When did Democrats stop calling themselves "liberal"?
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., when asked whether he considered himself a liberal, treated the questioner as if she belonged to the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy years.
Elizabeth Bumiller (New York Times): The National Journal, a respected, nonideologic (sic) publication covering Congress . . . has just rated you, Sen. Kerry, No. 1, the most liberal senator in the Senate. . . . How can you hope to win with this kind of characterization, in this climate?
John Kerry: Because it's a laughable characterization, it's absolutely the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life.
Bumiller: Are you a liberal?
Kerry: . . . (L)ook, labels are so silly in American politics. . . . Do you know what they measured in that? First of all, they measured 62 votes. I voted 37 times; 25 votes they didn't even count because I wasn't there to vote for them. . . .
Secondly . . . they counted my voting against the Medicare bill, which is a terrible bill for seniors in America, they called that being liberal. Lots of conservatives voted against that. In addition, they counted my voting against George Bush's tax cut that we can't afford. I thought it was fiscally conservative to vote against George Bush's tax cut. They call it liberal.
Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio: Let me answer directly. I'm liberal. . . .
Dan Rather (CBS): Congressman, do you consider Sen. Kerry a liberal by your definition?
Kucinich: I don't think so, because he voted for the war. He voted for the Patriot Act. He supported NAFTA and the WTO. I would say that . . .
Rather: Rev. Sharpton, do you consider Sen. Kerry a liberal?
Al Sharpton: . . . I think that compared to some of us, no. I think we've made ourselves clear on that.
The Americans for Democratic Action gives Kerry an even higher lifetime liberal rating than senior Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. As mentioned, the National Journal rates Kerry as the chamber's most liberal member.
Still, just don't call a "liberal" a "liberal." Leftist Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi of California also treats the "L" word as if it were toxic. She calls herself a "progressive."
"Fiscally conservative" Kerry wants to raise taxes on the rich, never mind that the top 5 percent of income-earners pay over 53 percent of income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent pay just 3.9 percent. Kerry expects to use his record as a decorated Vietnam vet to deflect the customary accusation against Democrats as "soft on defense." But, as a senator, he voted against nearly every major military munitions program, including those used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, how does Kerry plan to avoid the liberal label? Why, he voted for NAFTA and GATT, enacted into law by former President Bill Clinton, and supported by every living ex-president as well as every living ex-secretary of state. Yet now he criticizes NAFTA and GATT, demanding that foreign countries impose labor and environmental standards. Now follow this. Kerry opposes Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, calling it "unilateralist." But one can unilaterally tell a Third World country to enact worker protection rights or that it must impose environmental standards.
Kerry, the anti-liberal, also blasts away at what he calls "Benedict Arnold CEOs"
-- those who "outsource" jobs to other countries. Never mind that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says free trade benefits the United States, and that, over time, American employment benefits "irrespective if we've had a trade deficit or a trade surplus, whether we've had high outsourcing or low outsourcing."
Regarding NAFTA, John Sweeney, a top trade analyst for the Heritage Foundation, found that a mere three years after NAFTA began, total trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico had increased 43 percent, with U.S. exports to Canada increasing 33 percent, and exports to Mexico up 37 percent. "Hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs have not been destroyed," wrote Sweeney, "the U.S. manufacturing base has not been weakened, and U.S. sovereignty has not been undermined. Instead, total NAFTA trade has increased, U.S. exports and employment levels have risen significantly, and the average living standards of American workers have improved."
Former President Bill Clinton, who signed NAFTA into legislation, said, "NAFTA means jobs, American jobs and good-paying American jobs. . . . NAFTA will generate these jobs by fostering an export boom to Mexico, by tearing down tariff walls. . . .
Already Mexican consumers buy more per capita from the United States than other consumers in other nations. . . . So when people say that this trade agreement is just about how to move jobs to Mexico so nobody can make a living, how do they explain the fact that Mexicans keep buying more products made in America every year?
. . . And there will be more if they have more money to spend. That is what expanding trade is all about."
Who cares? Just remember, when calling a Democrat a "liberal," better smile when you say that.