Jewish World Review Feb. 9, 2004 / 17 Shevat, 5764

Jack Kelly

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An 'undistinguished' Senator's 30 years- old credentials | The slogan of Sen. John Kerry's campaign is "the Real Deal." He is not referring to his platform, what he plans to do if he is elected president. He is referring to himself.

This is remarkable. FDR didn't do that. Harry Truman didn't do that. Jack Kennedy didn't do that. Not even Bill Clinton - who is second to none in the self love department - did that.

It is all the more remarkable given Kerry's record in the senate. To describe that record as "undistinguished" would be, perhaps, pejorative. But Kerry has been in the senate for 19 years. What landmark piece of legislation do you associate with him? What successful legislation of any kind do you associate with the Real Deal?

Faux populism is a hallmark of all the Democratic campaigns, which says something about the integrity of the candidates, and more about the gullibility of their audience. Howard Dean rails against the special interests in Washington...and hires a millionaire lobbyist to run his campaign. John Edwards rails against the special interests...but almost all his campaign money comes from trial lawyers. Wesley Clark rails against lobbyists...but he himself was one.

But the Real Deal takes the cake in the hypocrisy contest. Kerry was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and traded up for a platinum one when he married the heiress to the Heinz ketchup and pickle fortune.

Kerry takes a back seat to none in railing against the special interests. But according to the Washington Post, he also takes a back seat to none in collecting campaign money from special interests.

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"Sen. John F. Kerry, who has made a fight against corporate special interests a centerpiece of his front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years, federal records show," said the Post's Jim VandeHei in a Jan. 31 story.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports (in the Feb. 9 issue) that in 1996, Kerry received a $10,000 contribution -- through the good offices of convicted felon Johnny Chung -- after doing a favor for Liu Chaoying, allegedly a Hong Kong businesswoman.

Liu was in fact a lieutenant colonel in the Chinese army, and the contribution was illegal. There is no evidence Kerry knew this at the time, but he's dissembling about it now. He claims he hadn't met Chung until the Sep. 9 fundraiser at which the illegal contribution was made. But Kerry had sent a note to Chung the previous July 31 that said: "It was a great pleasure to have met you last week."

It is clear that John Kerry wants very much to be president. But it isn't clear in what direction he would lead the country. He voted to authorize the war in Iraq, but now denounces it. He voted for the Patriot act, but now condemns it. He voted for Bush's education reform bill, but now opposes it. He voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, but now criticises NAFTA. Little in his record is consistent, save ambition.

Kerry will - in all likelihood - be the Democratic nominee for president. But he'll be the nominee largely by default, because he was left standing after Howard Dean imploded and Wesley Clark fizzled, and before John Edwards could light a fire under his candidacy.

Some compare Kerry's candidacy to that of Bob Dole's in 1996. But that is unfair. Dole has a sense of humor, and was a very influential lawmaker. Kerry has been in politics for longer than most of his rivals. But what he touts mostly in his campaign is what he did before he entered politics - his service in the Navy during the Vietnam war.

Lt(jg) Kerry was a hero, and deserves much honor for that. But there is something pathetic about a candidate for president whose chief credential for the office is something he did 30 years ago.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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