Opinion

Kerry and the consistency of being inconsistent

Following the first presidential debate, Saturday Night Live captured Kerry’s position with typical poignancy. In a sketch, Jim Lehrer asks Kerry about the charge that he’s been inconsistent on Iraq. This Kerry was finally more forthcoming than the real one when he replied, “I’ve always been consistent on Iraq; in front of pro-war audiences I’m 100% in support of the war and in front of anti-war audiences I’m consistently against it.”

Much has been made about Kerry’s manner of nuanced speech that only New England liberals (and those from New Jersey) seem to find endearing. One example we’re all familiar with is where Kerry expresses that he “voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it,” referring to the $87 billion in supplemental defense funding for Iraq and Afghanistan that he voted against. It is certainly true that there’s more to that supplemental bill than just an up or down vote. What you’ve not heard, however, is that on Sept. 14, 2003, when asked if he would vote against the bill if his amendment didn’t pass, Kerry said, “I don’t think anyone in the Congress is going to not give our troops ammunition, not give our troops the ability to be able to defend themselves.” One month later Kerry did just that.

At the first two debates, Kerry praised the 1991 Gulf War coalition that was put together by the first President Bush. That coalition, which Kerry says was the ideal type of coalition, included a broad base of nations including most of our NATO allies and Arab nations like Syria and Egypt. It came complete with significant numbers of ground troops and a UN resolution authorizing the use of force. It was everything that Kerry says we need now, but don’t have.

While I was sitting in the Persian Gulf as part of the American military forces sent to liberate an Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, how did Kerry vote when it came time for Congress to vote to authorize force for that grand coalition? Kerry voted, “No.” It was everything he says we need now but don’t have, and when we had it, he voted no. Perhaps if he had been running for President then, he might have voted differently.

If I had been at that debate in St. Louis on Oct. 8, and had the chance to ask Kerry a question, I would have asked, “Senator, have you lost your mind?”

Scott Wacholtz can be contacted at

s.wacholtz@umiami.edu.

October 15, 2004

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