BUSH campaign is working hard to turn John Kerry
into Bill Clinton before finishing him off as
so many lies emanating from the Oval Office during
the Bush years, the Democrats should own the truth
issue in this election cycle. But Kerry's proclivity
for doubletalk is giving Republicans an opening
they don't deserve in their fight to reelect George
latest example involves an issue that should be
completely positive for Kerry -- the medals he
won for valor in Vietnam. During a 1971 Vietnam
War protest, Kerry threw his own ribbons, as well
as medals belonging to two other veterans, over
a fence near the Capitol.
different points in his political career Kerry
said different things about the event. Sometimes
he implied the medals were his; sometimes he denied
during a contentious interview with Charlie Gibson
on "Good Morning America," Kerry said what he
should have said all those other times. He said
there is no distinction between ribbons and medals
and that by throwing away his ribbons, he was
throwing away his medals.
threw away the symbols of war. I'm proud I stood
up and fought against it," he told Gibson. Good
answer; why not say that every time someone asks
what he threw over the fence and why?
is blaming Republicans for pushing a "phony controversy"
about the medals. Unfortunately, it is a controversy
Kerry handed them by offering different versions
of the event over the years. As a result, Republicans
are not Kerry's biggest problem. Kerry continues
to be Kerry's biggest problem.
person watching Kerry run for president wants
to shake him and say, "Stop, please stop."
trying to have it both ways, on issues big and
small. If you voted against the $87 billion in
military aid for Iraq, you did not vote for it.
If the Kerry family owns a couple of SUVs, you
do, too. Don't make it so ridiculously easy for
the GOP to make you look foolish and untrustworthy
when Bush is the one who is truly foolish and
complaining about the GOP's political attacks.
You asked them to bring it on; they did. Now deal
with it. Dealing with it does not mean reviving
the controversy over Bush's National Guard service.
The voters get it. They know Bush avoided service
in Vietnam and did not show up for all his Guard
voters are also starting to understand Kerry's
conflict over Vietnam. He is the war hero and
antiwar hero and wants the glory of both without
the burden of either. He should talk about that
with all the honesty he can muster, then move
the voters a choice: the choice between talking
nonsense or talking about what really matters
-- how this country is going to move forward at
home, how it is going to resolve the conflict
in Iraq. What either man did three decades ago
does say something about their character. But
it does not say everything about who is best equipped
to lead this country. Each must make the case
on the basis of the men they are today.
should not let the Republicans bait him into backing
down from the theme that diplomacy is strength,
not weakness. America needs a world of friends
to fight the enemy; fighting a world of enemies
is lonely, costly, and ultimately ineffective.
Why is speaking fluent French something to hide
if it ultimately confers an ability to communicate
with a country that should be an ally? If leaders
of other countries are rooting for a president
other than Bush, that says something troubling
about Bush, not about Kerry. Why back away from
strengths and allow his opponent to paint them
truth about the medals Kerry threw so many years
ago does matter. But doesn't the truth about why
this country is at war with Iraq matter more?
Kerry campaign is determined to avoid the liberal
label. Meanwhile, Kerry runs the risk of sharing
the liar label wth Clinton -- and with Bush.
Vennochi's e-mail address is email@example.com.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company
Posted: May 4, 2004