Mona Charen

 As The Washington Times noted last week, Richard Nixon wasn't even president on Christmas Day, 1968, and unless Kerry is making news by suggesting that Lyndon Johnson ordered him into Cambodia, the story does not hold up. Besides, the new book "Unfit for Command," details the denials of every living officer in Kerry's chain of command that Kerry was ever in Cambodia.

 Kerry's star turn as a Vietnam Vet against the war -- he famously testified before Congress about atrocities supposedly committed by U.S. forces -- casts further doubt on his now-preferred image of good soldier. That was not courage. That was libel.

 Kerry's snappy "reporting for duty" line cannot erase his record as a weak sister during the Cold War. While President Reagan and the Republicans were attempting to rebuild America's defenses during the 1980s, Kerry was an enthusiastic backer of the nuclear freeze -- a measure that would have cemented the USSR's lead in intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 1985, Kerry sponsored legislation that would have strangled the Strategic Defense Initiative in the cradle.

 Concerning the flashpoints of the Cold War conflict, Kerry was perennially inclined the give the communist side the benefit of the doubt. He denounced the U.S. ouster of Cubans from the Caribbean island of Grenada as "bullying," and he was a vociferous opponent of aid to the anti-communist forces in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

 As recently as the 1990s, Kerry proposed to cut funding for intelligence agencies, and opposed the first Gulf War. He seems to believe that he would be successful in gaining the support of France where Bush has failed. But no one has yet asked him, to what end? Even if he could sweet talk the French into a more supportive posture (highly doubtful), how would that improve America's safety?

 Kerry has draped himself in red, white and blue for 2004. But his new clothes cannot obscure the truth -- that his record is one of appeasement and weakness.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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