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Janus-Faced Kerry Compass

When JFK II’s rhetoric points to the right, he’s really heading leftward.

By 5.20.04

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WASHINGTON -- If John Kerry becomes president, some enterprising entrepreneur stands to make a fortune by creating and selling the "Kerry Compass."

Senator Kerry is a master at mixing and matching positions and metaphors to have it both ways -- to try to sound one way on an issue while his heart lies with the opposite position. Being the Massachusetts liberal that he is, you can bet that John Kerry's heart lies with the left-wing position, particularly on social issues.

Put his issue positions to the test of the "Kerry Compass" however, and you can bet that even though one part of the needle will show his rhetoric appears pointed to the right, the true direction he is heading will be -- far leftward.

Eight years ago, John Kerry opposed the Defense of Marriage Act.

He has said he opposes President Bush's advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

However, like those liberals who support abortion rights but seek to confuse the issue by claiming their "personal" opposition to the legalized killing of children, Kerry said last week that he "personally believe[s] marriage is between a man and a woman." So, he sounds as if he's going rightward.

But he also believes "in extending our rights under the Constitution in a non-discriminatory manner." Surprise -- he's heading leftward!

Then when asked what words of advice he would give to homosexual couples in his home state who wish to be "married" (although they never will be in the eyes of God and traditional Christians everywhere), the answer from the good Senator was: It's not my job to start parceling advice on something personal like that.

That's not the only issue where the Senator must confront the powerful rightward pull exerted by the polls and focus groups while his own inclination is to do whatever it takes to win the presidency and enact a Massachusetts liberal-style agenda. Back in 1972, Kerry posed as a right-to-lifer, bemoaning the day when "abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child...It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything. I say that not just because I'm opposed to abortion but because I think that's common sense."

Three years later, abortion became an issue for the states to decide.

Once again, he sounded conservative, yet he was traveling leftward. Indeed, he's firmly arrived at that leftward position now, having cast vote after vote against pro-life issues.

SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES HAVE TO draw a strong contrast, making clear what the true desire of Kerry is no matter how he tries to cloak it. Unlike the last time a Massachusetts liberal ran in a national election, it's no longer enough to just say he's a liberal. Voters will want to know the facts as much as Senator Kerry tries to hide what he represents. But his words, put to the test, will show he tries to sound conservative while taking very liberal stances. Marriage is one important issue that represents a dividing line between those who honor traditional values and those who care nothing for them.

Four years ago, many evangelicals stayed home and the result was one of the closest elections in history. This year, the marriage issue can bring those stay-at-home evangelicals out to the polls.

President Bush has to repeatedly insist that a constitutional amendment is needed to make clear in no uncertain terms that our nation views marriage to be strictly between one man and one woman and that John Kerry believes otherwise -- despite all his ands and buts, and et ceteras.

What President Bush said this Monday has to be repeated again and again during the campaign. He said: The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges. All Americans have a right to be heard in this debate. I called on the Congress to pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. The need for that amendment is still urgent, and I repeat that call today.

John Kerry has spent a lifetime learning how to artfully construct statements so they are everything and anything but the whole truth. There won't be any tough D.A. grilling Kerry on the stand, certainly not his friends in the establishment news media. President Bush must do this himself in debate.

Social conservatives need to question where Kerry stands on marriage, particularly in the states where Kerry visits that have an initiative in defense of marriage on the ballot. By doing that, it can help to spark a strong turnout by all conservative voters.

Otherwise, the "Kerry Compass" may just turn out to be the gag gift of 2005 -- but those who hold marriage sacred will not be laughing.

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

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Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.