Watching Senator Kerry's melt-down at his own hand has been humiliating. We on the right expected a fair fight. We had begun battening down the hatches for the flying chads. We were prepared to go the distance to certiorari. Now we have a silly campaign and pitiful race.
Many will never meet minds on the war in Iraq. Even if we found a nuclear arsenal there tomorrow, the Michael Moore faction would grouse, "You knew that, you hid them for political gain." Dan Rather would soon have the memos to prove it, just as quick as that guy down in Amarillo can crank up his Word file and get to the local Kinko's fax machine.
We also have 180-degree views on the economy. Republicans say Mr. Bush has created more jobs than any president, and Democrats spin yarns about Cleveland's hobo yards without a chicken in every pot. Of course, Cleveland has that problem during economic booms, too.
For sake of argument, let's call it a wash on the issues. I can give 6 reasons those in the Kerry camp shouldn't vote for him, despite agreeing with him, on any given day.
Reason #1: Profound lack of strategic skills. Mr. Kerry and his strategists believed that hatred for Mr. Bush was at such a frenzy level that tossing out a war hero image would win the election. But, out came the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In one of history's greatest tributes to the First Amendment and its finest swipe at legislative attempts to curb free speech, a ragtag band of brothers unmasked Mr. Kerry's perverse drive for self. Mr. Kerry's slight injuries, his short-lived tour of duty, and his antiwar protests full of damaging rhetoric used by the North Vietnamese against our own portray a man of diabolical character. Mr. Kerry has a frightening lack of ability to "Know thy enemy."
Reason #2 Heavy-handedness with those who disagree. Mr. Kerry and his minions have tried legal machinations to halt the Swiftees' book's publication, book sales, and their radio and television interviews. Mr. Kerry desires to become the leader of the free world, someone who will hold more power than anyone on the planet. Do we dare trust a man who would silence his critics in defiance of both constitutional freedoms and due process?
Reason #3 Hypocrisy. Mr. Kerry wants the rich to pay more taxes. He might begin at home. Grover Norquist reports that Mr. and Mrs. Kerry paid 12% of their income in federal taxes last year. George W. and Laura Bush paid 28% of their lesser income. Mr. Kerry also declined to pay the additional $687 voluntary tax Massachusetts suggests. Mr. Kerry should dodge the tax shelters and have his wife write out a check for the 16% difference and the $687. He might be sleeping alone in one of the five houses in "four more years of hell," as the Mrs. says, but, he might also change the poll numbers.
Reason #4 He's another meaning-of-is guy. When he visited Detroit, Mr. Kerry bragged about his American cars, including a GM Suburban. But, when confronted by environmental activists about the capital sin of owning an SUV, he denied owning an SUV. When confronted with photos of a Suburban in his driveway, he explained that his family owned SUVs, not he. When confronted about throwing his war medals over the fence at the White House, he said he threw his ribbons, not his medals. Appearing on Meet the Press in 1971, he confessed to committing war atrocities. When he appeared on Meet the Press in April 2004, he disavowed those remarks.
Reason #5 No judgment. When he was 26 years old, Mr. Kerry was given an audience with the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris. When asked how a 26-year-old could attain such access, Mr. Kerry could not see that he, because of his television visibility as a protestor, was being used by the Vietcong. His goal, he said, was to "really probe. I wanted to look them in the eyes." Yes, and ruthless Communists would succumb to a steely-eyed preppy who, during four long months of service, took rice in his buttocks and still went back to battle, er, filming himself in, action.
Reason #6 Mr. Kerry has a butler, Marvin Nicholson Jr., Mr. Kerry's "chief of stuff." Marvin makes peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches for Mr. Kerry twice each day. Whole wheat bread only. Nicholson makes sure that Mr. Kerry's Serotta racing bike makes it off the private jet. You can have one for about $4,000. That's the bike, not the jet, and that's a demo model, not new. (see www.serotta.com). Nicholson sews lose buttons on Mr. Kerry's blazer. He has a fresh shirt when sweat marks show up under Kerry's arms. Who would have thought Kerry has such drab bodily functions? CBS denies this, by the way. Mr. Kerry also has a hairdresser who Mrs. Kerry flew in for Kerry's April Meet the Press denials. George H.W. Bush lost an election because he didn't know about scanners in grocery stores. "Out of touch with the common man," was the bleating call of the media then. At least Bush 1 went into the grocery store himself.
Issues aside, Mr. Kerry has leadership deficiencies. Mr. Kerry looks more like the princely son who perversely waits in the wings for the old man to kick off, prepared to collect his birthright, something all senators from Massachusetts have sought or attained. The man who would be king. Heaven help the subjects who dissent should the judgment-impaired king rise to power with his palaces and jets full of obsequious servants and an equally subservient media.
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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State
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