On Feb. 27, 1992, Kerry delivered a speech on the Senate floor defending Bill Clinton's non-service and avoidance of the draft as irrelevant and lamenting that Vietnam had been "inserted into the campaign." Another presidential candidate at that time, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, was using his own Vietnam service as a political weapon against Bill Clinton (history does repeat). John Kerry told his fellow senators, "What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be re-fighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary ... We do not need to divide America over who served and how " (emphasis mine).
Kerry continued, "If support or opposition to the war were to become a litmus test for leadership, America would never have leaders or recover from the divisions created by that war."
The Bush reelection team will take such statements, along with scores of what appear to be pragmatic flips on a number of issues, and assert that Kerry doesn't know what he believes and cannot be trusted, especially at a time of grave peril to American interests and security. From his understated counter-punches at Kerry, it is clear that the president is confident he won't run out of material between now and November.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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