Political Hay

Mentally Unfit for Command

When John Kerry speaks, people are hearing to a desperate cry for help.

By 8.31.04

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Remember just before the Democratic National Convention when Teresa Heinz Kerry gave the press a lecture on bringing civility back to political discourse? Of course, she blames the current incivility on those unpatriotic, treasonous, cowards George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. But when one reporter asked her the clarify one of her comments she, in typical Kerry style, denied what she had in fact said only minutes before, and then, in her typically civil way, told the reporter to "shove it." This little episode is not merely an amusing tale; it is a microcosm of the Kerry for President campaign.

Aside from Princess Kerry herself, direct charges against the president's (and/or vice president's) patriotism have come from key Kerry backers senators Ted Kennedy and Tom Harkin, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, and former vice president Al Gore, to name a few. And the big new pro-Kerry bumper sticker (at least in my neighborhood) reads "Defend America: Defeat George Bush." But it is, of course, President Bush, according to the Kerry camp (and Kerry himself) who is playing dirty by "allowing" the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to run commercials questioning some of Kerry's supposed exploits in Vietnam and criticizing his anti-war activities (including accusing his former comrades of committing war crimes on a daily basis with the knowledge and approval of high-ranking officers). The Kerry campaign is actually suing to keep the Swift Boat Vets from airing their commercials, arguing they are "illegal" because many of the Swift Boat Vets backers are, by golly, Republicans. But the only difference between the Swift Boat Vets and their $200,000 bank roll from prominent Republican donor Bob Perry and MoveOn.org and all those "independent" anti-Bush groups is that the anti-Bushies have aired $63 million in attack adds and are backed by the multi-billion dollar bank roll of prominent Kerry backer George Soros. So the Kerry camp's whining has the same ring to it as Teresa's crusade for civility.

Now I don't know if all the accusations of the Swift Boat Vets are accurate, and neither does President Bush (or, for that matter, Senator McCain) and that is why Bush is right in not acquiescing to Kerry's demand to denounce more than 200 veterans who may have served just as honorably (or more so) than John Kerry -- particularly since they have already been proved right that at least some parts of the "official" Kerry record were materially false. The Kerry campaign has been forced to admit that despite his "searing" memories to the contrary, Kerry did not spend Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia being shot at by both Cambodians and South Vietnamese. But the Kerry camp still isn't sure what the new line is. Is it that, being 50 miles from the border, Kerry mistakenly thought he was in Cambodia, or is it that he was in Cambodia but he just got the date wrong -- it wasn't Christmas Eve but really sometime in January or February? Perhaps the Cambodians had left their Christmas decorations up, causing Kerry confusion. And then, Kerry's new account of one incident when his boat fired on a sampan killing a man and his child (as related in his authorized biography) is far closer to the eyewitness accounts given by the Swift Boat Vets than Lt. Kerry's own aggrandized after action report with phantom Vietcong and no mention of civilian casualties.

BUT LET'S NOT TALK about Vietnam. Just as any mention of September 11 is "disgusting" this campaign season, unless it is used to bash the president, criticism of an opponent's Vietnam era activity is only tasteful if done by Democrats -- as when John Kerry, shortly after stating that he wasn't going to make George Bush's national guard service an issue, made George Bush's national guard service an issue. I also won't criticize his long record in the Senate of voting to strip our intelligence capabilities and voting against almost every weapons system now used by our military, as Kerry and many of his backers, perhaps understandably, equate such criticism with attacks on Kerry's patriotism. I would like to bring up another reason why Kerry is "unfit for command."

I am not an expert on mental disease, but it is obvious to me that Kerry has a few "issues." What other explanation is there for his inability to keep to a consistent argument on any subject?

Let's throw out his famous waffling on the Iraq war. Kerry has still managed to do so many about faces that it is impossible to know for certain what he stands for on anything (except for abortion rights, which he strongly supports, while portraying himself as a Catholic who believes that life begins at conception).

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in December, Kerry said "There are a number of uniquely qualified Americans among whom I would consider appointing [to a peace mission to work with the Israelis and the Palestinians], including President Carter, former Secretary of State James Baker or, as I suggested almost two years ago, President Clinton." That didn't sit well with some Jewish leaders who aren't too hot about Carter or Baker. Mark Steyn in one of his typically brilliant columns quotes a Lawrence Kaplan article in the New Republic on how Kerry latter explained the remark to a gathering of Jewish leaders: "The names, Kerry said, had been inserted by mistake, and he had asked that they be removed." He had asked that the names be removed from his speech, but then gave the speech with the names still in anyway? Are we to assume that Kerry didn't understand what he was saying in his own speech? But that's not the end of it. In that speech to the Council on Foreign Relations he actually goes on to say, "And I might add, I have had conversations with both President Clinton and President Carter about their willingness to do this." "So," writes Steyn, "not only did he read out the mistakenly inserted names he had asked to be removed from the speech, he even went ahead and met with one of the mistakes about offering him a key role he didn't want him to have." But if you think that is weird, the New Republic, as quoted again by Steyn, noted that "The candidate eventually did speak with Carter -- but only after noticing that a draft of his speech said that he spoke with Carter."

Yes, this is the same John Kerry who said he met with unnamed foreign leaders who told him they really wanted him to defeat George Bush. Since the senator had not left the country since announcing his candidacy or had any known meetings with any foreign leaders in the U.S., he later had to "qualify" that statement. But Kerry seems to have taken part in even more stealth activities. He recently stated, for instance, that in addition to his service in Vietnam, he is qualified to be president because, as a senator, he has experience "negotiating treaties." The problem is, the Senate only ratifies treaties, it doesn't negotiate them. And, like the senator's supposed meetings with adoring foreign leaders, there is no record of any administration sending Kerry off to partake in any negotiations. Fantasy seems to play a big role in Kerry's life.

FOR MONTHS KERRY had blasted the Bush administration for not cracking down on "Benedict Arnold CEOs." "We will repeal every single benefit, every single loophole, every single reward," Kerry promised in several speeches, "for any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation that takes American jobs overseas." But even though this was winning rhetoric, Kerry yet again flipped, saying that he didn't mean that "Benedict Arnold CEOs" were those who send jobs oversees, but those who give up their citizenship. The confusion, he explained, was again the work of "overzealous speechwriters" forcing him to say things he didn't believe. If there does become such a thing as a Kerry presidency, the most powerful position in the Republic, apparently, will be presidential speechwriter. Then again, the true motivation for this switch may be that Teresa Heinz Kerry, deriving much of her inherited fortune from dozens of overseas Heinz factories, thought it uncivil of John to call her a Benedict Arnold.

On August 16th, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars President Bush outlined a plan, backed by our NATO allies, to reduce gradually U.S. ground forces in Western Europe and South Korea. Two days later, also addressing the VFW, Kerry lambasted Bush's plan saying it would do no good, upset our allies, and, unlike his own "secret plan" for an "enormous reduction" of U.S. troops in Iraq within the next 6 months, Bush's proposal would "send the wrong message" to our enemies. Yet on ABC's "This Week" on August 1, Kerry declared that under his skillful leadership we would not only be able to bring thousands of troops home from Iraq but also "significantly change the deployment of troops […] in the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps." Could it really be that similarly to the case of his speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, he didn't understand what he was saying? Or in the course of three weeks did he forget what his position was?

When I hear John Kerry speak, I hear a desperate cry for help. And all those "anyone but Bush" people who are actually thinking of voting for this guy would do well to consider a flip-flop of their own.

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About the Author
Brandon Crocker is the chief financial officer of a commercial real estate development and management company in San Diego.