Now that John Kerry is the Democratic nominee for President, it’s time for Democrats to remember the words of a song from Kerry’s war protestor days, “If you’re not with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Kerry is not the candidate that captured my imagination, but I think he’s a good man and will be a fine candidate. The major complaints against Kerry are as tired and generic as you can possibly imagine — the Republicans actually complain about his “flip-flopping.” Has there ever been a Democrat that Republicans didn’t say that about? In the meantime, the Republicans are planning on using the agenda in the Senate this year to pin Kerry on divisive issues, which is as pathetic and cynical as you might imagine.
Update: Here’s The Economist on Kerry’s inconsistencies:
Mr Kerry’s real vulnerability, though, may not be his liberalness, but rather his inconsistencies. In recent years, he has voted for plenty of Republican-sponsored measures, including the war in Iraq, the controversial Patriot Act (which gives the government more power to spy on citizens) and educational reform. As Mr Bush has noted, Mr Kerry’s words do not always match his Senate voting record. He voted in favour of the NAFTA free-trade area in 1993, but on the campaign trail, especially in the downtrodden mid-west, he has promised to review all of America’s free-trade agreements. Despite voting for the Iraq war, Mr Kerry now accuses the Bush administration of misleading America over the threat Saddam posed. Similarly, he has railed against the way the administration has enforced the Patriot Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, despite having voted for both.
My guess is that the American people can identify with a politician who gave the President the benefit of the doubt and got burned. The NAFTA stuff aside, none of the Bush policies that Kerry voted for has been implemented in the way it was proposed. When I talk to former Bush supporters who are now going to vote against him, they’ve been stung in much the way Kerry has. The natural Kerry response to these charges is that he made the mistake of trusting the President. He probably should have known better, but the people who believe he should have known better are going to be voting for him regardless.
Another update: Slate’s Michael Grunwald has a helpful table of Kerry’s most famous waffles. Seems to me that having a public career that goes back a couple of decades is looking like a liability. Gore got raked over the coals in a very similar way.