietnam, but he has voted against every weapon
in the U.S. arsenal. MSNBC's Craig Crawford cracks that, had it been up to
Kerry, we would have been fighting the Iraqis with hockey sticks
Kerry has promised to repeal the tax cuts that Bush gave to Americans earning
$200,000 or more. The income-tax rate would thus rise from 35 percent to near
40 percent, and the tax cuts on dividends and capital gains would vanish.
Kerry would use the revenue to give the middle class another tax cut. How this
neo-socialist transfer of income from the class that provides the seed corn of
the American economy to the class that consumes almost all of what it earns
would create new and high-paying jobs in the private economy is unexplained.
Every presidential election is a referendum on the incumbent. To defeat a
president, Americans must first be convinced it is time for the man to go.
They must then be persuaded the challenger is the man to replace him.
Bush's problem is that America is coming to believe that, perhaps, his time is
past. Kerry's problem is that, given his lack of convictions and his Barney
Frank-Teddy Kennedy voting record, he does not look like the fellow who can
close the sale.
© 2004 Creators
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