This is the first of two columns -- one won't be enough -- addressing the audacious statements in John Kerry's convention speech.
On divisiveness after 9-11, Kerry said he was proud that all Americans were unified after September 11 and "How we wish it had stayed that way." This self-serving formulation ignores that the Democrats' Bush-hatred preceded 9-11 by almost two years and merely took a short, required sabbatical following the terrorist attacks.
On divisiveness in general, Kerry said, "Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. ? This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. ? I see us as one America red, white and blue." Need we remind the senator that it is his party that routinely plays the class warfare and race cards, clearly promoting "angry division"? In this very speech, Kerry railed against tax cuts for the rich, even though the wealthiest Americans received the smallest percentage tax cuts under the Bush plan. And should we interpret Kerry's echo of Barack Obama's "one-America" theme, an outright repudiation of his running mate's two-Americas shtick?
On his record, Kerry said, "I ask that you judge me by my record." But that's the last thing Kerry wants us to do, as evidenced by the balance of his speech and most of the other convention speeches, which were all calculated to obscure Kerry's anemic record on national defense. For good reason, the only facts Kerry shared about his Senate voting record dealt not with national security, but a balanced budget initiative and a law enforcement measure.
On negative campaigning, Kerry lectured President Bush, "In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents." This was after Kerry had pledged to "restore trust and credibility to the White House, accused V.P. Cheney of conducting illicit secret meetings with "polluters" and accused President Bush of "mislead(ing) us into war," playing footsie with the Saudi Royal family, not guiding policy by facts and "distorting facts with politics." Campaigning doesn't get any dirtier than this. And if Kerry meant to suggest that Bush either pressured the CIA or distorted the intelligence provided to him, he is contradicting the 9-11 Commission and the agencies themselves. (And don't forget Kerry's bizarre hedge as recently as May, admitting that we still might find WMD in Iraq.)
On honoring the Constitution, Kerry said he "will appoint an attorney general who actually upholds the Constitution." Like Janet Reno, perhaps, who demonstrated her allegiance for the document in ratifying or ordering the storming of Waco and the home of Elian's Miami relatives? And while Ashcroft is the Democrats' favorite demon, Kerry wants us to forget that he voted for the Patriot Act himself. Kerry also admonished President Bush not to misuse the Constitution for political purposes -- presumably, like his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who have often usurped the president's judicial appointment power.
On nuance, Kerry said, "I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities -- and I do -- because some issues just aren't that simple." Sorry, but the reverse is true. Republicans haven't dogged Kerry for his pretentious, self-congratulatory nuance. They have merely applauded President Bush for his moral clarity and defended him against Democratic criticism that he lacks nuance. Nuance and complexity are fine, but paralytic indecisiveness is not nuance, and moral uncertainty is neither proof of complexity or mental agility.
On war, Kerry guaranteed he would never lead America into war unless "we have to." I suppose, then, he will apologize for his support of the Iraq War resolution and the bombing of Serbia and recant his earlier pronouncements that preemptive war may sometimes be necessary.
On defense, Kerry said he would "provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives and win the battle." I note that it was not at this juncture in the speech that Kerry asked to be judged on his record.
On the draft, Kerry made an utterly irresponsible statement, unfitting a would-be commander in chief: "We will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists." Every reservist is told before he enlists or re-ups that he can be called into active duty. To suggest that the administration somehow misled the reserves by activating them is unconscionable. It also invites the question of how Senator Kerry, who has sometimes been critical of our troop levels in Iraq, would have brought them to sufficient strength. Oh, that's right. He would have simply asked the foreign leaders who would prefer him as president, and they would have complied because they like him.
More on such foolishness in Part II.