While many, myself included, are pointing out the numerous inconsistencies in Senator Kerry's recent positions on the issues, I think we also ought to look at his disturbing consistencies from the Vietnam era to the present.
It is true that Senator Kerry voted to authorize a military attack on Iraq and then later tried to squirm out of his vote. Senator Kerry decried Republicans for criticizing candidate Clinton for avoiding the draft but is now exploiting questions about President Bush's Air National Guard service. Kerry has conveniently retreated from his position against capital punishment for terrorists. He shamelessly attacks the Patriot Act, though he voted for it a few short years ago. And he's all over the board on the gay marriage debate.
While this small sampling of Kerry's many contradictions reveals that he is a rank opportunist, it tells us little about his driving ideology. But we have other evidence from which a clearer picture emerges as to his true ideological rudder, especially with respect to his fitness as a commander in chief.
President Bush is already a tried and tested commander in chief with whom the majority of the public feels secure despite valiant Democratic efforts to tarnish his credibility. Because the War on Terror is foremost on voters' minds, Democrats became desperate to find a candidate qualified to be commander in chief.
What were Democrats to do? Well, a faction of them tried to draft General Wesley Clark to inject instant defense credibility into the party notorious for its softness on national defense. For a number of reasons that was a bust. At the same time, on a parallel track, Senator Kerry began to milk his Vietnam service for all it was worth, which so far has been a successful ploy.
And so the logic has been established: John Kerry was a war hero 30 years ago, and George Bush saw no combat, therefore John Kerry is better equipped to lead the nation at war than George Bush.
But for Democrats to get any traction here, they have to explain the lack of military experience of our other successful commanders in chief. More significantly, they have to explain how military combat experience qualifies one to lead the nation on foreign affairs and national defense. Perhaps this wouldn't be so difficult if the combat veteran in question had not demonstrated such hostility toward the military and national defense, like Senator Kerry has since he returned from Vietnam.
It was then that he first propelled himself into political prominence on the backs of his fellow Vietnam veterans, accusing them of unspeakable atrocities and impugning America for engaging in an immoral war in Vietnam. He made these charges with all the public fanfare he could muster, knowing they would inevitably undermine the morale of our troops. To him, containing Communism was an ignoble cause. He cavorted with the likes of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden in decrying this "barbaric war."
Adding insult to injury, Kerry said in 1970 that he would disperse our troops "through the world, only at the directive of the United Nations," and that he wanted to "almost eliminate CIA activity altogether."
All of this could be more easily written off as the fulminations of an idealistic young man, but for the fact that Kerry is singing from the same hymnal today. He is still trashing our intelligence services; he is saying that we should defer to the United Nations before taking military action against known threats to the United States, and he has implied we were involved in an unjust war in Iraq. He has refused to vote for the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for rebuilding Iraq and supporting our troops there. And throughout his career he has voted against developing some of our most important military technology.
So despite Kerry's many political turnabouts, we see a troubling consistency on these issues that matter the most in America today. He seems to have a visceral aversion to the military he served, a visceral affinity for the United Nations, a propensity to rush to judgment against just causes in which the United States engages and a casual disregard for undermining our troops in combat.
With all due respect, all the war medals in the world shouldn't be enough to enable Kerry to overcome his consistent record as being soft on defense. It is this consistency, more than all of Kerry's political inconsistencies, that should ultimately undo his quest for the presidency, if scandal doesn't do him in first.