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1 Sep 2004 17:08:53 Daniel Hellerstein.

Subject: Election2004    
Kerry's Inconsistencies: Vietnam, Iraq, and the Act of Suspended Disbelief

01 Sept 2004.

Kerry's Inconsistencies: Vietnam, Iraq, and the Act of Suspended Disbelief

John Kerry has a problem with waffling. Over the last dozen or so years, he has found ways to waffle in his support for the "liberal agenda". From tax cuts to welfare reform to civil liberties, one could depend on Senator Kerry to alight on a position further right then expected.

Yet, he is not a Bushian neo-con. He does have visions (albeit held closely) of freeing the American public of the onus of the New Deal. And he does not drink deeply from the well of militarism.

So allow me to tender some advice in how to deal with a signature assault on Kerry's political essense -- that he waffles, that he is inconsistent, that he can't be counted on to stick to his guns. An assault not based on liberal disappointment. Instead, an assault aimed at his general character, with wartime backgrounds highlighting evident truths.

I propose the following rejoinder. It is one thing to follow your President when he asks for volunteers for a needed war. It is another to continue this support when all the evidence your mind can gather tells you that the horrednous costs of this war do not come close to justifying the proclaimed need. In a nutshell: I may be willing to suspend my skepticisim, but that doesn't mean I'll be taken for a chump.

Consider Vietnam. Kerry is, reported, to have argued against Vietnam whilst in College. Yet on graduation he enlists, for it would be wrong to turn his back when his nation calls, a back turning that really means that someone else will end up going. Upon engaging in the war in Vietnam, Kerry learns its deepest truths. Its costs in men and treasure, its chances of success, and the terrors it invokes. He learns that a skepticism he had concerning this war, a skepticism he suspended when called up, was warranted. And rather then shrug his shoulders in frustration, upon his return he chose to educate his fellow citizenry. To transfer the hard won lessons he had lived through, so that his fellow Americans would not be asked to make the unnecessary sacrifices of war in Vietnam.

Iraq is similar. The nation suffers grevious injury on Sept 11, 2001. The President and Commander in Chier, George Bush, asks congress for a free hand in using the military to defend the nation from these newly emboldened enemies. Despite numerous questions about the general strategy of the Bush administraion, questions that would come naturally (espeically to a partisan opponent), Kerry suspends skepticism and votes for the desired authorization. And like with Vietnam, the administration uses this authority in ways unwise, unsound, and misdirected. Kerry, along with much of the American public, learns of this. And rather then ducking the issue, he re-engage in political struggle, so as to direct the Iraqi involvement out of its current debacle.

Will Kerry do argue such a viewpoing? I doubt it, it's rare to see any national Democrat adopt such philosophically complext (yet consistent) messages. But who knows, Kerry can suprise.

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