John Kerry's Waffles
If you don't like the Democratic nominee's views, just wait a week.
Last week, President Bush offered a wry critique of his Democratic challengers. "They're for tax cuts and against them. They're for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They're for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They're in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts." Now that John Kerry is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Republicans are sure to focus the spotlight on his history of flip-flops. Kerry did vote for the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the war in Iraq, even though he constantly trashes the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the war in Iraq. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited marriage to a man and a woman, but he now says marriage should be limited to a man and a woman. (Although he also points out that he once attended a gay wedding.) And those are just the better-known issues on which Kerry has "evolved."
Here, then, since John Edwards was too polite to mention them (though President Bush won't be), is a guide to some of Kerry's other reversals on substantive issues. This list doesn't include quickly withdrawn gaffes, such as Kerry's recent suggestion (retracted after an uproar from Jewish groups) that he might make James Baker or Jimmy Carter his Middle East envoy. It doesn't include long-renounced youthful indiscretions, such as his proposal after returning from Vietnam to eliminate most of the CIA. It doesn't include less clear-cut sins of omission and opportunism, such as his stirring denunciations of companies caught in accounting frauds, even though he supported a 1995 law protecting those companies from liability. And it doesn't include the inevitable fund-raising hypocrisies that accompany all modern campaigns, such as his donations from some of the "Benedict Arnold" companies he routinely rips on the trail, or his bundling of contributions from special interests despite his high-minded rejection of PAC money. Even so, the list is long, and it isn't all-inclusive. Kerry's supporters cite his reversals as evidence of the senator's capacity for nuance and complexity, growth and change. His critics say they represent a fundamental lack of principles. Either way, we'll be hearing a lot about them over the next eight months.
See text of article for chart displaying the great waffling of John Kerry. Perhaps he could do ads for IHOP after he loses.