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A Conservative's Analysis of John Kerry's Record
John Perazzo, in frontpagemag.com (Feb. 17, 2004):
When analysts look back on the moments that catapulted Sen. John Kerry to frontrunner status in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, they will acknowledge that one of the biggest turns of the campaign occurred on January 25. On that day, Kerry campaign strategists whisked Jim Rassmann from Florence, Oregon, straight to Iowa for an emotional, “surprise” public reunion with Kerry. As Rassmann's fellow soldier in the Vietnam War, Kerry saved Rassmann's life by dodging a hail of enemy gunfire to drag him out of a river and carry him to safety. As John Hurley, director of the Veterans for Kerry campaign, acknowledges, Rassmann's appearance with Kerry gave the senator an enormous boost. “It was just thrilling to get [Rassmann's] phone call out of the blue,” Hurley said. “Normally I'm a calm guy, but I was dancing and shrieking.”
Kerry has made frequent references to his military background, depicting himself as a proud American who served his nation honorably during the Vietnam War. However, what most people do not realize is when Kerry returned from combat, he became a key figure in the early-1970s, anti-American and pro-Hanoi movement personified by Jane Fonda. Like so many of those protesters, Kerry publicly maligned American soldiers, and went on to become a prominent organizer for one of America's most radical appeasement groups, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). He developed close ties with celebrated activists like Fonda and Ramsey Clark, the radical Attorney General who served under President Lyndon Johnson. (Clark went on to head the pro-North Korean International Action Center.) Kerry also supported a document known as the “People's Peace Treaty,” which was reportedly composed in Communist East Germany and contained nine points – all of them extracted from a list of Viet Cong conditions for ending the war.
By participating in VVAW demonstrations, Kerry marched alongside many revolutionary Communists. Exploiting his presence at such rallies, the Communist publication Daily World prominently published photographs of Kerry addressing anti-war protestors, some of whom were carrying banners with portraits of Communist Party leader Angela Davis. Openly organized by known Communists, these rallies were typified by what the December 12, 1971, Herald Traveler called an “abundance of Vietcong flags, clenched fists raised in the air, and placards plainly bearing legends in support of China, Cuba, the USSR, North Korea and the Hanoi government.”
In early 1971, Kerry organized one of the most confrontational anti-war protests of the period, in which nearly 1,000 purported Vietnam veterans gathered on Washington, D.C.'s Mall for what they termed “a limited incursion into the country of Congress.” As part of a carefully orchestrated buildup toward that demonstration, Kerry had recently testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, claiming to have personally heard U.S. soldiers boast about having raped, dismembered, tortured, poisoned and randomly executed innocent civilians – sometimes even razing entire villages in a manner reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan. During that same time period, Kerry charged that American-perpetrated war crimes in Vietnam were the norm, not the exception – and were carried out with the full awareness and blessing of officers at all levels of American military command.
Today, many American veterans and their families deem Kerry's past public excoriation of U.S. troops as unforgivable acts bordering on treason. As a result, veterans have formed several groups opposing Kerry's presidential ambitions. The root cause of their anti-Kerry sentiment is summarized by the publication U.S. Veteran Dispatch , which notes that Kerry's aforementioned testimony “occurred while some of his fellow Vietnam veterans were known by the world to be enduring terrible suffering as prisoners of war in North Vietnamese prisons.” Indeed, Senator John McCain has stated that his North Vietnamese captors had used reports of Kerry-led protests to taunt him and his fellow prisoners. Retired General George S. Patton III angrily charged that Kerry's actions were giving “aid and comfort to the enemy.”
One anti-Kerry group, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry (VVAJK), recently formed a national coalition with two other groups: Vietnamese-Americans for Human Rights in Vietnam (VAHRV), and Vietnamese-Americans Against John Kerry (VAAJK). “We represent hundreds of thousand of American veterans,” says VVAJK founder said Ted Sampley, “who do not want to see John Kerry anywhere near the Oval Office.” A formal VVAJK statement reads, “As a national leader of VVAW, Kerry campaigned against the effort of the United States to contain the spread of Communism. He used the blood of servicemen still in the field for his own political advancement by claiming that their blood was being shed unnecessarily or in vain . . . Under Kerry's leadership, VVAW members mocked the uniform of United States soldiers by wearing tattered fatigues marked with pro-communist graffiti. They dishonored America by marching in demonstrations under the flag of the Viet Cong enemy.” In a similar spirit, VAAJK member Dan Tran says, “On behalf of tens of thousands of Vietnamese-Americans, we are determined to demonstrate against Senator Kerry all across this nation . . . John Kerry aided and abetted the Communist government in Hanoi and has hindered any human rights progress in Vietnam.”
As chairman of the Select Senate Committee on POW/MIA (Prisoners Of War/Missing In Action) Affairs, which was created in 1991 to determine whether any American POWs or MIAs were still alive in Vietnam, Kerry doggedly pushed the panel to conclude all Americans were dead. According to U.S. Veteran Dispatch , “[N]o one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW/MIA issue, the last obstacle preventing normalization of relations with Hanoi, than John Forbes Kerry.” Controversy erupted in December 1992, however, when, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, “Hanoi announced that it had awarded Colliers International, a Boston-based real estate company, an exclusive deal to develop its commercial real estate potentially worth billions. Stuart Forbes, the CEO of Colliers, is [John] Kerry's cousin.”
Kerry's career in the U.S. Senate began in 1984. Since then – and notwithstanding his efforts to portray himself as a political moderate – he has established a long record of support for a wide array of left-wing causes, ideologies, and associated pieces of legislation. Among the most significant features of this record are the votes he has cast with regard to national defense and security issues. During his Senate career, Kerry has voted for at least seven major reductions in defense and military spending. Even after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by Islamic terrorists, he voted to cut intelligence spending by $1.5 billion for the five years prior to 2001. In 1996 he voted to slash defense spending by $6.5 billion.
However, Kerry has been a big spender on non-defense projects, having earned a lifetime rating of only 26 percent from the organization Citizens Against Government Waste. Over the years, Kerry has voted against a Balanced Budget Amendment at least five times, and against lowering overall government spending at least three times. In 2001, he voted against President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut package, marking at least the tenth anti-tax relief vote of his Senate career. By contrast, Kerry voted in favor of President Clinton's 1993 tax hike, which was the largest tax increase in American history. In fact, Kerry recently called for “a return to the fiscal responsibility we gave this country in 1993 when we passed the Deficit Reduction Act.” Kerry's consistent pattern of voting in favor of high taxes has earned him a meager 25.2 percent rating from the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) for the period of 1985-2001. Similarly, the group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) gives him a paltry 12.5 percent rating for the years 1999-2002. The issue of taxation, of course, has enormous implications for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Kerry a 36 percent rating for the years 1985-2001, and the National Federation of Independent Business rates him a pathetic 21.4 percent for the years 1997-2001.
Kerry's positions on most political and social issues are consistently leftist. In 2000, he voted to expand federal hate-crime protections to include such categories as gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. He has consistently voted in favor of Affirmative Action and set-asides in employment and contracting. With regard to environmental issues, he consistently supports the positions of radical leftist groups like the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which has endorsed him for the 2004 presidential election. During the past six years, the LCV has approved of 95 percent of Kerry's votes on environmental matters. According to the Capital Research Center, which rates the political leanings of nonprofit organizations, this group's rating places it at the extreme Left of the political spectrum.
Kerry has voted in favor of federal funding for abortions, and against requiring parental notification for minors' abortions. On at least three occasions he has voted against proposed bans of partial-birth abortions. While Kerry has earned a Zero-percent rating from the National Right To Life Committee, his National Abortion And Reproductive Rights League rating is consistently 100 percent, year after year.
With regard to criminal justice, Kerry opposes the death penalty “because I think it's applied unfairly.” After 9/11, however, he conveniently changed his tune. Said the senator, "I am for the death penalty for terrorists because terrorists have declared war on [our] country. I support killing people who declare war on our country.” But this is a new position for Kerry, who, between 1989 and 1993, voted at least three times to exempt terrorists from the death penalty, on grounds that anti-death penalty nations would refuse to extradite suspected terrorists to the United States.
As Michael Dukakis' Lieutenant Governor from 1983-1985, Kerry supported a furlough program for hundreds of Massachusetts' inmates, a program that many critics deemed too lenient toward criminals. In a case that garnered national attention during the 1988 presidential debates between Mr. Dukakis and George H.W. Bush, a prisoner named Willie Horton brutally raped a woman while he was free on such a furlough.
Though Kerry characterizes himself as a political moderate, his voting record is, in fact, every bit as far-Left as that of his fellow Massachusetts senator, the candidly left-wing Ted Kennedy. According to Congressional Quarterly , over the course of Kerry's Senate career, he has sided with Kennedy fully 94 percent of the time for key votes. In a number of different years – 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, and 2001 – that figure stood at 100 percent. Kerry's lifetime Vote Rating from the leftist group Americans For Democratic Action (ADA) is 93 percent. Senator Kennedy's ADA rating is a slightly lower 88 percent; that is, a avowedly leftist group states that John Kerry's voting record is to the Left of Ted Kennedy's. By contrast, Kerry's lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) stands at just 5 percent – the third lowest figure in the entire Senate, higher only than the ACU ratings for Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. The ACU ratings for some other notable Democrats are: 13 percent apiece for Richard Gephardt, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Daschle; 14 percent for John Edwards; 15 percent for Dennis Kucinich; and 19 percent for Joe Lieberman. Senator John Breaux, one of the upper chamber's few moderate Democrats, has a 46 percent ACU rating.
Kerry's stated positions on various major political issues have, on numerous occasions, been inconsistent and contradictory. For instance, he fiercely condemns the Patriot Act as the slippery slope toward a police state, and excoriates Attorney General John Ashcroft for violating Americans' civil liberties. “We are a nation of laws and liberties, not of a knock in the night,” says Kerry. “So it is time to end the era of John Ashcroft. That starts with replacing the Patriot Act with a new law that protects our people and our liberties at the same time.” But in 2001, Kerry in fact voted for the Patriot Act – parts of which he himself originally wrote. He said at the time that he was “pleased at the compromise we have reached on the anti-terrorism legislation as a whole.” “It reflects,” he said on the Senate floor, “an enormous amount of hard work by the members of the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. I congratulate them and thank them for that work.”
In 1991, Kerry voted against authorizing the use of force in the Persian Gulf. Yet he now claims that he fully supported Operation Desert Storm, but voted against it only because he wanted the first President Bush “to take a couple more months to build the support of the nation.” At the dawn of that war, Kerry warned that the elder Bush's “unilateral” action constituted a “rush to war” that might lead to “another generation of amputees, paraplegics, burn victims.” “Is the liberation of Kuwait so imperative that all those risks are worthwhile at this moment?” he asked rhetorically. Eleven days later, he wrote a letter to a constituent explaining that he opposed military action and preferred to give economic sanctions “more time to work.” Nine days after that, however, he wrote to the same constituent and said that he “strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis.”
More recently, Kerry has exhibited similar shifts in his stated stance on the 2003 Iraq war. Amid his blistering criticisms of President George W. Bush's foreign policy, Kerry has said, “We did not empower the president to do regime change.” Yet in fact, Kerry supported an October 2002 Senate resolution that specifically cited regime change as a goal. That resolution, which passed by a 77-to-23 margin, authorized President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refused to abide by UN mandates. Kerry had similarly voted to make regime change a U.S. objective back in 1998.
Throughout 2003 and into 2004, Kerry has condemned what he calls President Bush's needless “rush to war” against Iraq. But in October 2002 Kerry himself addressed the Senate with a stern speech declaring Iraq “capable of quickly producing [and] weaponizing” biological agents that could be delivered against “the United States itself.” In a January 23, 2003, foreign policy speech at Georgetown University, Kerry stated, “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. He miscalculated an eight-year war with Iran. He miscalculated the invasion of Kuwait. He miscalculated America's response to that act of naked aggression. He miscalculated the result of setting oilrigs on fire. He miscalculated the impact of sending scuds into Israel and trying to assassinate an American President. He miscalculated his own military strength. He miscalculated the Arab world's response to his misconduct. And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction.”
Despite his consistently leftist stance on the issues, John Kerry has staked out public positions all over the political map since the early 1970s. But one thing has remained troublingly consistent: He prefers to hide his three decades of left-wing activism from the American public. We hope the American people will not be so easily fooled.
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