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Tuesday, May 04, 2004  

Politics: Kerry critics, right and wrong

Much of the criticism I read of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is irrational, often accusing him of positions he hasn't taken or claiming George W. Bush has abilities he does not. As anyone who reads the mainstream press should know, Kerry stacks up as a much more intelligent and resourceful person in any comparison to Bush. The current occupant of the White House proves that mediocrity, money and a malleable Supreme Court can land a person at that address.

Scott Pepper, a Right Winger who surely will vote for Bush, says Kerry isn't a viable candidate because of organizational problems in his fledgling campaign.

As a disillusioned Republican, I would like nothing more than to have a viable alternative to voting for George W. Bush when the November elections roll around. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly obvious that John Kerry is not that alternative.

Last month, I blogged about the ineffectiveness of the ABB (Anybody But Bush) strategy and Kerry's lack of direction. Sunday's New York Times makes it clear that the junior Senator from Massachusetts has yet to get his campaign out of the starting gate:

In one example of how this has hindered the operation, Mr. Kerry's aides fielded complaints from donors and party leaders this week when the candidate went on television to respond, in a contentious interview, to questions about his anti-Vietnam activities 30 years ago.

One has to wonder how we can expect this man to run our country when he can't even get the bare basics of a campaign strategy together. . . .

The article in the New York Times does paint a picture of a campaign that needs to be better organized. But, it doesn't reach the substantive issues that should determine whether a candidate is qualified to be president or not. Therefore, I believe offering it as evidence of incompetence on Kerry's part is reaching.

That does not mean there aren't valid criticisms of John Kerry. Editorial writer Myriam Marquez of the Orlando Sentinel says Kerry may lose voters because his views are too "nuanced."

King of Nuance has own deficits

Kerry's not only in denial about his liberal voting record, he nuances most every issue to his peril. He's trying to win over as many undecided voters as possible, of course. But in the process, he comes off as a mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy politician. At worst, he flip-flops, an accusation the Bush campaign has managed to make stick on the Massachusetts senator. The label surely has helped drag down Kerry's popularity among voters.

Marquez offers an example.

During a recent stop to secure South Florida's Jewish community in Palm Beach County, Kerry noted his "100 percent record of sustaining the special relationship and friendship with Israel."

Israel surely has every right to exist, but how would Kerry end the impasse with the Palestinians and help Israel secure lasting peace and give Palestinians the homeland they, too, deserve? It's 100 percent unclear.

She believes Kerry has also 'nuanced' himself into trouble regarding relations between the United States and Cuba. Apparently, Kerry, reasonably enough, has said in the past that he favors allowing people to travel to that socialist island, and, that it should not be treated differently from other Leftist regimes in regard to trade. More recently, perhaps in an effort to appeal to Cuban exiles in Florida, he has said he is against lifting the trade embargo against Cuba. To have an understandable position in regard to Cuba, Kerry needs to explain why he supports travel to Cuba, but has changed his mind about trade.

Marquez's criticism strikes me as reasonable. The nitpicking of the Right doesn't. She wants Kerry to state his positions in clear, concise language that acknowledges the complexities of some issues. That would be in stark contrast to the behavior of the Bush administration, which favors jingoism and simplicity to the point of stupidity. Much of its appeal is that it reassures its constituency that the populace does not need to think. If Kerry is to mount a meaningful challenge to Bush, he must overcome his 'nuance' problem. But, it is just as important that he not resort to the fallacious reasoning and falsehoods of the opposition.

7:45 PM