George Will

WASHINGTON -- In the more than 250 days until Nov. 2, John Kerry can answer questions that linger in spite of, or because of, all he has said so far. Such as:

Other than denoting your disapproval, what does the adjective mean in the phrase ``special interest''? Is the National Education Association a special interest? The AFL-CIO?

You abhor ``special tax giveaways for the privileged and special interests.'' When supporting billions in ethanol subsidies, mostly for agribusinesses, did you think about corn-growing, caucus-holding Iowa?

Is the National Rifle Association a ``special interest''? Is ``special'' a synonym for ``conservative''?

When you denounce ``lobbyists'' do you include those for Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club? Is ``liberal lobbyist'' an oxymoron?

All the Americans affected by laws you pass -- that is, all Americans -- refuse to pipe down and mind their own business so that you can mind their business for them. Often they hire lobbyists to exercise their First Amendment right to ``petition the government for a redress of grievances." Can you despise lobbyists without disparaging that right?

You say the rich do not pay enough taxes. In 1979 the top 1 percent of earners paid 19.75 percent of income taxes. Today they pay 36.3 percent. How much is enough?

You say the federal government is not spending enough on education. President Bush has increased education spending 48 percent. How much is enough?

In January 1991, after Iraq extinguished Kuwait's sovereignty, you opposed responding with force rather than economic sanctions. Have such sanctions ever undone such aggression?

On Jan. 11, 1991, you said that going to war was abandoning ``the theory of deterrence." Was it not a tad late to deter Iraqi aggression?

The next day you said, ``I do not believe our nation is prepared for war." How did unpreparedness subsequently manifest itself?

On Jan. 22, 1991, responding to a constituent opposed to the Gulf War, you wrote ``I share your concerns" and would have given sanctions more time. Nine days later, responding to a voter who favored the war, you wrote, ``I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis." Did you have a third position?

You say the Bush administration questions ``the patriotism" of its critics. You say that as president you will ``appoint a U.S. trade representative who is an American patriot." You mean the current representative, Robert Zoellick, is not a patriot?

You strongly praise former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, who strongly supports NAFTA and free trade. Have you changed your mind about him or about free trade (as you have changed your mind about No Child Left Behind, the 2002 war resolution, the Patriot Act, etc.)?

You oppose immediate termination of U.S. involvement in Iraq, and you opposed the $87 billion to pay for involvement. Come again?

In 1994, the year after the first attack on the World Trade Center, you voted to cut $1 billion from counterterrorism activities. In 1995 you proposed a $1.5 billion cut in intelligence funding. Are you now glad that both proposals were defeated?

You favor civil unions but not same-sex marriage. What is the difference? What consequences of gay marriage worry you? Your state's highest court says marriage is ``an evolving paradigm." Do you agree? You say you agree with what Dick Cheney said in 2000: States should have a right to ``come to different conclusions" about same-sex marriage. Why, then, were you one of only 14 senators who opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, which protects that right? Massachusetts opponents of the same-sex ruling are moving for a referendum to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. How will you vote?

You favor full disclosure of political spending. Organized labor is fighting new regulations requiring full disclosure to union members of the political uses of their mandatory union dues. As president, would you rescind these regulations?

Praising McCain-Feingold restrictions on political contributions, you said: ``This bill reduces the power of the checkbook and I will therefore support it." In December you saved your sagging campaign by writing it a $6.4 million check. Why is your checkbook's unfettered freedom wholesome?

You deny that restricting campaign contributions restricts speech. How much of the $6.4 million did you spend on speech -- broadcast messages?

Billionaire George Soros says he will spend whatever is necessary -- just a few million so far, but more coming -- to defeat Bush. As one who believes -- well, who says -- there is ``too much money" in politics, are you appalled?

There are 28 more questions where these 28 came from.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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