John Francois Kerry?s 2004 campaign for the presidency is taking on endearing aspects of Boy Clinton?s 1992 campaign. Does that mean this Democratic contender will in the end defeat another Bush? This I cannot say. I will say that as long as the French-looking, cologne-scented, junior senator from Massachusetts remains in the race, the media?s fact checkers are going to be kept on their toes.
In 1992, the fact-checkers were repeatedly called to their posts to review Gov. Clinton?s ongoing revisions of his draft record. They worked overtime on the Boy Candidate?s constantly evolving elucidations of his marijuana adventures, his anti-war demonstrations in London, and that mysterious trip he took behind the Iron Curtain in 1968. Fact checkers were summoned to action when a woman by the name of Gennifer Flowers appeared with a tape on which the Governor appeared to be coaching her in the art of deceiving the press. And when the governor?s position on the first Gulf War was challenged, the sorely pressed fact checkers went into action once again.
Looking back on 1992, we can see that the Democratic candidate?s many collisions with the truth served as a preview to the eight years ahead, a series of lies and contradictions that left the fact checkers exhausted, their role in American journalism increasingly controversial. Liberals and Democrats had cause to question their patriotism. Hillary Rodham Clinton doubtless had them in mind when she warned of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Now we have another Democratic candidate fit to seize Clinton?s mawkish title, Comeback Kid. Kerry has even endured rumors of a sex scandal, and the girl in question was an intern at that.
Actually, John Francois Kerry has endured more scrapes with the truth at this stage in his campaign than Boy Clinton, though most of the scrapes have been less momentous. Back in 2003 there was the scrape over whether or not he had ever claimed to be Irish. There was the refutation of his claim that his first speech in the Senate had been in favor of Roe vs. Wade -- it had been in opposition to cruise missiles. Now there are the many contradictions in his statements about what he did with his military medals, how he won them and precisely how anti-American his war protests were. Did he attend a protesters? meeting that discussed murdering American politicians? He says no. Others say he did. And a member of Kerry?s campaign called at least one anti-war veteran from those faraway days of protest, asking him to change his reminiscence of Kerry the war protester.
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